Nathaniel Cannon and the Panamanian Idol No. 15

Opening the book, Cannon took a moment to reacquaint himself with an alphabet he knew by heart. Fred Jane’s men had cobbled together a deck plan of Red Banner. The passenger spaces matched the diagram in the official history. The crew spaces were slung beneath them, with access by companionway to the exits from the passenger spaces.

Looking furtively from side to side, Cannon faked a coughing fit to cover the sound of tearing paper. He folded the page and secreted it away in his waistcoat pocket.

The clock struck four, and Cannon blinked. Had he been here that long? The rumbling in his stomach suggested he had. Iseabail would be worried. He fixed his hat upon his head and made his way back to the lounge.

He found Iseabail, remarkably unconcerned, sipping a cup of tea on the balcony level. On the table in front of here was a teapot and a multi-tiered tray with a selection of finger sandwiches and pastries. She pushed a chair out for him with her foot. Setting her teacup down, she related, “I thought ye mighta died.”

Cannon sat. “And you’re here drinking tea?”

“I heard there’s a library,” Iseabail said, pushing the tea tray toward Cannon. “Tha’ seemed aye more likely. Ha’ some of yon wee tasties.”

Cannon took a few of the sandwiches. Mouth full, he asked, “Teacup for me?”

Iseabail shrugged. “I havena seen yon steward I bribed tae bring me this. If he comes by, we’ll ask.” She crossed her arms. “Ye find anything wi’ your afternoon?”

“What I was looking for.”

Iseabail interrupted him, waving at someone over his shoulder. “‘Scuse me. D’ye think we migh’ get another cuppa tea for yon good doctor?”

Cannon turned to see a steward incline his head. “Of course.”

Cannon raised an eyebrow at Iseabail, who grinned back. “Dinnae gi’ me tha’ look, Mr. Smith. It’s aye nice ta ha’ the terms a’ conduct wi’ yon stewards so clear.”

“Is it,” Cannon replied flatly. He shook his head and went on. “I found a good deck plan. Should be enough to go on. Do you have my list?”

“Tha’, an’ information, too,” Iseabail said. “While ye had yer nose stuck in some book, I had a lovely lunch wi’ Mr. Wailani.”

“I guess it’s too much to expect you’d find something useful—”

“Y’know, Mr. Wailani,” Iseabail said, “Our friend who dines wi’ the cap’n?”

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