Nathaniel Cannon and the Panamanian Idol No. 18

Wailani seemed to find this funny, and the conversation moved on. Eventually, it came around to literature, and Cannon seized his chance. “I had the opportunity to spend some time in the ship’s library this afternoon, and I must say, it was a singular pleasure.”

“Indeed?” Wailani replied. “I would have thought its charm limited for those who speak no Russian.”

Cannon tilted his head by way of acknowledgement. “Perhaps the English selection is a bit on the light side, but to see such a library on a zeppelin is nothing short of astounding. The captain must take a great deal of pride in it.”

Wailani nodded. “It is one of the crown jewels of the Soviet fleet.”

“No surprise.” Cannon took a deep breath. “Mrs. Smith and I thought we might make a contribution, in the hopes of meeting Mr. Volkov at the captain’s table. Of course, we have nothing of interest to a collector of Russian literature. We were hoping you might.”

Wailani’s eyes narrowed. Cannon hoped he hadn’t overplayed his hand. Wailani spoke. “I do have something of that nature but I certainly cannot just give it away.”

That was the opening Cannon had wanted. “Certainly not,” he agreed hurriedly. “I would hardly presume so much. Rather, I propose a trade.”

Wailani’s mood brightened considerably as the conversation returned to his home turf. “What do you have to offer?”

Cannon looked from side to side, then leaned across the table. “Do you know of the great Dutch explorer van der Hoek?”

Wailani nodded, unconsciously leaning forward himself. “I have heard the name.”

“Did you know that he wrote a three-volume set by the title, The Histories and Migrations of the Peoples of the South Pacific?”

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