Nathaniel Cannon and the Panamanian Idol No. 28

The captain was quiet. He turned through the folio slowly, reading a few lines here and there. “You are Dr. Smith, then?”

Cannon blinked.

“A Mr. Wailani told me I might get visit from you.”

“A new acquaintance of mine,” said Cannon. “Yes, I am indeed Dr. Smith.”

“Archaeologist, yes?” the captain asked. “You and your wife?”

Cannon nodded. “We specialize in the pre-Columbian Americas.”

“Ah!” The captain grinned at the stewards. Cannon could picture them: dead silent, waiting for the order to strongarm him away, and certainly not sharing in the captain’s levity. “What wonderful luck. We have passenger aboard who is distinguished in the very same field. His name is Artiom Volkov.”

“Volkov!” Cannon said. His eyebrows shot up as he feigned surprise. “I understand he recently made quite the discovery in Panama.”

“Yes, this is true,” the captain replied. “He is private, but I think he might like to meet a fellow academic.” Elbow on the table, he waved his hand over the folio. “You have given an excellent gift. In exchange, if you wish to meet Comrade Volkov, I will invite you to dinner this evening.”

“It would be a great honor,” Cannon said.

“Wonderful! Dr. Smith will join us tonight,” the captain informed the stewards. One nodded fractionally. “One of my men will meet you at your stateroom at half seven—six-thirty, to take you to my wardroom.”

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