“Did ye have any trouble gettin’ intae the city?” Iseabail asked.
Volkov looked to Kopeikin, who spoke. “Comrade Volkov’s English is…” He rocked his hand back and forth. “When we came to the city, we found remains of old expeditions.”
Cannon felt his jaw tighten. Some of those remains were his crew.
Out of the corner of her eye, Iseabail saw the change in her captain’s countenance. As subtly as she could, she kicked him in the shin.
Kopeikin continued. “We also found traps, which old expeditions had set off. So, we think we must be careful.”
“Certainly,” Cannon replied. “Kopadula is quite a bit less dangerous, but the payoff, if you will, is quite a bit less itself.”
“Yes,” Kopeikin said. “Do you know the streets of Poka Huguaw?”
Cannon nodded. “We’ve seen maps, at any rate.”
“Temple complex at the center of the city is surrounded by high walls, and smooth, not easy to climb. We found tunnels which go beneath the walls.”
Volkov took up the narrative. “Inside temple were idols, bronze and gold. Is new frontier in ancient Panama studies.”
“Aye,” Iseabail agreed. “If yon Panamanians had goldsmithin’ aye tha’ long ago, we’ve lots tae learn yet.”
“Is true,” said Volkov. “Time is left for you, Dr. Smith, to make your name. Panama still has aces up her sleeves.”
“If I make a name for myself,” Cannon said, “you can be sure Mrs. Smith will be right there with me. What a relief they never built a canal, wouldn’t you say? It would have been a crying shame to wash away all of Panama’s most fascinating history.”
“Did ye take anythin’ away from yon site?” Iseabail said. “For yer museums?”
The stewards laid out the soup course. Volkov was quiet for some time after. Kopeikin eventually answered. “It is because of security that I cannot say, but if you visit Leningrad next year or after, you may see some items on display.”
Cannon exhaled. He had worried that Iseabail had overplayed their hand. Fortunately, Kopeikin’s non-answer told him everything he needed to know. The idol was most likely aboard, and that meant it could be lifted. “Excellent, excellent.” He let silence settle over the table for a few minutes as the guests finished off their borscht.