Thorne returned Cannon’s gaze. At first, defiance blazed in his eyes. Cannon let him glare. He even felt a measure of sympathy for the man. It was hard on any captain to admit he was beaten, a lesson Cannon knew all too well from his recent adventures in Panama.
Thorne’s shoulders drooped, and he looked away. He took a breath, straightened, and met Cannon’s eyes again. “I take responsibility for this. Leave my crew out of it.”
Cannon smiled. “That wasn’t so hard, was it? Joe, does he seem contrite to you?”
“Me too. Look, Captain Thorne, I’m not in this business to make any more enemies than I have to.”
“That’s not what people say,” Thorne replied.
“I’m turning over a new leaf,” Cannon retorted. “I’m not going to hurt you or your crew, or your zep any more than I have. I’m not going to steal anything of yours, Captain Thorne. All I want is my property—Majestic—and any of my crew you have as prisoners. We leave, you patch up your zep and head into… Singapore, isn’t it?” Thorne nodded, bafflement written across his face. “Singapore, and before you know it we’re both cruising the skyways again, in search of fortune on our own terms. What do you say?” Cannon stuck out his hand.
Thorne watched it carefully. “No tricks?” he said.
“I told you, skipper, I’m turning over a new leaf.”
Thorne cautiously shook Cannon’s hand.
Cannon smiled without humor and held the handshake. Conversationally, he added, “Don’t think this means you can steal from me down the road. This warning, our pleasant chat? It’s a one-time-only special. If I catch you with your hands on my property again, well.” Something flashed in Cannon’s eyes. “All those things they say about me? You’ll find out just how true they were.”
Thorne nodded slowly. “That seems fair,” he ventured.
“Good!” Cannon let go of his opposite number’s hand. “You get on the radio with your men on Majestic. Have them moor with Swiftsure, come across, and leave my prize crew in command, and we’ll be on our way.” He turned half toward the door, then turned back to point a finger at Thorne. “Don’t cross me again.”