When I finished my delivery to the assembled passengers, the staff crew and the audience repaired to the back of the Lido deck. The World Discoverer’s (‘Lindy’) fantail was one flat teak surface, polished clean with brushes and stones at least once a day. There were tables and lounge chairs aplenty. No one had to stand, so, except for a few people at the rail who were watching both Isle of the Tsar of Russia Islands waning in the distance, everyone collected in pockets around the tables. Marlys and a few of her assistants took orders. They brought out drinks from the inside bar. I sat with Don and Dutch at the same table. Marlys delivered a bowl of coffee, already pre-mixed with cream and sugar, and placed it in front of me, then walked off to let an assistant take the other’s orders. Don’s eyes twinkled. He looked at my coffee bowl, his squinty expression one of suspicion.

Several passengers had come and gone from our table. Their questions were endless, all revolving around the rather grim survival tale I had spun earlier. By transforming Don into the true leader of our adventure away from the ship, my fake story never approached the true risks we had faced. A young woman made her way through the crowd. I was amazed when I recognized her. I had never seen the Basque outside of Don’s cabin. Her body was as exotic and alluring as her face. The crowd parted around her, the men turning in waves to watch her movements. She leaned over Don’s shoulder. He didn’t notice. She tapped him on the arm. Don started, leaning to hear something she said. When she finished, he got up and departed. They walked away together.

Dutch and I watched them intently. Mostly we analyzed and appreciated the back of her body. Dutch signed for several large tropical drinks when Marlys’ assistant returned. I wondered what an Assistant Cruise Director earned, particularly when I spied the size of the bill. Drinks from the Lido bar were not cheap.

Dutch drank half of one of the Mai Tai’s down, or whatever the bright colored drink was.

Wiping his mouth, he asked: “What do you suppose she wants?”

I drew a blank. The Basque was not a woman I could possibly figure out. The mere thought of attempting it caused me to look for Marlys.

“What’s the plan when we get to St. Paul?” Dutch inquired when it became apparent that I wasn’t going to be drawn into a discussion about the strange woman.

St Paul Island Harbor

St. Paul Island Harbor

“St. Paul?” I asked.