At `Iolani Palace, the seat of King Kalākaua, all seemed normal. No one noticed that one of the attendants had slipped silently out onto the Palace grounds, after someone had tugged on the attendant’s sleeve.
Middle was well trained and made the encounter look completely casual, as if he happened to be walking down King Street and accidentally ran into an old acquaintance.
“You have it?” he asked the attendant. The attendant, Joaquin, replied, “I can recite it to you, but I didn’t dare to write it down while I was with the others.”
“Very well then, tell.”
Joaquin reeled off a list of appointments that the King was scheduled to keep on the morrow.
“I see,” Middle said. “Very well. Now get back to your post. We’ll be in contact again when we need you.” He slipped some money into the attendant’s hand. “And be careful. The people we report to take a dim view of failure and they don’t forgive or forget.”
Joaquin hurried off as quickly as possible, not anxious to be seen with Middle, even though Middle was unknown to nearly everyone.
Middle reported back at the secretive trio’s evening meeting.
“Very interesting,” Elder said. “It’s a chance to fulfill a big part of the mission and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.”
The others laughed, Youngest probably a little too loudly. Elder stared at him and said, “You all have your roles to play. Carry them out well. But with this latest development, I think I will call upline to let them know. It will seem as if we had planned it this way, and it will relieve criticism about the things that have gone wrong so far.”
Youngest objected, “Is that wise, sir? I mean, sort of shading the meaning of events.”
“You have a lot to learn, son, but in the meanwhile please keep your opinions to yourself. I’m in charge here and I decide how things are done. Do you have a problem with that?”
Youngest knew better than to go any further. “No, sir, no problem at all.”
“Now, if you two will excuse me.”
Middle and Younger rose quickly from their chairs and left the office. Elder made sure the door was locked, then opened a cabinet. From it he withdrew a flat metal object. He placed it on the table and opened it, the top of the object hinging upwards while the lower half remained on the table. The lower half was covered with various buttons. Elder pressed a few buttons and within moments, the inside top of the object illuminated, and an image of a man appeared.
“Honolulu 1885 reporting,” Elder said.
Paulie woke up an hour after opening time at Tea Trader. She couldn’t remember how late she had stayed up, but it must have been into the small hours of the morning. All she had done was pick up the logbook, intending to read a couple of pages …
She made herself a pot of Irish Breakfast tea, even though she was very late. She was just so groggy and she needed something to get her started. Joan would be there to open, and Paulie would trade some hours with her to make it up.
So much detail! How could she see so much, hear so much, feel so much? Not everything that she experienced, seemingly first-hand, was in the logbook. It couldn’t be. The logbook recorded what Admiral Grey saw. But she was seeing so much more … how could that be possible?
Was she dreaming it? Or was she out and out losing her mind? Ted had warned her about the book. What did he know about it that he hadn’t told her? In the end, though, he had let her take the book home, so it must all be okay … mustn’t it?
Maybe she should take the book back to Ted, be rid of it, put an end to whatever was going on. But she knew she wouldn’t. She knew she would be drawn back to it, would hurry home to dive back into the book’s story.
Paulie made it to Tea Trader just over two hours after opening. As she entered, Joan gave her a look that was at once concerned and chastizing.
“We were worried,” Joan said. “All of us.”
“What do you mean?” Paulie said, genuinely puzzled. “Yes, I’m two hours late— well, maybe a little more— and I apologize for that. I’ll make it up to you. I’ll take one of your shifts …”
“Paulie, you’re two hours late today. But yesterday you didn’t show up at all. Good thing Kate could cover your shift. We had no idea what happened to you. You didn’t answer your phone, and then Ted got scared and went up to your apartment. He knocked on the door for a long while but you didn’t answer. What’s going on? Did you get called away somewhere? Is there something wrong?”
Paulie, bewildered, threw her hands to her head. “Stop, stop! I don’t know what you’re talking about. I went to bed, I slept a little late, and you’re saying I lost a whole day?”
Joan indicated the calendar. “Look at the day. The date.”
Paulie gasped. Instead of Tuesday, it was Wednesday.
“Ted said for you to wait until he gets in at noon. He wants you to see a doctor.”
Paulie slumped to a seated position against one of the cabinets. She nodded her head.
“Um … can you go in the office area? It might … uh … be better for business.”
Paulie objected but Ted insisted on driving Paulie to her regular doctor, and further insisted on waiting while she was examined. It took a while, and it was late afternoon when Paulie finally emerged from the examining rooms at the clinic.
“The doctor can’t find anything,” Paulie said. “My blood pressure is up a little, but he puts that up to what happens in a doctor’s office— blood pressure is always higher. He didn’t find any cognitive problems. He wants me to do an MRI.”
“So you will, won’t you?” Ted asked, still quite concerned.
“I don’t want to but I wouldn’t hear the end of it, so I agreed. The soonest I can get in is two weeks from now.”
“Two weeks? But what if …”
“Ted, please don’t be a pessimist. I know you mean well. But if it was urgent the doctor would have pulled some strings and got me in sooner. He put it to me as more of a precaution than anything else.”
Ted didn’t look particularly convinced. “Okay,” he said, “but please take a couple of days of sick leave. And call in every day, just so we know you’re okay. Kate will fill in.”
“Kate …” Paulie recalled her conversations with Joan. “Okay, I will. But I’m fine.” Paulie knew that neither she nor Ted believed these words.
“Maybe I should drive you home and pick up the … book,” Ted said hesitantly.
“The Admiral Grey logbook? But I’m not done reading it! Do you really need it back so quickly?”
“No, it isn’t that, it’s just …”
Ted waved his hands. “Oh, never mind. But do let me drop you off.”
Paulie made a little dinner of spaghetti with browned garlic, and allowed herself a glass of white wine. By the time she had washed the dishes and tidied up the kitchen, she was feeling a lot better.
But she could feel the book calling to her again, feel its pull, drawing her to it with a strange sense of urgency. “It’s just a book,” she said out loud.
“No, I won’t,” she said resolutely, again out loud. Instead of retiring to her bedroom, she went out into the living room and turned on the television. She sat on the sofa and flipped through a few channels, but nothing was of interest.
“Okay,” she said. “I’ll read the book some more. But I’ll set my alarm for 6 AM. There won’t be any mistakes or lost days this time.”
She changed into her nightgown and picked up the book. Again there was that feeling of electricity, like a static shock, but somehow different. Portending. Compelling.
She lay down on the bed and turned the pages, and once again she was transported.
Some time later, her phone rang. It showed the name “Ray” on the screen. But Paulie, who was neither asleep nor awake, didn’t notice, didn’t hear a thing.
First Mate O’Connor returned to the ship a little later and immediately went to the Admiral’s cabin, where Admiral Grey was busy with his ship’s log, making a rather long entry detailing everything that had happened on that day.
“Admiral, sir?” O’Connor said hesitantly from the door.
Admiral Grey looked up. “Oh, sorry, O’Connor, I’ve been quite busy here.”
“I can well imagine that, sir.” O’Connor paused. But I have good news.”
“We see King Kalākaua tomorrow. I was easily able to make an appointment by the .. um … method you suggested.”
Admiral Grey smiled. “Very fine work. That approach is often feasible.”
O’Connor had in fact gone to the `Iolani Palace, announced himself, and invited the King’s secretary for lunch and drinks in the nearby Hawaiian Hotel. It had proved to be rather expensive but getting on the King’s calendar was suddenly not a problem. O’Connor didn’t even have to do much explaining, just saying it was a courtesy call on the part of Admiral Grey. The Secretary, sated with wine and good food, didn’t ask any questions.
“Ten o’clock on the morrow,” O’Connor said. “A courtesy call. I don’t know how much time the Secretary scheduled but I suspect that won’t be an issue.”
“Well done,” the Admiral said again, and then turned his attention back to his logbook.
Two days later Paulie was back in the shop, sharing a shift with Kate.
Around one o’clock, Paulie’s cell phone rang. It was Ray. “Kate, would you take care of this customer, please?”
“Sure! It’s Ray, right?” Kate smiled.
But Paulie didn’t answer. She had gone over to one side of the store and was standing under one of the original paintings Kate had brought in to the shop.
“Ray, where are you?” she asked.
“Not even ‘hello’ first?” Ray asked.
“Ray, you haven’t called in days.”
“I did. You didn’t answer. Didn’t you see a number of missed calls on your phone?”
“No … er, well, I guess I didn’t look.”
“You should. Anyhow, I’m in New York.”
Paulie had noticed the unusual 212 area code show up on her phone. It was the one Ray always called through when he was away. “And hey, why don’t you use your cell phone?”
Ray didn’t reply. “I’m in New York again, I’m calling from my hotel. So how are you anyhow?”
Ray and Paulie talked for about ten more minutes. Paulie accepted his apologies for canceling their outing just before he had left on his trip.
Finally, Paulie ended with, “So when will you be back?”
“Depends,” Ray replied.
“That’s what you always say. Depends on what?”
“Oh, you know, how the work goes. This is a big contract and it has to be done all at once, so it might be a while yet. Well, got to run. Love you.”
“Love you too…” The line went dead.
“Finally,” the man in the little room said to his companion. The room was in a basement somewhere in Calgary and was filled with equipment that would have been of interest to even the most advanced electronic engineers in the world.
“About time,” said the other. “How much did you get?”
“All of it, of course. It’ll take a little time to trace it out but we’ll locate him in a little while. Some of the routing might be hard to crack but we’re a lot more sophisticated than they are.”
“She did her job well. Infiltrating the listening devices, I mean.”
“Don’t forget who she is.”
They both smiled. But the smiles were grim. You didn’t tell jokes about Assassins.
It would be Admiral Grey, First Mate O’Connor, and one of the sailors to act as security. Of course weapons wouldn’t be allowed inside `Iolani Palace, but that should be a relatively safe locale.
They took the launch across the harbor at around nine o’clock in the morning. They could have taken a hansom cab to the Palace, but the day being nice and the streets being dry, they decided to walk, arriving just before their appointed time of ten o’clock.
They were greeted at the door of the Palace by the King’s secretary. “His Royal Highness will see you right away,” the man said, and led his vistors directly into the throne room, where King Kalākaua was seated, waiting.
David Kalākaua was affable and friendly, and although he loved pomp and ceremony, he didn’t act aloof and unapproachable. He shook hands warmly with his visitors and motioned them to a seating area well away from the Peacock Throne.
“Are you Englishmen enjoying our fine weather?” the King inquired. “Much colder where you come from. I have been to England and I know this.”
“Indeed, Your Highness,” said O’Connor. “But the reason …”
Admiral Grey interrupted with a silent glance at his First Mate. The Admiral understood that here, it seemed, small talk was a prerequisite for business discussions.
O’Connor quickly got the idea, and for a while they listened as the King expostulated on his many travels, the fine hotels in which he stayed, the excellent cuisine in the best eating establishments, and so on. The First Mate and the Admiral interjected polite questions, which seemed to please the King no end.
After some little while, the King finally said, “But surely you didn’t come here just to hear about my adventures. How can I help you?”
“Of course, we wished to pay our respects,” said the Admiral cautiously, “and we thank you for making time for us today. But yes, there is something else.”
The King leaned forward. “What might that be? I do so hope nothing is seriously the matter.”
“Then you’ve not heard?” the Admiral asked.
“Heard what?” the King said. He look genuinely surprised. “My ministers tell me that everything is going just fine.”
“You don’t know about the British sailors being murdered?”
The King sat back, looking aghast. “Sailors? Murdered? No, I didn’t know … really? Then why didn’t I hear about it in my daily report? I must ask my Chancellor to come in at once!”
He rang a bell that was sitting on the table. A servant appeared almost immediately. “Get my Chancellor!” the King said in an angry voice.”
“Your Highness, he is away for the morning,” the trembling maid said.
“I don’t care if he’s away! Find him! Find someone! I should have been briefed!”
The maid scurried off. “Tell me what happened,” the King said to the Admiral, in a slow and resigned voice. “If you lost men I am truly sorry.”
The Admiral explained: about the boat with the false British sailors, about his being spirited away and then rescued by the quick thinking of his First Mate, and then about the discovery of the dead sailors in the boat house where the British kept their launches on shore. He also mentioned that the police didn’t seem to show very much interest, saying that since the perpetrators had been killed by British marksmen, it really didn’t matter.
King Kalakāua rang his bell again. A different servant appeared after a slightly longer interval. “Where’s … oh never mind, I sent her off the find the Chancellor. Summon the Chief of Police! Right now!”
“Your Highness, it may take some time to locate him,” the servant said.
“Well, do it, don’t just stand here talking to me about it!”
This servant, too, scurried off.
“I promise you a full investigation,” the King said.
“Your Highness, I have one more question,” Admiral Grey said.
“That would be?”
“Have you seen the British Ambassador lately? Does he call upon you regularly?”
“Why yes, he does, once every week or two,” said the King. “Come to think of it, I haven’t seen him in a little while, though. I’m not sure …”
He rang the bell yet again. This time the wait was even longer than before. “Where are those confounded … oh, yes, I did sent them off.”
When the servant appeared, the King snapped. “About time! Now get me my Secretary! And don’t tell me he’s out and about or will be hard to find!”
“Right away, your Highness,” the servant said, hurrying off as quickly as possible.
“Some tea?” the King asked.
“Yes, please,” said the Admiral.
Just as the King was about to ring a fourth time for a servant, there was the sound of a commotion from the front of the Palace. Voices were raised, and although the words couldn’t be made out, there was obvious anger.
Then there were gunshots, with a sound that was like no rifle or pistol the Admiral had ever heard before.
He and the First Mate reacted at once. “We must get you out of here,” he said to the King. The Admiral and O’Connor grasped the King by his elbows and literally lifted him out of his seat. “Which way to the back?” the Admiral demanded.”
“Over there.” The King pointed. “But my guards …”
The British officers rushed the King in the direction indicated. Two of the Royal Guard appeared. “What’s the meaning of …” one of them said.
There was the deep crackling sound of another shot, and then another. Both guards fell dead upon the floor.
Julianna sat in her private sitting room, outside her bedchambers on the second story of their home. Her tea had gotten cold and she hadn’t even noticed.
Many months had already gone by without the slightest word from her Admiral John Grey, the man she loved, the one was supposed to be her fiancé. Of course, she knew the difficulties in sending mail from long distances— at least she assumed it was a long distance, for the Admiral had been resolute in his insistence that his destination was secret and could not be disclosed.
Surely he could have sent one letter?
Maybe sending a letter would have revealed his secret destination … but couldn’t he have just sent it to the Admiralty, to be forwarded, even in a separate envelope? Or were the risks of even that too high?
Julianna had considered going to the Admiralty offices herself to pose questions. But her parents were completely opposed to the idea. “Better that he’s gone, the way he treats you,” said her father.
More like the way you treat him, Julianna thought, but of course didn’t say.
In any event, she didn’t go. It was pretty unlikely that she would get any sort of response or information.
It was just so disheartening. And disillusioning. They had had an unpleasant parting, and her conciliatory letter never made it to the Admiral before he sailed.
She was starting to wonder if the waiting was worth the pain. And that only made the pain even worse.
To be continued in Season Three, starting in December 2020. A special print edition of all of Season Two will be available this coming fall.
Paulie enjoys a variety of breakfast teas, but when she wants a real morning pick-me-up, she often turns to Irish Breakfast.
Tea Trader’s Irish Breakfast is a strong, full blend of Assams combined with the spicy richness of Kenyan leaf, which you can enjoy beside the fire for a heartwarming cup, or just do as Paulie does and savor a pot at the kitchen table. It’s of course available from Tea Trader, either by mail order or at the shop.