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It’s Murder, On a Galapagos Cruise

P.C. James

James Gang Enterprises


1. Toronto, Canada. November 1988

2. Toronto to Quito, Ecuador

3. Ecuador and Galapagos Islands, November 1988

4. First Evening. At Sea

5. Next Morning. At Sea

6. Santa Cruz and Giant Tortoises

7. South Plaza Island

8. Isabela Island, Punta Vicente Roca

9. Fernandina Island, Punta Espinoza

10. Isabela Island, Urbina Bay

11. Isabella Island, Punta Moreno

12. Morning at Sea

13. Floreana Island, Post Office Bay

14. Floreana Island, Cormorant Point

15. Espanola Island, Punta Suarez

16. Espanola Island, Gardner Bay

17. At Sea

18. Santa Cruz Island, Cerro Dragon

19. At Sea. Maria’s Story

20. Ecuador and Toronto

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Toronto, Canada. November 1988

‘Loneliness is a cloak you wear.’ That phrase from the old Sixties song kept running through Pauline Riddell’s mind as she waited for her recently widowed sister Freda’s plane to land. Freda had reminded her of the song on the phone only days ago when Pauline called to see how she was. It was true of both of them now but, Pauline thought, much more so for Freda. Freda and her husband, Keith Holman, had been that ‘one person’ the old church ceremony talked of and his death left Freda bereft. Her children were grown and gone. Really gone. In this new world, nobody lived nearby anymore. Freda’s three children were scattered far from Yorkshire: one in London, one in America, and one in Australia.

Watching from the windows of the newly named Toronto Pearson International Airport, Pauline was relieved to finally see the Air Canada flight from London touching down. She began to walk to the arrivals area, musing on her own situation. She was alone but she didn’t think she was lonely; she’d always been a self-sufficient person, even as a child. However, since moving to Toronto to take up an executive position with a Canadian company some eight years ago, she’d begun to realize the difficulties that being alone can bring. It was easy to shrug it off when she’d been younger but now, at age fifty-five, it felt like life was closing in on her.

That silly song was making her gloomy, she thought, giving herself a mental shake. It was typical of that awful period, a time when, in her mind, the societal illness that had begun growing in her fellow citizens in the Fifties had broken out into full-blown disease. Hedonism and decadence began in earnest during those years and hadn’t subsided since. The Seventies had been worse, and the Eighties were unbelievably crass. She grinned. And somewhere along the way, while she wasn’t watching, she’d become a cranky old woman. She rather liked that.

Freda appeared from the sliding doors and looked around. Pauline waved and caught her eye. With a beaming smile, Freda followed Pauline’s gestures down the ramp to where they met in a firm hug.

“How was the flight?” Pauline asked, as she took control of one of Freda’s cases and led the way to the parking lot elevators.

“Long,” Freda said, “but everything was nice and, despite what people told me, I thought the meals were fine.”

“And how is everyone at home?”

“They’re good. They send their love and hope you’ll come over again soon.”

“It’s expensive,” Pauline said. “Maybe next year. All my vacation time and money this year is being spent with you on our Galapagos adventure.”

“It will be an adventure, won’t it?” Freda said, as they arrived at Pauline’s car and began loading the bags into the trunk. “Did you ever imagine when we were growing up we’d ever be able to visit such places?”

“I didn’t,” Pauline said. “Jet travel is the most amazing improvement of our lives, I think.”

“There have been so many,” Freda said, “and yet I think you may be right. Do you remember when Aunt Mabel went to the Canary Islands in the Fifties by boat and how far that seemed to us?”

“I’d forgotten,” Pauline said, as she drove out of the parking lot and merged into the stream of traffic heading back to the city.

“I had as well,” Freda said. “Then sometime on the flight, it came back to me and I realized it took her longer to get there than it was taking me to come here. The contrast just astounded me. Now, I can’t stop thinking about it.”

“Only sailors like Matt visited these out of the way places then, and real explorers like Jacque Cousteau,” Pauline agreed. “Now we’re visiting as tourists.”

“And what I find even more amazing is I’m visiting Galapagos by way of Canada,” Freda said. “It isn’t so long ago people emigrated to Canada and hardly ever came back. The sea voyage took longer than the time they had for vacation.”

“Now you fly here, meet me, and we fly to South America tomorrow. It’s a huge change and in such a short time,” Pauline said, edging her way through the busy afternoon traffic of Toronto’s rush hour.

“How far is it to your apartment?” Freda asked, as the traffic finally ground to a halt.

“Not far in distance,” Pauline said, “but it will be a while. Your flight landed at an awful time. It’s the afternoon rush hour here.”

“Oh. I never thought of Toronto having a rush hour,” Freda said. “When you live in the country, you don’t think of such things.”

“Don’t think about it. It’s always busy here,” Pauline said. “Think about flying out tomorrow to Ecuador and all the wonderful things we’re going to see.”

“I’ve thought of nothing else for days now so instead tell me about that case you’ve just been involved in,” Freda said.

“I told you on the phone,” Pauline said, unwilling to talk about her success.

“Why did you take the case?” Freda asked. “You always say you don’t do sordid criminal stuff and a jewel robbery sounds exactly what you don’t like.”

“The robbery is what the media reported,” Pauline said, “but there was a side to the investigation that was more than just one lot of greedy people robbing another lot of greedy people. It had

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