Amsterdam Monday 8th March, 5.03 p.m.
“MARK, sorry for the interruption, but I must talk with you immediately.” Petra Von de Roer had knocked on the open door as she had walked in, her lips tight, on her attractive face.
“I understand Petra. If it’s short you won’t mind if Jill stays?” Mark Stafford replied, looking up from his discussions about the executive committee meeting with Jill Evans, secretary.
“No, please don’t go Jill.” Petra’s face was firm. “It’s about this sperm whale business. I thought you would like an up-date.”
“I’ve checked with Carrie and she is flying out Wednesday and will be in Auckland on Thursday. I’ve alerted the Auckland office and they are expecting her. It’s our lucky day as the Albatross is still in New Zealand. It’s leaving tomorrow to check drift-net fishing in the Tasman Sea. Jacques is prepared to let us use it for five days. NASA is going to send us a satellite report pin-pointing the position of the Japanese whaling fleet. All going well, Albatross should be able to intercept them around Campbell Island about three hundred nautical miles south-west of New Zealand.” Petra paused for breath, as she regained composure from her excitement.
“That sounds good Petra.” Mark took the opportunity to have his say. “Now, about the investigation team. You’re sending down Carrie Ardley as the whale expert. I haven’t met her. What’s her background?”
“Ja, I thought you’d ask. Here, I’ve got a printout for you.” Petra handed over the two-page computer printout.
Mark quickly read it through. “I see,” he murmured to himself, loud enough for the others to hear. “She’s twenty-eight, unmarried, doctorate in zoology, had a stint with the Peace Corps in South America, been to Europe with Project Jonah on a year’s assignment and with us for just on two years. Yes definitely the expert.”
Looking up at Petra, he said, “I still want some experience in the team. I think she needs a male counterpart, older than she is, and experienced in the outdoors, in the use of water equipment. You know, diving, rafting, canoeing. Fit, intelligent, preferably some negotiating skills, he can leave immediately, and of course, must be fluent in Japanese. Who have we got for this position?”
“Petra’s eyes opened in astonishment. “What do you want? Superman? I don’t know of anyone in the organization who meets those requirements. Do you?”
“No I don’t. But you should check through the computer just in case and . . .”
“Mark,” Jill Evan’s voice cut through his comments. “I think I may have your man.”
“Great Jill, lets hear it.”
“Well, when I was working with David McTaggart before you took over, Mark, we made a trip to Montreal. David and I had lunch with a good friend of his, Guy Chiriaeff. Guy is the dean of one of the business faculties at McGill University. At lunch we met one of his lecturers. He would have been in his late thirties then, tall, a big man. He looked fit and I think he mentioned canoeing as one of his interests. But the most interesting thing was that we had lunch at a Japanese restaurant and he ordered for all of us. He spoke fluent Japanese. I was most impressed.”
“Fantastic Jill. What a marvelous memory you have for young and interesting men.” Mark’s eyes were twinkling as he smiled his appreciation. “There you are Petra, give David a call in Rome. Keep it personal. Don’t use the network. Check him out. He may be our man. By the way Jill, what is his name?”
“Oh, I remember that,” Jill replied, a look of approval on her face. “His name is John, John Daroux.”