"Tell me Hindmarsh. Were you approached last night by a lady claiming to be Leopoldina Concepcion Iphigenia Branquinho?"
"I was, sir. Why do you say "claiming" to be Miss Branquinho? Is that not her name?"
Hammond chuckled. "Oh, it's one of her names all right. She has several others and is known by all of them to the British Government."
I nodded slowly. "So are you suggesting that she is not as she seems?"
Hammond chuckled. "Come now Hindmarsh, we are both men of the world. I think we both know what she seems to be and she is, I suspect, exactly that."
I chuckled with him, although I had no idea what he was talking about.
Hammond continued: "She is an agent of the common enemy of Portugal and England. I take it I do not need to name them?"
Here I was on safe ground. Take any two European countries at random - Naples and Wallachia, for example - and their common enemy will be the French.
"They have been interested in your Southern Australian lands for some time. If Flinders had not got in first then they would have set up a colony of their own tout suite. Been dark on us ever since!"
"But what has this to do with Miss Branquinho?"
Hammond grew deadly serious in an instant.
"This has everything to do with her. She is an agent of Government of our common enemy, answerable directly to their King himself. And there is nothing - and I stress: nothing she will not do to ensure that your colony is not established."
"If the southern coast is kept empty then there is room for a foothold for the Fre.... for our common enemy. Before you know it New South Wales will have them, with their contemptuous sneers and their overly rich sauces, at the gates of Sydney Cove."
I swallowed hard.
"Goodness me," I said in a voice that conveyed the depth of my true feelings.
"Just so," said Hammond, ominously.
We spent the rest of the morning devising a stratagem, but I do not look forward the 3:00, when this brazen Delilah will arrive.