Almost exactly forty-eight hours later, Kelly Robinson was driving down the coastal highway into the town of Hell, at the helm of another car provided through the auspices of Will Ives -- this one a sporty little BMW coupe. The top was down and the whipstream played through Sheila St. Cyr's cinnamon hair. She was wearing a pale yellow sundress and, physically at least, looked none the worse for her harrowing experiences.
"You're sure you want to go through with this?" he asked, and not for the first time.
"I'm sure," she replied firmly.
Despite it's name, Hell was a pleasant little Caribbean hamlet, with neat little pastel-hued houses with neat little yards encompassed by neat little picket fences. All the roads save the highway were unpaved, but kept clean and graded. Turning off onto one of them, Robinson drove through a sleeping residential area to a group of warehouses. These were all closed up. Mercury arc lamps burned over stout hangar-type doors. Going to the very end of the road, he turned behind the warehouse on the left. To their right was a canal, and beyond the canal a levee which separated Hell from a mangrove swamp. A silver Princess Daimler was parked about fifty yards away, near a group of thatch trees clustered at the back corner of the warehouse. Robinson cut the BMW's engine but left the headlamps on.
"Is that him?" asked Sheila in a fierce whisper.
"I'll find out."
Robinson got out of the car and walked slowly to the Princess Daimler. As he drew near, a muscular, blond-headed man in a chauffeur's livery got out.
"Hands on the hood," said the man.
Robinson complied. The pat-down was very professional and turned up nothing. There was nothing to turn up. Robinson was unarmed. Finished, the man stepped away, and at the same time a back window rolled silently down. Robinson went over to it and looked inside. Ives had provided him with a newspaper photo of fairly recent vintage, so he recognized the thin, darkly tanned face with its aristocratic nose and full lips and square chin. The man wore a stylish Poole Cut three-piece suit in dove gray. The diamond studs on his Movado watch flashed in the headlight beams of the BMW.
"Mr. Robinson, I presume." Very clipped and proper, with just the right touch of condescension.
"Mr. Tabor Ebanks, I gather."
"Before we proceed, I think I should warn you that my driver is armed."
"Aw, well, you shouldn't have. I'm not here to cause you problems, Mr. Ebanks. But I might be able to solve one or two for you."
"That is devoutly to be wished." Ebanks reached over and pulled a briefcase onto his lap, worked the spring latches, lifted the lid. The case was filled with neat bundles of American currency -- all hundreds. "Is that Miss St. Cyr in the car?"
"Yep. I'll go get her."
Ebanks raised a hand. "One moment, please. I would like to know why you're doing this, Mr. Robinson. Shortly after you met Miss St. Cyr I made some inquiries. You're a tennis bum. You travel around the world playing matches on which your benefactors win large sums of money. In return, they let you leech off them. Sometimes you serve as a gigolo for wealthy women. So I'm curious to know in what way you were involved with the sinking of a motor yacht off Spanish Bay last night. The vessel was registered to one Napoleon Bocce, a physician by trade who also happened to be a lieutenant of Raoul Cordillo."
"You know, I heard about that," said Robinson, leaning insouciantly on the car and shaking his head. "Tragic. Someone must have pulled the plug by mistake."
Ebanks smirked. "You know a lot more than you should, I'm afraid. I could get her without your help, you know. I'm not paying you a hundred thousand dollars for her. I'm paying you for your discretion. By accepting this money, you become an accessory."
"With a hundred grand I can afford a guilty conscience. Now I'll go fetch the lady."
Ebanks gestured the go-ahead. Robinson returned to the BMW and opened Sheila's door.
"It's showtime, sweetheart. Are you ready?"
"Yes, I'm ready."
They returned to the Princess Daimler, and the chauffeur took her firmly by the arm, escorted her round to the other side of the car, opened the door, and placed her, none too gently, in back beside Tabor Ebanks. Robinson took his place at Ebanks' window.
"Ah, Miss St. Cyr, we meet at last," said Ebanks smoothly. "You're a lovely young lady, and quite courageous. Your father must have been proud of you."
"Where is my father? What have you done to him?"
Ebanks smiled faintly. "Perhaps you know that it was I who first found George St. Cyr, washed up on a beach near the bungalow in which I resided those many years ago. I was a young, junior-grade official in the colonial government at the time. When I learned from St. Cyr of the Bright Hope's cargo and of the navy's miscalculation of the wreck's location, I convinced your father to keep silent as to its whereabouts. That wasn't difficult to do. He had been the ship's navigator, as you know. It was due to his drunken negiligence that the vessel ran up on the reef and sank with all hands. Save one. I played upon his fear of indictment and incarceration. And, of course, I recovered the crown sovereigns. Held onto them for ten years. Remarkable restraint on my part, wouldn't you say? They formed the basis for a banking and shipping empire worth hundreds of millions today. In the long run it paid for my promotion to Commissioner of Internal Security, my Q.P.M., my membership in the Legislative Assembly."
"Where is my father?" asked Sheila.
"He's dead, I'm afraid."
"You killed him," she gasped.
"No. He died of natural causes, several weeks before you arrived. I am not a violent man, Miss St. Cyr. But I am a very good judge of character. And I concluded that you were not going to stop poking about down here until you found out the truth. And we can't have that, now can we?"
"Okay," said Robinson, "I think that covers just about everything. Come on, Sheila, let's go home."
Ebanks stared at him, slow to comprehend. "Is this some sort of joke? Calling off our deal, Mr. Robinson? It's entirely too late for that. She's staying with me. You're going to take this money and go away and keep your mouth shut -- unless you want to hang right alongside me."
"Actually," said Robinson, lighting a cigarette. "The joke's on you."
He didn't even hear the gunshot -- he knew the Browning .22 sniper's rifle had been fitted with a suppressor -- but he saw how the bullet punched the chauffuer high in the shoulder and knocked him down. Robinson reached through the open window and clutched Ebanks' right arm before the man could brandish the little automatic Robinson had noticed weighing down the right coat pocket of his impeccably tailored suit. He lifted the arm and plucked the gun out of Ebanks' hand. Ebanks was focused on the tiny Beretta hideout that Sheila St. Cyr had taken from a thigh holster. She'd exposed a good deal of leg in getting to the gun, but Ebanks didn't notice -- he couldn't seem to drag his gaze off the Beretta, which was aimed at a spot right between his eyes.
"I ought to kill you," she muttered.
"That wasn't part of the deal, Sheila, remember?" asked Robinson.
"Yes. I remember."
Robinson went around the Princess Daimler. The chauffuer was trying to crawl away, clutching at his shoulder. Robinson rolled him over, relieved him of the pistol in a shoulder rig. Sheila was getting out of the car, keeping Ebanks covered. Working swiftly, surely, Robinson took the keys out of the ignition, tossed them into the black water of the canal. He smashed the car phone with the .45 automatic he'd taken from the chauffuer, using the gun like a hammer, then tossed it into the canal, too. Finally he leaned back into Ebanks' window and smiled, fiddling with the cufflink on his right sleeve.
"You see this little doodad, Mr. Ebanks? It's the most amazing little gadget. Looks like your ordinary, garden variety cufflink, doesn't it? Fact is, it's a microphone and transmitter. My partner got everything you just said on tape. He's right over there, on the levee. With another man, who has a .22 sniper's rifle. He's a really good shot, too. Just ask your chauffuer if you don't believe me. Now, my partner and I are going to drop the tape off with the authorities. But the other man is going to stay and keep you company until the police arrive, okay? I'd advise you to stay in the car, sir. Oh, and one more thing...."
He took the briefcase off Ebanks' lap.
As they walked back to the BMW, Robinson handed the briefcase to Sheila.
"It's pretty heavy," she marveled.
"It's a lot of money."
"Don't you want some of it?"
"Nah. All my bills are paid for the month." Glancing across the canal, he saw Scott, atop the levee, carrying the case that contained the reel-to-reel recording device. He couldn't see Will Ives, though, who was hunkered down, somewhere, with the .22 sniper's rifle, keeping an eagle eye on the Princess Daimler and the man inside of it.
"Maybe I'll give it to charity," she said. "Or, better yet, have a monument built to honor the brave crew of the Bright Hope -- who were all lost at sea that night."
"Your father would like that."
She reached out and took his hand. "Thank you -- for everything, Kelly. You don't mind if I call you Kelly, do you?"
Robinson grinned. "I thought you'd never get around to it."