A few miles shy of Ocho Rios, the road from Kingston passed through Fern Gully, a deep gorge with huge ferns and trees clinging to the steep rock walls, forming a verdant canopy that in places completely blocked out the sun. Ketch was getting nervous -- the little blue Triumph convertible was still on their tail, keeping a respectful distance.
"We are almost to Ochie, mates," he told Robinson and Scott. "What do I do?"
"Not to worry, Ketch, baby," said Scott. "It's in the bag."
"In the bag, Mon?" Ketch threw a puzzled glance at the Rhodes Scholar via his rearview mirror.
"It's under control," translated Robinson. "So be cool. Give her some gas when you go around that sharp bend up ahead, and then do exactly what I say when I say to do it, okay?"
The driver of the blue Triumph saw the taxi speed up as it disappeared around a bend in the road, and accelerated slightly to keep up. Coming around the bend, though, he had to stomp on the brakes. The taxi was stopped right in the middle of the road. Robinson was leaning against the back of the car, arms and legs crossed. The driver of the blue Triumph realized there was no way around -- the road was too narrow here. Before he could decide what to do, Scott came bounding out of the thick jungle foliage and vaulted into the passenger seat. The .45 Colt automatic in his hand looked as big as a cannon to the startled driver.
"Howdy, pard," drawled Scott, with a big grin. "Just keep both hands on the wheel."
Robinson materialized beside the car on the driver's side. He reached under the man's jacket and produced a small .32 caliber snubnose revolver.
"Now, now, what is this that we have here, sir?" asked Robinson.
"I know," said Scott. "It's one of those cigarette lighters disguised as a pistol."
"You think? Let's see." Robinson casually aimed the .32 at the driver's chest, curled a finger around the trigger.
"Hey!" yelped the driver. He was slender young man with a moddishly cut green jacket and a yellow silk tie adorned with crimson dancing girls. His most prominent facial feature was a long, bent nose. He had a pale complexion and long black hair.
"Hmm, I guess not," said Robinson. He tossed the revolver into the ferns.
"Man, I wish you hadn't done that," groaned the driver. "If I can't find it I'll have to pay for it. Not to mention having to fill out about a dozen reports, all in triplicate." He had a cockney accent.
"Hey, wait a minute," said Scott. "I know who this guy is."
Robinson looked at his partner, surprised. "You do?"
"Yeah, sure. You're one of The Beatles, right? Wait. Let me guess. You're Paul. No, George. Ringo, maybe?" Scott shrugged sheepishly. "Sorry. I get 'em confused."
"How droll," said the young man. "We are on the same side -- more or less. I work for British Intelligence.
"Have you ever worked with Jimmy Bond, by any chance?" asked Robinson. "I've always wanted an autograph."
The young man sighed. "No, I've never had the pleasure. What do you blokes intend to do now?"
"We want to know who you are and why you're following us," said Scott.
"As I said, I work for British Intelligence. My name is Quinby Featherstone. I...."
"Quinby Featherstone," said Robinson, drawing out each syllable. "Yep. He definitely works for British Intelligence."
Quinby gave him a dirty look. "I was assigned to surveille the two of you and...."
"Surveille," said Robinson.
"That means 'watch'," said Scott.
"....and report your activities to my superior," finished Quinby.
"Well, I'll tell you what you're going to do," murmured Scott. "You're going to take us to your leader. And we'll just tell him what we're doing, so that way you won't have to surveille us all over the island. How's that?"
Quinby glanced at the gun in Scott's hand. "I'd rather not."
"Sometimes we've just got to do what we don't want to do, Quinby," said Robinson. "You'll realize that when you grow up."
He walked back to the taxi and spoke briefly to Ketch, who nodded, climbed back inside, and pulled over to the side of the road. Returning to the Triumph, Robinson wedged himself in behind the two seats and Quinby started off, heading for Ocho Rios with the taxi now tailing him.
The drove to The Ruins where, according to Quinby, his superior took supper every day at six o' clock. The restaurant, one of the most popular in Jamaica, wasn't crowded yet. Quinby led them through the tables on the boardwalk, with a nearby waterfall plunging magnificently into a pool below. A man wearing a white tussore seat and straw planter's hat sat alone at a table by the railing, consulting the wine list. He looked up as Robinson and Scott -- Quinby in tow -- walked up.
"Oh no," groaned Robinson. "It can't be."
"I know we've been bad on occasion," said Scott, "but have we really been so bad as to deserve this?"
"Kelly! Scotty!" The man rose, smiling broadly, and extended a hand.
"George Ponson Rickeby-Hackaby," sighed Robinson. "As I live and breathe." Without enthusiasm he shook the proffered hand, then checked his fingers. "Let's see. Watch. Ring. One, two, three...."
"Really, Kelly, old boy, you must work on some new material," said Hackaby, with a good-natured chuckle. "You do that every time we meet. Scotty, how are you?"
"I was doing pretty good until about thirty seconds ago, George."
Hackaby laughed, motioned for them to take chairs. Quinby started to sit down, but Hackaby stopped him.
"No. Not you, Quinby. Go back to the office. I'll deal with you later."
"Don't be too hard on him, George," said Scott, as a dejected Quinby walked away. "We were all wet behind the ears once."
"Yes, well. I'd rather work alone. But Sir Frederick insisted I bring young Featherstone alone. Show him the ropes, so to speak."
"So what brings you to Jamaica, George?" asked Robinson.
"Isn't this a wonderful spot?" asked Hackaby. "It has a fascinating history. An Englishman by the name of Robert Rutherford built a sugar factory near here in the 1830s. He married a local girl named Rose Dale and they moved into a great house near these falls. Later, while Rutherford was in England on business, Rose fell in love with one of the plantation's overseers. When her husband returned home, he learned of his wife's indiscretions. One night, he took Rose and her lover to a cave between the falls, chained the couple to the wall, and sealed the cave with a boulder." Hackaby smirked. "Brings to mind that little affair in Spain, when last we met. As I recall, you boys tied me up, stuffed me into the wall of an abandoned building, and bricked over the opening." He looked at Robinson. "You were reading passages by Edgar Allan Poe, weren't you?"
"That was the most fun I'd had in a long time," said Robinson, smiling at the fond memory. "The only downer was that we weren't allowed to leave you in there for ten days -- the same amount of time we spent in a Capetown jail, thanks to you, George."
"Let's let bygones be bygones, shall we?" asked Hackaby. "Why don't you join me for dinner. My treat, of course."
"No thanks," said Scott. "We just want to know what you're up to. And this time don't change the subject."
"And I just want to know what you're up to, Scotty. Shall we compare notes?"
"We're trying to find out who killed Hugh Carlow."
Hackaby clucked his tongue and shook his head. "Tragic. Though I must say, I warned him to move into town. He was much too exposed up there in the hills. But he wouldn't listen. You Americans tend to think you're invincible, don't you?"
"Who killed him?" asked Robinson.
"Poto, I'm sure. No 'foreigners' are safe -- especially foreigners who own businesses in Jamaica."
"You don't think Poto killed him because he was in the business?" asked Scott.
"I'm not sure Poto knew that." Hackaby motioned for a waiter, ordered a Drambuie on ice. "Are you certain you won't join me, at least for a drink?"
Robinson and Scott shook their heads.
"And now you've been off to see Dr. Pringle," said Hackaby. "Quinby called me from Kingston. It occurs to me that we've been given, essentially, the same assignment. Poto has received a preliminary, and rather small, shipment of arms from Cuba. A much larger one is due to arrive shortly. It mustn't be allowed to get through. With that kind of firepower, Poto could, conceivably, topple the government."
"And that would be a bad thing," said Scott.
"Quite. It's not the best of governments, admittedly -- but it's the one we want to see remain in power, because it's committed to protecting British business interests here, of which, as you can imagine, there are many. And I presume you're here because one Cuba in the Caribbean is enough for Washington."
"Yep," said Robinson. "These pesky Marxist guerrillas are responsible for an epidemic of stomach ulcers in D.C."
"Not to mention a rash of nervous breakdowns and hives," chimed in Scott.
"And what did our dear Dr. Pringle have to say?"
Robinson and Scott exchanged glances -- and Scott shrugged.
"He says he's sitting this particular revolution out."
"You believe him?" asked Hackaby.
"Not necessarily," replied Scott.
"He's become such an untrusting soul," said Robinson, a mock complaint.
"Well, gentlemen, someone is buying those arms for Poto. He doesn't have the wherewithal. Dr. Pringle is a wealthy man. And a dyed-in-the-wool socialist. I say we work together. If we can stop that arms shipment, the local security forces will be able to handle Poto on their own."
"We don't trust you, either, George," said Robinson.
Hackaby put a hand over his heart, and a pained expression on his face. "That cuts me deeply. Yes, I stole that microfilm from you in South Africa. But you took credit for recovering that lost art in Spain, after I did all the legwork. I'd say we're even. So how about it? Allies?"
"I thought you preferred to work alone, George," said Robinson.
"I do. But it will be much easier to keep an eye on one another this way."
Scott looked at his partner. "What do you say, Elroy?"
"I say we might -- I repeat, might -- live long enough to regret it," said Robinson.
"Splendid," said Hackaby cheerily. "Now, please, order something. We'll put it on my expense account. I can recommend the gringo pea soup and the escoveitched, a bottle of good chardonnay and some Blue Mountain coffee." He consulted his watch. "And then it will be time to meet my man in Poto's organization. He has vital information regarding the arms shipment."