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My Secret Service: Vienna, Sophia, Constantinople, Nish, Belgrade, Asia Minor

213 pages
Library of Alexandria
I am not a spy, that I wish to make abundantly clear; I am a journalist, and I love my profession. Equally well I love adventure and sport, the greatest sport in the world, in which the stake is the player’s life. “Were you ever afraid?” a young and charming English girl recently asked me. “Afraid!” I replied. “Listen! Imagine yourself with two maps next to your skin, each marked with German submarine bases, military works, and the like. Then you are interrogated by half-a-dozen German Secret Service officers. The least hesitation, the slightest faltering in a reply and, at a motion of the hand two German soldiers take you into an adjoining room, strip you, and—ten minutes later you are dead.” The girl blushed: in my earnestness I had forgotten. Yes! I have been afraid many times; yet, with the gambler’s instinct, I have continued the game which, sooner or later, will probably end in a little episode in which the protagonists will be myself and a firing party—somewhere in the enemy country. I am a citizen of a neutral country. Those in high places whom it concerns know all about me, have seen my passports, examined what remains of my ticket on the Balkan Express with its perforation “18—1—16,” and can testify from the chain of documents I possess, from which not a link is missing, that I have actually been where I say I have. When war broke out I found myself in England, and I immediately saw in the terrible struggle great possibilities for myself. I am twenty-six years of age and speak, besides my native tongue, English, German, French and Flemish. I had lived in England before the war broke out, and have learned to love it second only to my own country. I was anxious to help in the great struggle, and I determined to try and find out as much as I could about the great German War-Machine. For twelve months I have been engaged upon this interesting task, visiting Frankfurt, Hanau, Neuwied, Essen (and other cities in Germany), Vienna, Buda Pesth, Bucharest, Sofia, Constantinople, Brasso, Rustchouk, Adrianople, Nish, Belgrade, Konia (Asia Minor), etc. Incidentally, I have proved that the German spy system is not so perfect as it is considered by many in this country. In all I have paid three visits to the enemy countries, each time using the same name, but following a different trade or profession. First I was a workman, and crossed the frontier in shamelessly shabby clothes and with very little impedimenta in the way of luggage. I professed to be a steel-driller, having had a very slight experience in that occupation, obtained for the purpose of my visit. In this guise I penetrated the German Holy of Holies, the famous Krupp factories at Essen. Here for some days I worked, until it was discovered what an execrably bad workman I was. Summary and ignominious dismissal followed, but never did a man take his dismissal less to heart than I. I had gathered some interesting and valuable information, and had seen many remarkable things. This was in March, 1915, although the account was not published until February, 1916, as the Censor prohibited my story appearing in the press, no doubt for very good reasons.