In many people, the very name “Spy” excites a shudder of apprehension. We Spies, in fact, get quite used to being shuddered at. None of us Spies mind it at all. Whenever I enter a hotel and register as a Spy, I am accustomed to see a thrill of fear run round the clerks, or clerk, behind the desk.
Us Spies or We Spies – we call ourselves both – are thus a race apart. None know us. All fear us. Where do we live? Nowhere. Where are we? Everywhere. Frequently we don’t know ourselves where we are. The secret orders that we receive come from so high up that it is often forbidden to us even to ask where we are. A friend of mine, or a least a Fellow Spy – us Spies have no friends – one of the most brilliant men in the Grenadian Secret Service, once spent a month in New York under the impression that he was in Budapest. If this happened to the most brilliant, think of the others.
As I said, all fear us. Because they know and have reason to know our power. Hence, in spite of the prejudice against us, we are able to move everywhere, to stay in the best hotels, and enter any society that we wish to infiltrate.
A month ago, I went into one of the largest New York hotels, which I will simply call the B. hotel without naming it. To do so might be a spoiler. We Spies, in fact, never name a hotel. At the most, we indicate it by a number known only to ourselves, such as 1,2, or 3.
On presenting myself at the desk, the clerk informed me that there were no vacant rooms. Of course I knew this to be a lie. Whether or not he suspected that I was a Spy, I cannot say. I was muffled up, to avoid recognition, in a long overcoat with the collar turned up and reaching well above my ears, while the black beard and the mustache I had slipped on when entering the hotel concealed my face. “Let me speak to the manager,” I said. When he came, I took him aside and, taking his ear in my hand, I breathed two words into it. “Good heavens!” he gasped, while his face turned as pale as ashes. “Is it enough?” I snarled. “Can I have a room, or must I breathe again?” “No, no,” said the manager, still trembling. Then, turning to the clerk: “Give this gentleman a room,” he said. “And give him a bath.”
And once, my best friend fainted on the street and among the white-coated ambulance attendants who took him to the hospital I recognized the famous Russian Spy, Poulispantzoff. I had no idea what he was doing there. No doubt his orders came from so high up that he himself did not know. I had seen him only once before, in the interior of China, at the time when Poulispantzoff made his famous secret entry into Tibet concealed in a tea-case. I recognized him instantly. Neither he nor I, however, gave any sign of recognition other than an imperceptible movement of the outer eyelid. (We Spies learn to move the outer lid of the eye so imperceptibly that it cannot be seen except by other Spies.) Yet after meeting Poulispantzoff in this way, I was not surprised to learn a few hours later that the uncle of the young King of Sealand had been assassinated. I am unfortunately not at liberty to explain. The consequences to the Vatican would be too serious.