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- The Secrets of the German War Office - 1/34 -
The Secrets of the German War Office Dr. Armgaard Karl Graves with the collabaration of Edward Lyell Fox
In view of the general war into which Europe has been precipitated just at the moment of going to press, it is of particular interest to note that the completed manuscript of this book has been in the hands of the publishers since June 1st. Further comment on Dr. Graves' qualifications to speak authoritatively is unnecessary; the chapters that follow are a striking commentary on his sources of information.
The Publishers August 7, 1914.
Chapter I. How I Became a Secret Agent
_"O Jerum, jerum, jerum, quâ motatio rerum."_
Half past three was heard booming from some clock tower on the twelfth day of June, 1913, when Mr. King, the Liberal representative from Somerset, was given the floor in the House of Commons. Mr. King proceeded to make a sensation.
He demanded that McKinnon Wood, the House Secretary for Scotland, reveal to the House the secrets of the strange case of Armgaard Karl Graves, German spy.
A brief word of explanation may be necessary. Supposed to be serving a political sentence in a Scotch prison, I had amazed the English press and people by publicly announcing my presence in New York City.
Mr. King asked if I was still undergoing imprisonment for espionage; if not, when and why I was released and whether I had been or would be deported at the end of my term of imprisonment as an undesirable alien.
Permit me to quote verbatim from the Edinburgh _Scotsman_ of June 12, 1913:
The Secretary for Scotland replied--Graves was released in December last. It would not be in accordance with precedent to state reasons for the exercise of the prerogative. I have no official knowledge of his nationality. The sentence did not include any recommendation in favor of deportation.
Mr. King--Was he released because of the state of his health?
The Secretary for Scotland--I believe he was in bad health, but I cannot give any other answer.
Mr. King--Were any conditions imposed at the time of his release?
The Secretary for Scotland--I think I have dealt with that in my answer. (Cries of "No.")
Mr. King--Can the right hon. gentleman be a little more explicit? (Laughter.) We are anxious to have the truth. Unless the right hon. gentleman can give me an explicit answer as to whether any conditions were imposed I will put down the question again. (Laughter.)
The Speaker intervened at this stage, and the subject dropped.
Heckling began at this point; word was quickly sent to the Speaker, and he intervened, ruling the subject closed.
Now consider the Secretary for Scotland's statement. "It would not be in accordance with precedent to state reasons for the exercise of prerogative." In other words, high officials in Enghand had found it advisable secretly to release me from Barlinney Prison by using the royal prerogative. Why? Later you will know.
Also, consider the Secretary for Scotland's statement that he had no official knowledge as to my _nationality_--significant that, as you will realize.
There are three things which do not concern the reader: My origin, nationality and morals. There are three persons alive who know who I am. One of the three is the greatest ruler in the world. None of the three, for reasons of his own, is likely to reveal my identity.
I detest sensationalism and wish it clearly understood that this is no studied attempt to create mystery. There is a certain dead line which no one can cross with impunity and none but a fool would attempt to. Powerful governments have found it advisable to keep silence regarding my antecedents. A case in point occurred when McKinnon Wood, Secretary for Scotland, refused in the House of Commons to give any information whatsoever about me, this after pressure had been brought to bear on him by three mernbers of Parliament. Either the Home Secretary knew nothing about my antecedents, or his trained discretion counseled silence.
I was brought up in the traditions of a house actively engaged in the affairs of its country, for hundreds of years. As an only son, I was promptly and efficiently spoiled for anything else but the station in life which should have been mine--but never has been and, now, never can be. I used to have high aspirations, but promises never kept shattered most of my ideals. The hard knocks of life have made me a fatalist, so now I shrug my shoulders. _"Che sara sara."_ I have had to lead my own life and, all considered, I have enjoyed it. I have crowded into thirty-nine years more sensations than fall to the lot of the average half a dozen men.
Following the custom of our house, I was trained as a military cadet. This military apprenticeship was followed by three years at a famous _gymnasium_, which fitted me for one of the old classic universities of Europe. And after spending six semesters there, I took my degrees in philosophy and medicine. Not a bad achievement, I take it, for a young chap before reaching his twenty-second birthday. I have always been fond of study and had a special aptitude for sciences and the languages. On one occasion I acquired a fair knowledge of Singalese and Tamul in three months.
From the university I returned home. I had always been obstinate and willful, not to say pigheaded, and being steeped in tales of wrongs done to my house and country, and with the crass assurance of a young sprig fresh from untrammeled university life, I began to give vent to utterances that were not at all to the liking of the powers that were. Soon making myself objectionable, paying no heed to their protests, and one thing leading to another, my family found it advisable to send me into utter and complete oblivion. To them I am dead, and all said and done, I would rather have it so.
After the complete rupture of my home ties, I began some desultory globe trotting. I knocked about in out-of-the-way corners, where I observed and absorbed all sorts of things which became very useful in my subsequent career. A native, and by that I mean an inhabitant, of non-European countries always fascinated me, and I soon learned the way of disarming their suspicion and winning their confidence--a proceeding very difficult to a European. After a time I found myself in Australia and New Zealand, where I traveled extensively, and came to like both countries thoroughly. I have never been in the western part of the United States, but from what I have heard and read I imagine that the life there more closely resembles the clean, healthy, outdoor life of the Australians than any other locality.
I was just on the point of beginning extensive travels in the South Sea Islands, when the situation in South Africa became ominous. War seemed imminent, and following my usual bent of sticking my nose in where I was not wanted I made tracks for this potential seat of trouble. I caught the first steamer for Cape Town landing there a month before the outbreak of war. On horseback I made my way in easy stages up to the Rand. Here happened one of those incidents, which, although small in itself, alters the course of one's life. What took place when I rode into a small town on the Rand known as Doorn Kloof one chilly misty morning, was written in the bowl of fate.
Doorn Kloof is well named; it means "the hoof of the Devil." A straggling collection of corrugated iron shanties set in the middle of a grayish sandy plain as barren of vegetation as the shores of the Dead Sea, sweltering hot an hour after sunrise, chilly cold an hour after sunset, populated by about four hundred Boers of the old narrow-minded ultra Dutch type with as much imagination as a grasshopper--that is Doorn Kloof.
When I rode into the village I was in a decidedly bad temper. Hungry, wet to the skin, the dismal aspect of the place, the absence of anything resembling a hotel, the incivility of the inhabitants, all contributed to shorten my, by no means long, temper. I was ripe for a row. As I rode down the solitary street I found a big burly _Dopper_ flogging brutally a half-grown native boy. This humanitarian had the usual Boer view that the sambrock is more effective than the Bible as a civilizing medium. After convincing him of the technical error of his method, I attended to the black boy, whose back was as raw as a beefsteak. Kim completely adopted me and he is with me still. I christened him Kim, after Kipling's hero, for his Basuto name is unpronounceable. He has repaid me often for what he considers the saving or his life. Not many months later Kim was the unconscious cause of a radical change in my destiny. I have ceased to wonder at such things.
By the time Kim had learned sorne of the duties of a body servant we had reached Port Natal. War had broken out and I volunteered with a Natal field force in a medical capacity. Field hospital work took me where the fighting was thickest. During the battle of the Modder River among the first of the wounded brought in was one of the many foreign officers fighting on the Boer side. It was Kim who found him. This officer's wound was fairly serious and necessitated close attention. Through chance remarks dropped here and there, the officer placed my identity correctly. It developed that he was Major Freiherr von Reitzenstein, one of the few who knew the real reasons of my exile.
In one of our innumerable chats that grew out of our growing intimacy, he suggested my entering the service of Germany in a political capacity. He urged that with my training and social connections I had exceptional equipment for such work. Moreover, he suggested that my service on political missions would give me the knowledge and influence necessary to checkmate the intriguers who were keeping me from my own. This was the compelling reason that made me ultimately accept his proposal to become a Secret Agent of Germany. No doubt, if the Count had lived, I would have gained my ends through his guidance and influence, but he was killed in a riding race, three years after our meeting in the Veldt, and I lost my best friend. By that time I
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