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AGENT OF THE GOVERNMENT

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Full Name: Cyrus Grisscome
Codename: 17
Nationality: American
Organization: State Department
Occupation Agent

Creator: Clarence H. New
Time Span: 1909 - 1909

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Cyrus Grisscome is an agent of American State Department.
       According to the brief synopsis we are given of this gentleman at the beginning of the first recorded adventure, Grisscome is "known to the public as a millionaire yachtsman and society leader, but in reality [is] one of the most able and trusted secret agents of the U.S. Department of State".
       Grisscome is said to have "retired from business at the age of thirty-eight after the development of a lucky bonanza in the Arizona mining-country". He is the proud owner of an exquisite yacht known as the Mirage, 140' of luxurious seaworthiness with lines so fine as "to imply considerable speed at a pinch". Since Grisscome will often use this vessel in his activities for the government, that ability to move quickly will prove useful on more than one occasion.
       Further regarding his employment status, it is said that he "had no occupation in the world beyond that of following his own inclinations - drifting from his palatial estate beyond Gloucester on Cape Ann [in Massachusetts] to his beautiful hacienda in Southern California - and from there to the Mirage for months of cruising, which frequently ended at his country-house in Devonshire, a short two-hour ride from Charing Cross Station".
       It is apparent from these descriptions that Grisscome is a man of leisure with little to do except enjoy himself however he feels whenever he feels like it. Obviously, while Grisscome is undoubtedly extremely wealthy, he uses this cover to be able to perform secretive work for the State Department. Within that field of undercover work, Grisscome used the codename of "17".
       In the nine adventures that exist of this man, we are assured at their start that the storyteller will be revealing exciting tales of suspense and danger. "In the underground game of diplomacy between the world's great Powers, he matches American intuitiveness, resource and wit against the most brilliant and unscrupulous emissaries of the foreign governments. That men of prominence and wide experience are actually employed in such service by the government is only vaguely understood by most Americans, yet, were it not for their unceasing watchfulness and resource, we should find ourselves serious embroiled with other nations every year."
       From the first adventure on, we are shown repeatedly that Grisscome has the attention of the American government, albeit very covertly. He meets regularly with the sitting President (unnamed but really Teddy Roosevelt) and the Secretary of State (SoS) Foote (not his real name, of course). To facilitate these clandestine get-togethers, since Grisscome recently moved into a house off Dupont Circle not too far from Foote's D.C. residence, he has had a secret tunnel constructed 50' below the surface connecting the two residences. At least once the two country leaders came to Grisscome's home via the tunnel for an important meeting.
       Grisscome has refused on several occasions to be paid for his efforts, explaining to the Chief Executive that his success in mining has afforded him all his needs and then some, though he has made it politely but definitely clear that major expenses, like the tunnel construction, would need expensing. He can easily afford such a gesture as he tells the succeeding President (again unnamed but certainly Taft due to a reference to that man's work in the Philippines) that he had a personal wealth of over $30 million, the equivilent of near a billion today).

       Grisscome goes to a good deal of trouble to make sure no one suspects him of his influence with the government leadership or of his extra-curricular activities on its behalf. In addition to his frequent cruises on his yacht, he also maintains at his luxurious Dupont Circle mansion a steady flow of parties and galas, spearheaded by his aunt and his female cousin who live with him in that massive home. The whole purpose of this was to keep his name firmly in the society pages but always with the idea of being one of the idle rich.

       Grisscome is described as "a man very close to six feet in height, but so well proportioned that he would pass for some inches shorter. He is of medium complexion, with fine, dark brown hair and military mustache - keen grey eyes which have a glint of polished steel and turn almost black with the man becomes thoroughly aroused. He has what women consider a very handsome mouth - a square, forceful chin and a straight, Grecian nose".
       In his ability to handle himself, it is said that "few people East of the mining country have ever, knowingly, seen him handle a revolver or rifle - yet it is doubtful if there exists in the country a quicker or a better shot. As a swordsman, his ability is nothing short of inborn genius". Despite that, "he is a man who, nine times out of ten, avoids the use of physical force as he would anything else in extremely bad taste".

       If good heroes need bad enemies, Grisscome has achieved one in great order with the Prussian spy/diplomat, Baron Grosserhaupt. That man strives to achieve the same sort of fame as Grisscome in the 'man-of-leisure, fellow-of-no-real-importance' department. He tries to be thought of as a man "of considerable wealth - is a yachtsman, sportsman, a social lion of cultivated and agreeable manners, in short pretty much everything that a rich man can be except a diplomat." And, again just like Grisscome, the Baron has the ear and confidence of his country's leader, in this case the Kaiser, and can get, when needed, cooperation from German officials whenever he requires it. Grisscome well knows that the Baron "is actually - and has been for years - one of the ablest, most unscrupulous and most trusted secret agents of his government. And the field of his activities encircles the globe".

       Complicating Grisscome's clandestine activities but providing a much appreciated distraction is Alicia Noyes, daughter of one of the Senate's most influential leaders. About Noyes the SoS states, "she has a capacity for seeing things which have been rather important to my Department, and what she can keep her mouth shut better than any other woman I've met". Noyes plays a role in several of the adventures either providing intelligence to Grisscome (he thinks without her realizing it but she is quite sharp) or asking pointed questions or making insightful observations that he would rather avoid.


Interesting line:

After discovering the SoS's new butler was a German spy, Grisscome offered to provide a replacement with "I'll send you another man whom we can be pretty sure of up to a quarter of a million or so. Beyond that, there's no saying what any man will do in a country where money is all-powerful, as a rule".

About using a battleship in a small affair, "That's fighting mosquitoes and scorpions with twelve-inch guns - expensive and, for the purpose, inefficient".

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:9
First Appearance:1909
Last Appearance:1909

1 The Antiraguan Affair The Antiraguan Affair
Written by Clarence H. New
Copyright: 1909

Published in The Blue Book Magazine, Feb 1909.
The US President is concerned that German influences in the Central American republic of Antiragua has extended into having several seats in their parliament. Grisscome sails his Mirage there with a plan to counter their gains by buying into businesses, all under the guise of being an English nobleman.
Click here to read the story.

2 A Diplomatic Outrage A Diplomatic Outrage
Written by Clarence H. New
Copyright: 1909

Published in The Blue Book Magazine, Mar 1909.
Grisscome has become convinced through the reports of US intelligence agents around the globe that a plot by Germany is underway to cause a diplomatic furor between China and the US, leading to that country either declaring war or at least joining with Japan and Germany in an alliance. Certain it will involve assassination of the Chinese ambassador or similar person.

3 A Speculation in Rifles A Speculation in Rifles
Written by Clarence H. New
Copyright: 1909

Published in The Blue Book Magazine, Apr 1909.
After Alicia Noyes informs Grisscome of learning about a shipment of 200k cheap rifles from Germany to some unknown location, Grisscome deduces it will be to the East Indies (likely the Malay Peninsula) where 'Mohammedans' want to take over. He gets the President's permission to sail the Mirage to destroy the arsenal once it arrives. Use of an early form of submarine will be involved.

4 The Teutonic Agreement The Teutonic Agreement
Written by Clarence H. New
Copyright: 1909

Published in The Blue Book Magazine, May 1909.
An American operative was able to pass on via coded message that treaty was to be signed in three weeks creating an alliance of all Teutonic and Slavic nations against the West. That agent is now a prisoner in some castle and Grisscome is determined to come up with a way to free him, not only to get him loose but also because of the intel he undoubtedly still has. He needs the aid of Alicia Noyes. His ultimate plan is not only highly dangerous, it is downright murderous.

5 The Mining of the Dardanelles The Mining of the Dardanelles
Written by Clarence H. New
Copyright: 1909

Published in The Blue Book Magazine, Jun 1909.
Grisscome has learned of a horrific plot by Prussia to help destroy the newly created US White Fleet, soon to enter the Med through the Suez. The ploy was to get the Ottoman Sultan to secretly mine the Dardanelles. Then a very prominent American woman, visiting Istanbul, was to be kidnapped, forcing the American President to send the fleet there, not knowing the straits had been mined.

6 A Blow at the Entente Cordiale A Blow at the Entente Cordiale
Written by Clarence H. New
Copyright: 1909

Published in The Blue Book Magazine, Jul 1909.
Baron Grosserhaupt has a new plan to cause trouble between the U.S. and U.K. Knowing that the Indian subcontinent is growing anxious for independence, his plan is to ship 40,000 Winchester rifles to insurgents there but in such a way as to make sure the fact becomes known that they were delivered on behalf of the U.S. government.

7 The Anti-Expansion League The Anti-Expansion League
Written by Clarence H. New
Copyright: 1909

Published in The Blue Book Magazine, Aug 1909 issue and also in the September 1941 issue.
[plot unknown]

8 The Commission from Argentina The Commission from Argentina
Written by Clarence H. New
Copyright: 1909

Published in The Blue Book Magazine, Sep 1909 issue.
[plot unknown]

9 The Rescue of a Scientist The Rescue of a Scientist
Written by Clarence H. New
Copyright: 1909

Published in The Blue Book Magazine, Oct 1909 issue.
[plot unknown]

MY COMMENTS

       I had the great honor of being allowed to not only peruse but also take scads of snapshots of the original typed pages of this series typed by the author, Clarence Herbert New, over one hundred years ago. I have still to read the final three stories though they are on my computer.
       My appreciation for what this man accomplished is tremendous but it is important to understand that though he was already quite prolific in his output for Blue Book Magazine, this short series still more of a training ground. Or to put it another way, his even shorter series about The International Bureau was like his apprenticeship in spy-fi writing and this series, the Agent of the Government, is his journeyman work. Soon I will be releasing the page on his master work, the 260+ monthly adventures of the Free Lances of Diplomacy. However, I do not think he would have started that opus if not for what he learned and honed with AotG.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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