Buncombe 'Bunny' Chipstead is an agent with the Secret Service, both British and American.
He is a free-lance operative to be more accurate, which means in this context that he is at liberty to decide what does and does not interest him.
He is described as "a slight, wiry, immaculately dressed man of forty-four. At first glance he might have been taken for a soldier of fortune come into a rich inheritance or a big-game hunter home on holiday after complete a hazardous trip". He was a little of both. "He had soldiered in many countries, whilst the big-game he had hunted had included many men who were more desperate that any wild beasts".
Further, it is said that his lean face had a wind-swept, bleak expression at times "which was redeemed from utter grimness by humorous grey eyes". "He was tanned almost to a leather hue; he weighed exactly 135 lbs, could use his fists or a revolver with equal facility" and "had once half-killed [a mugger] in a back-alley of Paris by a simple ju-jitsu trick."
Chipstead was the offspring of an American father, an industrialist specializing in the manufacture of automobiles, and an English mother, one of the Derbyshite Knowltons". "From his father he had inherited a hard-headed, dominant quality, typically American, and from his serene-eyed beautiful mother a smiling disregard of all risks".
Chipstead had been expected by his father to enter the family business but the young man "evinced a total dislike for anything to do with a motor-car, except the capacity to drive one at a high speed". Instead he set about to have as many adventures across Europe as he could find, including taking part in the European War, as it was known before America joined in.
After being badly wounded in that conflict, he was taken into the Intelligence Corps and displayed "such extraordinary capacity for the work that .. he had risen to a very high rank". After the War it was suggested to him that he should become "a free-lance of the American Secret Service" and he agreed. Soon after, though, a friendly acquaintanceship was made with the heads of England's Intelligence Department.
Chipstead, "blessed with an ample fortune and with absolutely no ties", found his life exciting and extremely interesting as he "travelled extensively, executing delicate commissions, not only for the American, but for the British Government, working for the love of the job alone".
We meet him as he occupies a suite of comfortably furnished rooms overlooking St. James' Street in London where he felt as much at home as he did back in the States. Chipstead, complete with his ever-present monocle, was quite cosmopolitan in that he "knew his Europe as well as he knew his New York".
- Chipstead "was used to the strangeness of the modern adventure called Life."