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Valentine Williams

The Gold Comfit Box

Hodder & Stoughton 1932
Jacket artwork by TK

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PAGE ONE

It must be getting on for Jive years since I last had tidings of the redoubtable Dr. Grundt, once known and feared in the world of international espionage (by reason of a physical deformity) as " The Man With the Clubfoot." He was then said to be living on a small property he owned in Southern Germany, devoting himself, as I have heard, to the breeding of cats, an animal for which he displayed a peculiar predilection. " How inexhaustible and alluring a study the cat ! " I recollect his saying to me on the occasion of one of our most thrilling encounters—the scene was the Villa Waldesruh* at Kiel and the circumstances of our meeting will be found fully set forth in these pages. " How friendless, how aloof, how sublimely egoistic and unfathomable ! What an example to all who follow our thankless yet fascinating profession ! " And he broke into one of those peals of strident laughter which still, all these years after, will sometimes go ringing through my dreams. He was always a man of mystery, was " der Stelze " (The Lame One), as he was often called in the inner circles of government in Imperial Germany. In the days before the war he was known by name and repute only to the chosen few of us in the British Secret Service, and, of these, 1 was the only one who, up to the outbreak of hostilities, had come into direct contact with that ruthless and terrifying cripple. For Grundt was not of Germany's official espionage services, neither of Nicolai's branch of the Great General Staff, nor yet of von Soy-Ed's Admiralty Intelligence. He was supposedly attached to Section Seven of the Berlin Police Presidency (the Political Police). In

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