“A highly cultured lady…”

A week after writing to Marlborough Churchill to express her interest in becoming an Army spy, Marguerite Harrison met Col. Walter Martin in the lobby of the Emerson Hotel in downtown Baltimore for an interview.

She impressed Martin by speaking German so fluently that he wondered where she had learned it. She laughed off his suspicions. She came from true American stock. Her father had been a Baltimore shipping magnate. Her grandfather had served as mayor of Baltimore. On her mother’s side, her ancestors had helped settle Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

She was a naturally gifted linguist who spoke Italian, French, German, Italian, and a bit of Spanish. Her ambitious mother had hoped to marry her into European royalty. Instead, she had settled for a Baltimore banker, who died of a brain tumor.

Martin later wrote to Churchill that, “She remarked she is fearless, fond of adventure, and has an intense desire to do something for her country. I can readily believe her….she impressed me most favorably.”

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