Maybe no one is born to espionage, but Illya Kuryakin can say, at least, that he came by his skills early on, and naturally.

Cryptography: By the time he is eight, Illyushke knows two alphabets, four languages. By the time he's nine, half of them are secret.

Eavesdropping: He's supposed to be sleeping, but he creeps toward the door, toward his mother's voice, and those of strangers …come here sooner or later… you can't imagine… in Varshe… Byalistok… Minsk… Pinsk… Bresht… Keshenev… East, maybe… stay, fight… army, ha! … arms?... afraid… no? not even for your…?

Disguise: Listening at doors again, though the apartment isn't theirs— it smells different, no better or worse. He's been settled down on an ottoman, given a cup of tea: sweet jam at the bottom a rare treat, but he can't sit, can't swallow because… each do what we must… of course we'll take… you're lucky he's so fair.

Deception: 'This is your uncle now, and this is your auntie. Remember what I told you? What to say if anyone asks? That's right: your mother was auntie's sister. She died when you were small. Now, love, forget me. Your mother's been gone a long time.'