What kind of stupid daydream does she live in? “Really?” I said sarcastically. “With soldiers on guard? My maid could have come here any time. What did you think would happen to you if you were caught? You are a maid who sneaked into a noble’s room. Do you really think the princess would take your side on this?”
I didn’t know if the princess knew about this but I was sure that the princess wouldn’t take the side of a maid when a noble was involved. It showed bad faith and the royals needed all the loyalty they could muster. The maid cried.
“Just answer this one question,” I said. “What does the Princess want with Aaron Warwick and Ethan Duplo? How are they connected?”
The maid gulped several times before she answered. “No one is allowed to be there with them when they are talking so I don’t know much.”
“Maybe you don’t know the details but I don’t think you are completely oblivious of it either. What do you know about the situation?” asked the Grand Duke calmly.
The maid wiped her eyes and took a deep breath. “Her Highness, the Princess thinks Aaron Warwick is important. I don’t know what she meant exactly but she said that her union with Aaron Warwick was of extreme importance to the kingdom. She also said something about… legs. I don’t know what it meant but they talked about legs a few times.”
Legs? What on earth is the princess talking about?
“If you find out more, inform us. I will pay you immediately while you are here and after that too if you continue informing us,” said the Grand Duke. “You can leave notes in my room when you are here and send me letters when you return to the royal palace. Let me know the address and I will send you the money wherever you want me to. You, or maybe your family.”
The maid swallowed and held her throat. She glanced at the Grand Duke and at me. “My house. To my house,” she said, with difficulty.
The maid gulped once more and rubbed her throat. She glanced at me. She then glanced at the Grand Duke. Perhaps she thought he was more trustworthy. “I… have a child,” she said. “I was just trying to earn a little money for my child. The queen didn’t expect anything huge. She just told me to find something that would be enough to cause a scandal. Just enough to embarrass you.” She looked at me. “I am sorry. I didn’t think it would do much harm.”
I chuckled. The Great Duke smiled.
“Secrets, no matter how small and insignificant, always end up harming someone,” I said. “Only fools hope to stay safe while doing something like this. Remember that. You could end up dying, you know. And then what will happen to your child after that?”
The maid looked between me and the Grand Duke uneasily. “If we turn you in, who would believe you if you say the Queen made you do it?” I asked. “You are just a maid. You might lose your job. Do you think anyone would hire you after being fired from the royal palace?”
Her face paled. Maybe only now did she realize that what she did wasn’t as harmless as she thought. Why are there so many naïve fools in this world?
“If you inform me about the Princess and the Queen, and if possible, the King, I will reward you,” said the Grand Duke. “If you ever are fired from the royal palace, I will make sure you find a job here at Glouster. You can even bring your child here if you want.”
The maid’s eyes widened. Obviously! I, myself, would never let go of such an offer. A job and a place to live. I would have just threatened her to give me information, but the Grand Duke offered her much more than just life, he offered her a livelihood for herself and her child. As expected of a detective. So, this was how you turned someone into an informant! By giving them something they couldn’t refuse.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Maeve Corason, daughter of Baron of Ys.”
The title of a baron was almost honorary. But they had no estates for themselves and only a small amount of wealth. Unfortunately, the title wasn’t hereditary. The future offspring had to find their own way to earn. No wonder Maeve was so desperate for a reasonable income. She had become a maid at the royal palace and seen the Queen’s order as an opportunity to gain success.
“Okay, Maeve,” I said. “So, your job will be to inform us about What the Princess does and who she meets. When you go back to the royal palace, you can continue informing us of the same. Tell us everything about what happens inside the palace. Understood?”
“I will send someone to you tonight,” said the Grand Duke. “Tell them your address where you wish for the money to be delivered.”
The maid nodded and stood up. She made as though to leave. I snapped my fingers. “You should return what’s mine before you go,” I said. “Don’t double cross us if you value your life.”
The maid’s face paled. She revealed a bundle of parchment from the folds of her skirt and handed them to me. She bowed and left in a hurry.