I stared at him for a while. ““What exactly did he say?”
“That you would probably need a helping hand.”
“Did he mention what kind of help?”
“He didn’t say specifically.”
“Did you make a noise at the front of this door for me to hear?”
“Yes. I have learnt that it is polite to make some noise when you approach someone’s door so that they know someone might be approaching.”
He indeed was meticulous! If he meets all my requirements, I was really going to steal him away from here and have him work for me.
“Do you have a strong stomach for gruesome things?”
“I think I rather do.”
I clenched my hands and stood back from the door after unlocking it and allowed him in. As he stepped into the room, he froze only for a few seconds as he saw the dead woman slumped on the chair. I closed the door behind him and locked it.
“I need to clean this up. Can you help?”
He glanced at me. He seemed to be taken aback momentarily and then regained his composure. I waved him away.
“That’s the food taster,” I said. “She admitted that she tampered with the food and was trying to search his room. She would have done the same to the Grand Duke if she had the chance. And having admitted her deed, it was risky to let her go.”
He stood there, lost for words. Then he rubbed the bridge between his eyebrows as though this was unbelievable. I have seen Alex do that a hundred times when he was dealing with me.
“Aren’t you the daughter of a Marquess?” he asked.
“Of course! And I promise it’s not like this in Wishburn estate,” I said. “I still want to recruit you, you know. If you don’t have a family and if you want to make one, there are so many wonderful women in Wishburn that you might want to marry.”
Archer didn’t respond. He walked up to the dead woman on the chair and examined her state. Then he looked at the blood on the floor with a few toes rolling there.
“You don’t work neatly.”
I shrugged. “Interrogations aren’t my specialty. Killing is easier for me.”
“Did she reveal who ordered her to do it?”
“Which drug did she use?”
“Ah, she wouldn’t say.”
Archer looked at me skeptically. He seemed to want to say something then thought better of it. He turned back to the body on the chair.
“Next time, it would be more useful if you could leave the interrogation to someone else,” he said. ‘it’s a waste to kill them without getting out as many information as we can.”
“I ran into her while passing by. And it’s not like I did this with no preparations.”
It was a lie. I was not prepared. And that damned man had made me feel so flustered. I had seen him suffer. I wanted to make the culprit pay for what happened to him. I still felt cutting off her toes had been very generous.
Maybe he was right. I should leave the interrogation to someone who knows how to do it.
“Are you good at interrogation?”
Archer didn’t look at me. He loosened the string around the woman’s neck. “I have some experience.”
“Does that happen here often?”
“It’s better if it doesn’t.”
Archer laid the girl on the floor. “There is a part of the forest where wild animals usually appear. We can say she went out for a walk in the morning and might have wandered there. We could have made it look like a suicide but …”
I realized that if I hadn’t cut off her toes, it would have been easier to clean up the whole mess. Hopefully, things like these don’t need to happen in the future.
But that was hopeful considering the King and the Princess were in cahoots scheming things against the Grand Duke. If they think the Grand Duke was planning a rebellion, there would be more incidences like these. They might even send assassins.
It might have been wiser for the Grand Duke to continue his reclusive existence and never invite anyone to his land. It would have been safer.
“But why would the food taster go out for a walk alone?”
“I don’t know,” said Archer and thought about it for a while. “Maybe she was seeing someone in secret. A man she met at the castle? They planned to meet early in the morning so she went but she got lost and wandered into the area infested by wild animals.”
Ah, he is clever. He knows how to deal with dead bodies. I could really use someone like him. He could come in handy in situations like these.
“I will give you double the salary you get here. What do you think? Will you work for me?”
Archer sighed. He frowned at me. “I am not going to leave My Lord’s side. Please, stop it.”
“Our land is really good!” I tried one last time. “My father and mother are really good employers.”
“Can I ask you something that might sound impudent?”
I raised my eyebrows. Archer’s voice was serious. “Sure, go ahead.”
“Does My Lord know about this?”
“Sort of,” I said. “He sent you down to help me, didn’t he?”
“Do you… do this on your estate too?”