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‘Grant,’ I said, sidling into my bedroom again after breakfast. Grant started violently and she and I both winced as her knuckles rapped against the inside of the drawer where she was carefully laying out newly ironed underclothes.
‘Nothing wrong is there?’ she said. ‘Madam. Why aren’t you out on your walk?’ She glanced out of the window where the weather was as fine as could be hoped for, for May in Perthshire, that is chilly and gusty but, for the moment, almost dry. I felt a small slump at the thought of my predictability, but I rallied myself before she could see it and set a bright smile on my face.
‘I’m fine,’ I said. ‘What are your plans for the day?’ Grant frowned at me, more perplexed than ever.
‘My plans?’ she said. ‘I was going to start on changing over your wardrobe, laying away your winter things and seeing if any of your summer frocks from last year are worth airing out again.’
‘I see. Well, I’m going to have to ask you to leave all that, I’m afraid, while I bend you to my will.’ I smiled even wider; Grant frowned even deeper. ‘I- I- I don’t quite know, Grant, how much of what I do’ - I took a deep breath - ‘professionally, I mean, has come to your attention in the last while.’
‘You mean Gilver and Osborne Investigations?’ My mouth dropped open. ‘I thought you must be starting on a new case. How can I help you?’
‘I see. Yes. So you do know about it then.’ The name of Gilver and Osborne was pure servants’ hall fantasy of course (although it had a ring to it) but there was no question that Grant was fully informed.
‘Oh yes, madam,’ she said. ‘We were all very proud of you downstairs over that last business. Even Mr Pallister, now that the master knows all about it and has given it his blessing.’ Grant delivered all of this in her usual blithe tone, then finished it off with a belated and unconvincing: ‘if you’ll excuse the liberty.’
‘Right, well, good,’ I said. ‘In that case, what I’m about to ask you will come as less of a surprise. I’m going undercover, Grant. Do you know what that means?’ She nodded, looking thrilled.
‘What as?’ she breathed. ‘I can drop everything this minute and get a costume run up for you, madam. When do you need it?’
‘I’m starting on Monday. I’m going downstairs. I’m going to be a lady’s maid.’
Grant’s lips twitched once, twice, then she bit her cheeks and pulled her eyebrows very firmly downwards.
‘And your "mistress", madam?’ she said, with her voice under commendable control. ‘Is it her you’re investigating?’
‘No,’ I said, ‘it’s she who has employed me.’
‘Oh, well then,’ said Grant, lifting her hands high and letting them clap down softly against her skirt again, ‘in that case you’ll be fine.’ As votes of confidence go it was a stinker but, like most other people, I always claim to value honesty and so I could not refuse such a good dollop of it when it was served up to me.