245 The Artist’s Transformation Into a Detective

    "Why me? Don't you have better people that you could use to investigate?" Yujia asked, her eyebrows gathering together.

    Even though she did plan to originally figure out the identity of the thief on her own, Yujia admitted to being a bit taken aback by Madam Zhang's sudden, unexpected request.

    "I don't trust many people, not even the servants I keep by my side," she responded to Yujia, "Who is to say that they won't betray me due to the temptation of silver? And besides, you passed my test."

    "What test?" Yujia racked her brain.

    "You told me that you found the letters I hid in my box. That proves that you can be dedicated and meticulous enough."

    Yujia laughed. "That was the test?"

    Madam Zhang gave a curt nod. "You passed. Good choice with telling the truth back there."

    Yujia continued to ask another question, "If you don't even trust your personal maids, why would you trust me? How could I be more trustworthy than them?"

    At this, Madam Zhang tapped her perfectly curved nails on the dark wooden table. "I don't truly trust you. I just believe that our goals are aligned enough that we could form a working partnership as of this moment. Would you like to hear my reasons behind this belief?"

    Yujia nodded for the Madam to go on.

    "Firstly, you are definitely not the thief. I can say that part with certainty, since as the Fourth Miss, you would have no purpose to steal from various places in the villa, nor would you have any capability to. Furthermore, since the thievery instances have continued to occur after your departure, it is easy to say that you are not involved with the thieves, making you a very viable candidate as an investigator. I cannot say the same about my personal servants or any other servants in the villa, due to the reasons I mentioned before about their possibilities of betrayal."

    "Secondly, even though I could hire an outside investigator, it is quite shameful and damaging to the image of our villa. It's also inconvenient to have someone who doesn't know the villa well to go around and try to figure out the identity of the thief for me. Having an insider makes everything much easier."

    "Thirdly, you have the capabilities of going undercover. Recently, to get rid of the thief, we have exchanged most of the servants in here for new ones, minus the personal servants and the steward. So, not many people recognize your face. You could easily blend in as a new servant, with a decent disguise like the one you're wearing right now."

    "Lastly, telling you a story doesn't quite take much effort from me, but this story is very valuable to you. So, I do think that it's a good deal on both sides, and why I made this proposition in the first place. What do you say, Fourth Miss?"

    Yujia thought through each of Madam Zhang's points as she listed them out. She did have a fair amount of reason behind it.

    "I still don't get it, though," Yujia interjected, having one last fragment of disbelief, "If you did change out the servants in the villa, then you have a very narrow list of suspects for thieves. Why didn't you just search the rooms of all the personal maids and the steward?"

    "We did," Madam Zhang said with a sigh, "But whoever the thief is, they're quite sneaky. They know to sell the items they sell as soon as they steal it, and with the money, they either store it in a secretive location or spend it immediately as they earn it. I haven't managed to find any solid evidence yet. There needs to be an insider on the situation to give more input."

    Yujia suddenly thought back to the one piece of evidence she stumbled across during her stay in the Yang Villa.

    Manyu, one of the maids who happened to be Hui'er's friend, was once caught with a necklace she had stolen from the First Miss. Because during the time, things had been chaotic, with Manyu accusing Hui'er of being the thief, it felt like an exact punishment was not dealt down on Manyu. Or if there was a punishment, Yujia didn't know about it.

    She blurted out this suspicion. "Do you remember the case of Manyu?"

    "Manyu?" Madam Zhang blinked. "Didn't she steal a necklace?"

    "Yes. Did you deal any punishment to her?"

    "If I remember correctly, she was caned a few times and assigned some horrible tasks in the kitchen. She was about to receive a harsher punishment, like being sent to face the law, but Qingxia herself actually pleaded for the maid's mercy. Qingxia always had a soft heart for things like this..."

    At the talk of her daughter, the expression on Madam Zhang's face softened.

    Yujia shuddered, thinking that this was the exact woman who also ordered for her own child to have a miscarriage, for reasons Yujia still couldn't completely comprehend.

    No matter what, even if Madam Liu had lied, Yujia still couldn't trust Madam Zhang completely.

    ��The thief might not be her, though," Madam Zhang did remember to note. "Manyu was locked in a shed for a few days, just for me to test out her identity as the thief, and while she was locked, the thief did strike again and steal something more valuable. Besides, the thief seems to target highly valuable objects. A necklace like the one Manyu stole isn't anywhere close to the value of some of the other objects stolen."

    Hm. Conspiracies.

    Yujia talked a few moments more with Madam Zhang, who agreed on getting her a list of suspects and items stolen tomorrow. The madam also informed Yujia that she could now enter and exit the villa as she pleased, just for the sake of searching for suspects. She should keep her head low around the maids that knew the Fourth Miss, but other than that, the other servants did not know who Yujia was, so she could just pretend to be a maid to aid in her investigations.

    It didn't seem like a bad deal, so at the end of their meeting, Yujia agreed to what Madam Zhang asked from her. On the way out of the villa, Yujia congratulated herself on getting one step closer to knowing the complete truth about everything.
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