ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER did not voluntarily tell his wife he fathered a love child with the housekeeper  —  he confessed only after MARIA SHRIVER confronted the woman, who admitted it.

Maria asked MILDRED “PATTY” BAENA if her son was fathered by Arnold and the housekeeper broke down and confessed, reported

Armed with that information, Maria then confronted her husband, who admitted it.

That’s the REAL STORY of how the love child scandal unfolded in the Arnold-Maria household.

In his only public statement about the matter, Arnold said: "After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago.”

Those carefully scripted words don’t begin to tell the story of what REALLY happened.

“Maria has suspected this for a long time and she asked the housekeeper,” a source close to the situation said.

“The housekeeper admitted it. Maria then went to Arnold and he confessed.”

He didn’t volunteer the information,  and it could have remained a secret forever if Maria hadn’t asked.

Yet, Mildred, aka Patty, couldn’t carry the secret any longer, according to another source.

“It’s amazing she didn’t crack before this,” said the source.

And Patty was NOT fired by Arnold, says another source, despite earlier reports.

“Yes, her employment ended, but it ended without animosity,” one source said.

A pal told  “She was upset with Arnold at the time and didn’t know what to do, she thought about going public, but it was a fleeting thought. Ultimately she didn’t want to hurt Arnold. But she also didn’t want her employment to end. It WAS a difficult situation.”

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