They aren't mine, but I sure like to borrow them! ;)

Store Cupboard Spies

"Mrs. Hughes, would you mind..." Charles Carson started as he entered into the store cupboard.

"SHHHH!" Elsie Hughes was standing on a small step stool, peering out of the small, dingy window just beyond the flour stock.

"What exactly is it that you're doing, and why does it involve me being quiet," he asked as he quietly shut the door.

She gritted her teeth and held a shaking index finger to her lips, fire in her eyes. She used her other hand to beckon him over to join her.

Charles leaned towards the window but couldn't make anything intelligible out of the quiet mumblings. "I have no idea what it is you are hearing, but..."

"Mr. Carson, if you do not keep quiet, I'll give you something to be loud about!"

He immediately stilled and tried again to understand what was obviously so interesting going on just beyond the pane.

Elsie's face visibly softened as she watched the scene unfolding outside the window. "Oh dear," she sighed, her eyes wistful with a twinge of worry. She stepped down off the stool, and used her hands to grip his shoulders and bring him over to the window.

"See for yourself."

Charles strained his eyes to peer through the dirty glass. "What exactly is it that I'm looking at, and why is this window so dirty?"

"Oh stop! We're in the store cupboard. Who ever is in here to look through it?" She shook her head. His quest for perfection knew no bounds. She stepped back onto the stool and turned his head to pointedly face in the direction of her intended target.

With their heads firmly pressed together, spying fervently through the glass, Charles began to process what was going on.

"Is that...?"

"Yes, I'm afraid it is."

"Well, well." He said with a slight chuckle. Charles Carson, chuckling. Wonders never cease. "What do you suppose we should do about that?"

"What can we do?" Elsie gently bumped his shoulder with her own.

Neither would have the chance to answer the question as William crashed through the hall door, dropping a rather heavy crate.

It startled all four of them, the two closing the distance outside the window and the two regarding them from inside. Elsie slipped on the stool but Charles was there to catch her and set her back upright on the much steadier floor.

She patted his arm. "Mr. Bates is a good man. That I know and hope that you believe."

"I do, Mrs. Hughes. I do."

"We've got to figure this out, for both of their sakes."

"So you don't think we should step in here? Interfere?"

She reached over to him taking both of his hands into her own.

"Can you imagine if someone would have done that to us?"

He pulled her into his arms, wrapping them soundly around her and gently kissing the top of her head.

"No, I cannot. Then again, we aren't quite as obvious now are we?"

She stealthily escaped his embrace, reaching over to the counter upon which the sugar rested and drew back a hand full of keys. She snuck a quick look into the servants hall to be sure the commotion, and the staff, had cleared and soundly locked the door.

"If you want obvious Charles, all you have to do is ask."