“Now Pearl, don’t get melodramatic. I am sure there is a perfectly logical explanation for Hobbs’ absence. I shall go to the service quarters and investigate.”
“Oh my, do you think that wise? What if something dreadful has happened? Pearl feels something has been lurking about the place as of late.”
Indignant over Victoria making reference to her, even though she agreed with her statement, Pearl quipped, “Despite Victoria’s overwhelming paranoia it is probably a good idea to take someone with you to investigate. One never knows what is around the corner these days.”
Seeing Victoria’s concern Burl stood,
“I’ll go with you Steerforth!”
“No need my good fellow. Besides someone should stay here with the ladies, don’t you agree?”
Nodding, Burl sat and began regaling them with stories of past excursions to the lake for summer picnics. All button eyes followed Steerforth except for Burl who gazed upon Victoria as he spoke.
Reaching the lower level Steerforth called out, “Hobbs, are you here?”
Suddenly the clattering of pots resounded as something crashed to the floor. Steerforth charged into the room expecting the worst. Hobbs lay sprawled amongst a passel of pots and pans.
“Sir, you startled me. I was reaching for one of the frying pans when you called out. What are you doing down here?”
“I rang several times and when you did not appear I decided to investigate.”
He offered his paw helping Hobbs from the floor.
“Thank you sir, I am honored by your concern.” bowing, his tie still askew. “But sir, the bell did not ring, of this I am certain.”
Puzzlement rumpled their mohair snouts. Upon further inspection they discovered the pull was detached from the bell.
“Well there’s the problem. The blasted thing is disconnected. I’ll send for Mr. Ham to fix it.”
“I shall be happy to fetch him, sir.” Hobbs said nobly.
“Thank you Hobbs. The more expeditiously it is repaired the sooner I can put the ladies’ minds at ease. They had it in their furry heads that you had fallen prey to something devious lurking about the house.”
Both bears chuckled at the thought. Stopping in the doorway Steerforth turned, “Hobbs, could you send someone else to fetch Mr. Ham. I need you to prepare another cup of Earl Gray for Miss Bearwell.
Straightening his tie Hobbs let out a deep sigh. “Of course sir. Right away.”
Steerforth returned upstairs as Hobbs sent word to Mr. Ham via the gardener. Returning to his duties of preparing the second cup of what would no doubt become fifty cups of Earl Gray over the course of the afternoon, his mohair began to stand on end as a sense of uneasiness rushed through his stuffing…