The event that had such a great influence on Mrs Forrester's literary activities happened towards the end of one of her most successful parties. The guests sat in a circle of which Mrs Forrester was the centre. She was talking and the rest of the company were listening with great attention, only interrupting her from time to time to ask a question. Suddenly there came a noise as if something heavy had fallen, and then came the sound of voices.
"Well, Carter, what is it?" Mrs Forrester asked the maid. "Is the house falling down?"
"It's the new cook's box, ma'am," answered the maid. "The porter dropped it as he was bringing it in and the cook got all upset about it."
"What do you mean by 'the new cook'?"
"Mrs Bullfinch went away this afternoon, ma'am," said the maid.
"Does Mr Forrester know about it?" Mrs Forrester asked, for matters like that were his responsibility. "The moment Mr Forrester comes in, tell him that I want to speak to him."
"Mr Forrester's gone, ma'am," answered the maid. "He said I was to give you this letter when you asked for him."
The maid left the room, and Mrs Forrester opened the letter. One of her lady friends told me that at the sight of Mrs Forrester reading the letter she thought that Albert, feeling responsible for the cook's departure, and being afraid he would be punished, had thrown himself in the Thames [temz].
Mrs Forrester read the letter and cried out: "Oh, how unfair! how terrible!"
"What is it, Mrs Forrester?" asked Mr Simmons [´sImqnz], her agent. "Read it", she said. "Just read it."
The short-sighted Mr Simmons put on his glasses, and holding the letter very close to his eyes read this: