It does not seem as though Mrs. Sappleton is necessarily self-absorbed so much as Mr. Nuttel catches her at an inopportune time. Mr. Nuttel has letters of introduction from his sister to give to people who live in the area where he will be staying during his relaxing retreat. Since he has never met the Sappletons before, and he bears with him a letter of introduction, it can be inferred that he has dropped in on the household without an appointment. Mrs. Sappleton is preparing for the return of her husband and brothers who have been hunting, and she is worried about the following:
"I hope you don't mind the open window . . . my husband and brothers will be home directly from shooting . . . they'll make a fine mess over my poor carpets. So like you menfolk, isn't is?"
From Mrs. Sappleton's concerns, it seems as though she feels she must be prepared for the men when they come home because of the mess they will make if she does not intervene. For example, she may want to help them with their muddy boots before they walk into the house. Furthermore, Framton notices that while he is speaking about his situation, Mrs. Sappleton's eyes do wander from him to the window often. However, calling Mrs. Sappleton self-absorbed might not be the right word because Framton has caught his hostess at a time when she is busy with preparing the house for her family members who are coming home soon. Therefore, Mrs. Sappleton seems more distracted than she is self-absorbed because she wants to keep her carpets from being soiled when the men come back.