by Mary Norton
illustrated by Diana Stanley
Week of August 23, 2009
Arrietty reveals everything about Borrowers to the boy, from how they borrow; to the storeroom under the floor; Pod’s early exploits and the skill and courage he has shown; and the early days when they were rich and had many belongings but which were destroyed when a kitchen boiler burst. She told him how her father would borrow from “Her”. He would slip into her room and onto the dressing table. He would walk around on her quilt. Pod felt safe since every day at six o’clock she was given a decanter of Fine Old Pale Madeira and would drink it all by midnight. She thought Pod came out of the decanter. Once long ago he took Homily with him and she saw both of them. Now she thinks the Madeira is watered down because she has never seen the little woman again.
The boy tells Arrietty how “She” gives him dictation and teaches him to write in the mornings “when she is cross.” He tells Arrietty how Mrs. D is fat and has a mustache and says she’ll take a slipper to him one of these days.
When asked if she thought borrowing was stealing, Arrietty explained the difference. They are borrowers and are part of the house. You might say “the fire grate steals the coal from the coal scuttle.” Borrowers don’t steal. “Human beans are for Borrowers – like bread’s for butter.” The boy doesn’t believe “that’s what we’re for at all and I don’t believe we’re dying out.” He goes on to tell her about the world and the millions and millions of big people in it, and tells her that the Borrowers are dying out; and, in fact, he believes Uncle Hendreary and his family and all the other Borrower families are dead and that the Clocks are the only Borrowers left, and that one day it will be just Arrietty. However, when he realizes how he has frightened Arrietty he offers to go find Uncle Hendreary and his family and asked her if she would like to send along a letter to them. She is to leave the letter under the hall mat by the front door. Suddenly he was gone and she almost believed this encounter with the boy never took place. She startled when Pod called for her to come and told her to get rid of that primrose she was carrying. “You can’t lug great flowers about—you got to carry a bag.”
Arrietty shows her innocence in trusting “the boy” as she is revealing everything to him about her family and borrowing, and how they were once rich. It must have been exciting for her to hear about his world.
I had wondered how they got “poor”, but all was explained in this chapter. Poor Homily, it must have been so hard for her to give up her treasured belongings.
I laughed when I read about the "emerald watch" hanging on the wall. I'm not sure I'll find one of those for my Borrower home. The Clocks wouldn't be poor any more if they had a way to sell that little trinket off. (I just had a thought. A borrower house would make a great place to "hide" one's jewels from a burglar. What burglar would rifle through a dollhouse? He would most likely overlook it completely. All the jewels would be safe.)
I really hope the Clocks find some friends or family to be with. They
seem in terrible isolation. Maybe when the boy goes home, he will find a way
to take them along; although I’m positive Homily wouldn’t be happy
going to India. I think Pod and certainly Arrietty would love it. It’s
interesting how so many stories are set in India. Some of my favorite books
take place in India. It must have all seemed so “romantic” and,
of course, exciting and dangerous to set off for a foreign country like India
back in those days.
And even more exciting for the Boy. Can you imagine finding out about little people when you were his age? It would have seemed like the best magic in the world!
I love you jewel-hiding idea! haha! It would work!
I'm a solitary person by nature, but I cannot imagine what it would
be like to worry that you might be the last of your kind, and have no one to
see every day but your spouse and child. And poor Homily doesn't even read!
It must have startled the boy when Arrietty mentioned the “Hon.
John Studdingtons,” since John Studdington happened to be the boy’s
grand uncle. It seems the Borrower “Hon. John Studdingtons” kept
a residence behind the grand uncle’s portrait, therefore the name “Hon.
haha! Yeah--they were above the Overmantles!
Interesting that they all got their names from the areas of the house and stables where they lived. I wonder if they had other names before they came to “Her” house.