by Mary Norton
illustrated by Diana Stanley
Week of June 29, 2009
Pod has returned from a borrowing trip looking very strange and shaken. He managed to obtain the china cup and saucer that Homily was so anxious to have. Pod has been “seen”. Homily is horrified and can barely speak. No one has been “seen” since Uncle Hendreary. Homily exclaims that she will not emigrate like Uncle Hendreary and his family, who now live in a badger’s set. Homily is not going to live amongst the earthworms and eat berries, nuts, and possibly mice, with cold drafts and children growing up wild.
Pod told Homily that a boy saw him in the schoolroom. Homily is shocked as there hasn’t been a boy in the house for twenty years. Pod did not expect anyone to be around and so did not notice the boy in the bed in the night nursery. As Pod was trying to come down the curtain with the china cup around his arm, the boy appeared beside him and said “I’ll take the cup,” and he did, ever so gentle. When Pod was down off the curtain the boy gave him the cup.
Homily asked Pod what they were to do. She will not emigrate. She has a nice house and a clock. Pod suggested they could take the clock but then there’s Arrietty. No, they could stay put as the boy doesn’t know where they live, although Homily chimed in with “But they look. Remember Hendreary!” He and Aunt Lupy never told their daughter, Eggletina, that there was anything but was under the floor. They never told her about Mrs. Driver or Crampful, least of all about the cats. Pod says they must tell Arrietty about Eggletina and Homily declares they must tell her now.
Chapter four--finally, after setting the stage, the action begins! Pod Has Been Seen! This is a terrible dilemma for a Borrower--to be seen is possibly to be captured, or to have a cat chase you down! At first reading I was thinking it was all Homily's fault--she just had to have that cup. But Pod should share the blame too. He admits he wasn't being as careful as he should have been, never expecting anyone to be in those rooms.
This chapter really starts to let us see the characters, and how they feel. Homily obviously knows the danger and consequences of being Seen, yet she is adamant--she is not emigrating like Uncle Hendreary and his family. I think, to Homily, the devil you know (being seen) is better than the devil you don't (living Wild).
And there is that age-old parenting dilemma--when do you tell your
children about adult things? Of course, in the instance Homily and Pod have
allowed Arrietty to be informed about a life outside (as opposed to their life
under the floor) via the things she can see through the grating, but they haven't
told her of the family tragedy. What did happen to Eggletina!
The boy sounds unnaturally calm to me, and very kind. He doesn’t try to capture Pod or sound the alarm. Very cool.