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The hippo heard a small nearby rustling, and stood still for an assessing moment before going back to previous business. There had been at least two or three people that size in the house as long as the hippo had been, and most of the time their doings were of little concern.


Arrietty slipped away, marvelling. You could talk to dogs, she remembered her father saying that. But could a Borrower, she wondered, talk to hippos?

She hurried back to the new home under the windowseat in the library, wanting to share what she had seen with her parents. She was excited enough to be less than usually polite, and interrupted Pod's concentration as he looked over the smaller piled books. (Selecting a kitchen door for Homily, he had mentioned.)

"I saw a hippo," Arrietty said. Then, seeing Homily's puzzled expression and remembering that her mother hadn't had the benefit of Arrietty's own education from books, Arrietty said more gropingly, "Grey like a donkey, and a head something like, but round like a mole. And," she added intending to be reassuring, "not much bigger than a mouse."

"The hippo," Peagreen said as he came in from the passage under the floor.

"I know it's called that," Arrietty told him, a trifle irritated. "I was explaining to Mother."

"None of you need to worry about the hippo," Peagreen said, as casually calm as he had sounded about other aspects of this new home. "Hardly comes downstairs except to the kitchen. There, though, you might meet him some night. He likes a bit of fried potato."

"Are you sure about this being a he?" Pod asked Peagreen.

"Well, not precisely," Peagreen answered. "I didn't think that mattered much, as there's only the one of them here."

Pod made a thoughtful noise. "A he hippo," he said, consideringly, "might go roaming. But a she hippo, stands to reason, might well stay where she's familiar with to make a nest. And this is spring..." He trailed off, perhaps not wanting to alarm Homily.

Homilly put in unhappily, "A nest, like fieldmice I should think, then babies all pink and squeaking. No, Arrietty," she said, with a mother's trick of knowing where the child's mind is wandering, "no more than I let you have a baby mouse would I let you have a baby hippo."


Elsewhere in the house and in familiar territory the hippo, untroubled, went about a typical day.