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The third Borrowers book picks up where Afield left off. Of course there isn’t much left for Tom to tell Kate, so that storyline is left behind as soon as the adventure gets underway, and at the end (instead of returning to the framing narrative, or even suggesting it as in Afield) the “big people point of view” shifts to Mrs. Driver the cook and Crampfurl the gardener back at the old house where it all started. Structurally this is a little odd, but the story itself is at least as gripping, real, and satisfying as any of the others.
The Clocks have hit the limit of what they can endure living with Uncle Hendreary, Aunt Lupy, their three boy cousins and girl-cousin Eggletina. But what really gets them on the move again is the fact that suddenly Tom and his grandfather have to move out of the house, at least temporarily (since the grandfather is going into the hospital). A house with no humans = a famine for borrowers. So Pod, Homily, and Arrietty get set to move out, and with the help of Spiller they escape from the closed-up house down a drain in the laundry room floor. After traveling interminably through the drains they finally come out on the banks of a river, where Spiller–a virtuoso borrower–actually has a boat made out of a wooden knife box, which he uses to float loads of borrowings up and downstream.
He also has an old iron tea kettle for shelter along the riverbank, and this is where he leaves the Clocks while he goes on a boating-borrowing expedition. While he is gone, however, the river floods and the tea kettle floats away with the Clocks in it. They fetch up in a snag of tree branches held in place, in the middle of the river, by a submerged barbed-wire fence. It is there, while they are waiting for Spiller to come downstream and spot them, that they are spotted again by Mild Eye the gypsy, who is determined to capture them this time…
You’ll just have to read it to find out what happens next!