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Pippi Longstocking, Page 2

Astrid Lindgren

They went on. Suddenly Pippi gave a terrific yell. "Well, I never saw the like," she cried and picked up from the grass a rusty old tin can. "What a find! Whac a find! Cans-that's something you can never have too many of."

  Tommy looked at the can doubtfully. "What can you use it for?"

  "Oh, you can use it in all sorts of ways," said Pippi. "One way is to put cookies in it. Then it becomes a delightful Jar with Cookies. Another way is not to put cookies in it. Then it becomes a Jar without Cookies. That certainly isn't quite so delightful, but still that's good too."

  She examined the can, which was indeed rusty and had a hole in the bottom.


  "It looks almost as if this were a Jar without Cookies," she said thoughtfully. "But you can put it over your head and pretend that it is midnight."

  And that is just what she did. With the can on her head she wandered around the block like a little metal tower and never stopped until she stumbled over a low wire fence and fell flat on her stomach. There was a big crash when the tin can hit the ground.

  "Now, see that!" said Pippi and took off the can. "If I hadn't had this thing on me, I'd have fallen flat on my face and hurt myself terribly."

  "Yes," said Annika, "but if you had not had the can on your head, then you wouldn't have tripped on the wire fence in the first place."

  Before she had finished speaking there was another triumphant cry from Pippi, who was holding up an empty spool of thread.

  "This seems to be my lucky day," she said. "Such a sweet, sweet little spool to blow soap bubbles with or to hang around my neck for a necklace. I'll go home and make one this very minute."

  However, just at that moment the gate of one of the cottages nearby opened and a boy came rushing out. He looked scared, and that was no wonder, because head over heels after him came five other boys. They soon caught him and pushed him against the fence, and all five began to punch and hit him. He cried and held his arms in front of his face to protect himself.

  Pippi Is a Thing-finder and Gets into a Fight 17

  "Give it to him! Give it to him!" cried the oldest and strongest of the boys, "so that he will never dare to show himself on this street again."

  "Oh," said Annika, "it's Willie they're hurting. Oh, how can they be so mean?"

  "It's that awful Bengt. He's always in a fight," said Tommy. "And five against one-what cowards!"

  Pippi went up to the boys and tapped Bengt on the back with her forefinger. "Hello, there," she said. "What's the idea? Are you trying to make hash out of little Willie with all five of you jumping on him at



  Bengt turned around and saw a little girl he had never seen before: a wild-looking little stranger who dared to touch him. For a while he stood and gaped at her in astonishment; then a broad grin spread over his face. "Boys," he said, "boys, let Willie alone and take a look at this girl. What a babe!"

  He slapped his knees and laughed, and in an instant they had all flocked around Pippi, all except Willie, who wiped away his tears and walked cautiously over to stand beside Tommy.

  "Have you ever seen hair like hers? Red as fire! And such shoes," Bengt continued. "Can't I borrow one? I'd like to go out rowing and I haven't any boat." He took hold of one of Pippi's braids but dropped it instantly and cried, "Ouch, I burned myself."

  Then all five boys joined hands around Pippi, jump-



  "Redhead! Red-

  Pippi Longstocking down and screaming,

  ing up head!"

  Pippi stood in the middle of the ring and smiled in the friendliest way. Bengt had hoped she would get mad and begin to cry. At least she ought to have looked scared. When nothing happened he gave her a push.

  "I don't think you have a very nice way with ladies," said Pippi. And she lifted him in her strong arms-high in the air-and carried him to a birch tree and hung him over a branch. Then she took the next boy and hung him over another branch. The next one she set on a gatepost outside a cottage, and the next she threw right over a fence so that he landed in a flower bed. The last of the fighters she put in a tiny toy cart that stood by the road. Then Pippi, Tommy, Annika, and Willie stood and looked at the boys for a while. The boys were absolutely speechless with fright.

  And Pippi said, "You are cowards. Five of you attack one boy. That's cowardly. Then you begin to push a helpless little girl around. Oh, how mean!

  "Come now, we'll go home," she said to Tommy and Annika. And to Willie, "If they try to hurt you again, you come and tell me." And to Bengt, who sat up in the tree and didn't dare to stir, she said, "Is there anything else you have to say about my hair or my shoes? If so, you'd better say it now before I go home."

  But Bengt had nothing more to say about Pippi's shoes, or about her hair either. So Pippi took her can


  in one hand and her spool in the other and went away, followed by Tommy and Annika.

  When they were back home in Pippi's garden Pippi said, "Dear me, how awful! Here I found two beautiful things and you didn't get anything. You must hunt a little more. Tommy, why don't you look in that old hollow tree? Old trees are usually about the best places of all for Thing-finders."

  Tommy said that he didn't believe he and Annika would ever find anything, but to please Pippi he put his hand slowly down into the hollow tree trunk.

  "Goodness!" he cried, utterly amazed, and pulled out his hand. In it he held a little notebook with a leather cover. In a special loop there was a little silver pencil.

  "Well, that's queer," said Tommy.

  "Now, see that!" said Pippi. "There's nothing so nice as being a Thing-finder. It's a wonder there aren't more people that take it up. They'll be tailors and shoemakers and chimney sweeps, and such like-but Thing-finders, no indeed, that isn't good enough for them!"

  And then she said to Annika, "Why don't you feel in that old tree stump? One practically always finds things in old tree stumps."

  Annika stuck her hand down in the stump and almost immediately got hold of a red coral necklace. She and Tommy stood open-mouthed for a long time, they were so astonished. They thought that hereafter they would be Thing-finders every single day.

  Pippi Is a Thing-finder and Gets into a Fight 21

  Pippi had been up half the night before, playing ball, and now she suddenly felt sleepy. "I think I'll have to go and take a nap," she said. "Can't you come with me and tuck me in?"

  When Pippi was sitting on the edge of the bed, taking off her shoes, she looked at them thoughtfully and said, "He was going out rowing, he said, that old Bengt." She snorted disdainfully. "I'll teach him to row, indeed I will. Another time."

  "Say, Pippi," said Tommy respectfully, "why do you wear such big shoes?"

  "So I can wiggle my toes, of course," she answered.

  Then she crept into bed. She always slept with her feet on the pillow and her head way down under the quilt. "That's the way they sleep in Guatemala," she announced. "And it's the only real way to sleep. See, like this, I can wiggle my toes when I'm sleeping too.

  "Can you go to sleep without a lullaby?" she went on. "I always have to sing to myself for a while; otherwise I can't sleep a wink."

  Tommy and Annika heard a humming sound under the quilt; it was Pippi singing herself to sleep. Quietly and cautiously they tiptoed out so that they would not disturb her. In the doorway they turned to take a last look toward the bed. They could see nothing of Pippi except her feet resting on the pillow. There she lay, wiggling her toes emphatically.

  Tommy and Annika ran home. Annika held her coral necklace tightly in her hand.

  22Pippi Longstocking

  "That certainly was queer," she said. "Tommy, you don't suppose-do you suppose that Pippi had put these things in place beforehand?"

  "You never can tell," said Tommy. "You just never can tell about anything when it comes to Pippi."


  Pippi Plays Tag with Some Policemen


  t soon bec
ame known throughout the little town that a nine-year-old girl was living all by herself in Villa Villekulla, and all the ladies and gentlemen in the town thought this would never do. All children must have someone to advise them, and all children must go to school to learn the multiplication tables. So the ladies and gentlemen decided that the little girl in Villa Villekulla must immediately be placed in a children's home.

  One lovely afternoon Pippi had invited Tommy and Annika over for afternoon coffee and pepparkakor. She had spread the party out on the front steps. It was so sunny and beautiful there, and the air was filled with the fragrance of the flowers in Pippi's garden. Mr. Nilsson climbed around on the porch railing, and every now and then the horse stuck out his head so that he'd be invited to have a cooky.


  "Oh, isn't it glorious to be alive?" said Pippi, stretching out her legs as far as she could reach.

  Just at that moment two police officers in full uniform came in through the gate.

  "Hurray," said Pippi, "this must be my lucky day too! Policemen are the very best things I know. Next to rhubarb pudding." And with her face beaming she went to meet them.

  "Is this the girl who has moved into Villa Villekulla?" asked one of the policemen.

  "Quite the contrary," said Pippi. "This is a tiny little auntie who lives on the third floor at the other end of the town."

  She said that only because she wanted to have a little fun with the policemen, but they didn't think it was funny at all.

  They said she shouldn't be such a smarty. And then they went on to tell her that some nice people in the town were arranging for her to get into a children's home.

  "I already have a place in a children's home," said Pippi.

  "What?" asked one of the policemen. "Has it been arranged already then? What children's home?"

  "This one," said Pippi haughtily. "I am a child and this is my home; therefore it is a children's home, and I have room enough here, plenty of room."

  "Dear child," said the policeman, smiling, "you don't

  Pippi Plays Tag with Some Policemen25understand. You must get into a real children's homeand have someone look after you."

  "Is one allowed to bring horses to your children's home?" asked Pippi.

  "No, of course not," said the policeman.

  "That's what I thought," said Pippi sadly, "Well, what about monkeys?"

  "Of course not. You ought to realize that."

  "Well then," said Pippi, "you'll have to get kids for your children's home somewhere else. I certainly don't intend to move there."

  "But don't you understand that you must go to school?"


  "To learn things, of course."

  "What sort of things?" asked Pippi.

  "All sorts," said the policeman. "Lots of useful things-the multiplication tables, for instance."

  "I have got along fine without any pluttifikation tables for nine years," said Pippi, "and I guess I'll get along without it from now on, too."

  "Yes, but just think how embarrassing it will be for you to be so ignorant. Imagine when you grow up and somebody asks you what the capital of Portugal is, and you can't answer!"

  "Oh, I can answer all right," said Pippi. "I'll answer like this: 'If you are so bound and determined to find out what the capital of Portugal is, then, for goodness' sakes, write directly to Portugal and ask/ "


  "Yes, but don't you think that you would be sorry not to know it yourself?"

  "Oh, probably," said Pippi. "No doubt I should lie awake nights and wonder and wonder, 'What in the world is the capital of Portugal?' But one can't be having fun all the time," she continued, bending over and standing on her hands for a change. "For that matter, I've been in Lisbon with my papa," she added, still standing upside down, for she could talk that way too.

  But then one of the policemen said that Pippi certainly didn't need to think she could do just as she pleased. She must come to the children's home, and immediately. He went up to her and took hold of her arm, but Pippi freed herself quickly, touched him lightly, and said, "Tag!" Before he could wink an eye she had climbed up on the porch railing and from there onto the balcony above the porch. The policemen couldn't quite see themselves getting up the same way, and so they rushed into the house and up the stairs, but by the time they had reached the balcony Pippi was halfway up the roof. She climbed up the shingles almost as if she were a little monkey herself. In a moment she was up on the ridgepole and from there jumped easily to the chimney. Down on the balcony stood the two policemen, scratching their heads, and on the lawn stood Tommy and Annika, staring at Pippi.

  "Isn't it fun to play tag?" cried Pippi. "And weren't

  Pippi Plays Tag with Some Policemen27you nice to come over. It certainly is my lucky daytoday too."

  When the policemen had stood there a while wondering what to do, they went and got a ladder, leaned it against one of the gables of the house and then climbed up, first one policeman and then the other, to get Pippi down. They looked a little scared when they climbed out on the ridgepole and, carefully balancing themselves, went step by step, toward Pippi.

  "Don't be scared," cried Pippi. "There's nothing to be afraid of. It's just fun."

  When the policemen were a few steps away from Pippi, down she jumped from the chimney and, screeching and laughing, ran along the ridgepole to the opposite gable. A few feet from the house stood a tree.

  "Now I'm going to dive," she cried and jumped right down into the green crown of the tree, caught fast hold of a branch, swung back and forth a while, and then let herself fall to the ground. Quick as a wink she dashed around to the other side of the house and took away the ladder.

  The policemen had looked a little foolish when Pippi jumped, but they looked even more so when they had balanced themselves backward along the ridgepole and were about to climb down the ladder. At first they were very angry at Pippi, who stood on the ground looking up at them, and they told her in no uncertain terms to get the ladder and be quick about


  it, or she would soon get something she wasn't looking for.

  "Why are you so cross at me?" asked Pippi reproachfully. "We're just playing tag, aren't we?"

  The policemen thought a while, and at last one of them said, "Oh, come on, won't you be a good girl and put the ladder back so that we can get down?"

  "Of course I will," said Pippi and put the ladder back instantly. "And when you get down we can all drink coffee and have a happy time."

  But the policemen were certainly tricky, because the minute they were down on the ground again they pounced on Pippi and cried, "Now you'll get it, you little brat!"

  "Oh, no, I'm sorry. I haven't time to play any longer," said Pippi. "But it was fun."

  Then she took hold of the policemen by their belts and carried them down the garden path, out through the gate, and onto the street. There she set them down, and it was quite some time before they were ready to get up again.

  "Wait a minute," she cried and ran into the kitchen and came back with two cooky hearts. "Would you like a taste?" she asked. "It doesn't matter that they are a little burned, does it?"

  Then she went back to Tommy and Annika, who stood there wide-eyed and just couldn't get over what they had seen. And the policemen hurried back to the town and told all the ladies and gentlemen that

  Pippi Plays Tag with Some Policemen29Pippi wasn't quite fit for an orphanage. (They didn'ttell that they had been up on the roof.) And theladies and gentlemen decided that it would be bestafter all to let Pippi remain in Villa Villekulla, andif she wanted to go to school she could make the arrangements herself.

  But Pippi and Tommy and Annika had a very pleasant afternoon. They went back to their interrupted coffee party. Pippi stuffed herself with fourteen cookies and then she said, "They weren't what I mean by real policemen. No sirree! Alogether too much talk about children's homes and pluttifikation and Lisbon."

  Afterward she lifted the horse down on the ground
and they rode on him, all three. At first Annika was afraid and didn't want to, but when she saw what fun Tommy and Pippi were having, she let Pippi lift her up on the horse's back. The horse trotted round and round in the garden, and Tommy sang, "Here come the Swedes with a clang and a bang."

  When Tommy and Annika had gone to bed that night Tommy said, "Annika, don't you think it's good that Pippi moved here?"

  "Oh, yes," said Annika.

  "I don't even remember what we used to play before she came, do you?"

  "Oh, sure, we played croquet and things like that," said Annika. "But it's lots more fun with Pippi around, I think. And with horses and things."



  Goes to



  f course Tommy and Annika went to school. Each morning at eight o'clock they trotted off, hand in hand, swinging their schoolbags.

  At that time Pippi was usually grooming her horse or dressing Mr. Nilsson in his little suit. Or else she was taking her morning exercises, which meant turning forty-three somersaults in a row. Then she would sit down on the kitchen table and, utterly happy, drink a large cup of coffee and eat a piece of bread and cheese.

  Tommy and Annika always looked longingly toward Villa Villekulla as they started off to school. They would much rather have gone to play with Pippi. If only Pippi had been going to school too; that would have been something else again.

  "Just think what fun we could have on the way home from school," said Tommy.

  "Yes, and on the way to school too," said Annika.


  The more they thought about it the worse they felt to think that Pippi did not go to school, and at last they determined to try to persuade her to begin.

  "You can't imagine what a nice teacher we have," said Tommy artfully to Pippi one afternoon when he and Annika had come for a visit at Villa Villekulla after they had finished their homework.

  "If you only knew what fun it is in school!" Annika added. "I'd die if I couldn't go to school."

  Pippi sat on a hassock, bathing her feet in a tub. She said nothing but just wiggled her toes for a while so that the water splashed around everywhere.

  "You don't have to stay so very long," continued Tommy, "just until two o'clock."

  "Yes, and besides, we get Christmas vacation and Easter vacation and summer vacation," said Annika.

  Pippi bit her big toe thoughtfully but still said nothing. Suddenly, as if she had made some decision, she poured all the water out on the kitchen floor, so that Mr. Nilsson, who sat near her playing with a mirror, got his pants absolutely soaked.

  "It's not fair!" said Pippi sternly without paying any attention to Mr. Nilsson's puzzled air about his wet pants. "It is absolutely unfair! I don't intend to stand it!"

  "What's the matter now?" asked Tommy.

  "In four months it will be Christmas, and then you'll have Christmas vacation. But I, what'll I get?" Pippi's voice sounded sad. "No Christmas vacation, not even the tiniest bit of a Christmas vacation," she com-


  plained. "Something will have to be done about that. Tomorrow morning I'll begin school."

  Tommy and Annika clapped their hands with delight. "Hurrah! Well wait for you outside our gate at eight o'clock."