Pippi in the South Seas, Page 2Astrid Lindgren
"The difference between your horse and your monkey-that I
really couldn't say."
"It's quite tricky," said Pippi, "but I'll
give you a small hint. If you should see them both
together under a tree and one of them should start to climb up
the tree, then that one isn't the horse."
The fine gentleman pressed his gas pedal all the
way down to the floor and took off with a roar. He
never, never came back to the little town.
One afternoon Pippi was wandering around in her garden,
waiting for Tommy and Annika to come over. But no
Tommy came, and no Annika either, so Pippi
decided to go and see where they were. She found
them in their own garden. But they weren't alone. Their
mother, Mrs. Settergren, was also there with a very nice
old lady who had come to visit. The two ladies
were sitting under a tree, drinking coffee. Annika
and Tommy were having fruit juice, but when they saw
Pippi they got up and ran to meet her.
"Aunt Laura came," Tommy explained.
"That's why we couldn't come over to you."
"She looks so nice," said Pippi, peeking at
her through the leaves of the hedge. "I must talk to her.
I'm so fond of nice old ladies."
Annika looked a little worried. "It ... it ...
maybe it's best if you don't talk very much," she
said. She remembered that once when Pippi had been
to a coffee party she had talked so much that
Annika's mother had been very annoyed with her. And
Annika was too fond of Pippi to want anyone
to be annoyed with her.
Pippi's feelings were hurt. "Why shouldn't I
talk to her?" she asked. "When people come to visit, you
should be nice and friendly to them. If I sit there and
don't say a word, she might think I have something
"But are you sure you know how to talk to old
ladies?" objected Annika.
"They need to be cheered up," said Pippi with
emphasis. "And that's what I'm going to do now."
She walked across the lawn to where the two ladies were
sitting. First she curtsied to Mrs. Settergren.
Then she looked at the old lady and clapped her
"Just look at Aunt Laura!" she exclaimed.
"More beautiful than ever!" She turned to Tommy's
and Annika's mother. "Please may I have a little
fruit juice so my throat won't be so dry when
we start talking?" she asked.
Mrs. Settergren poured a glass of juice and
said as she handed it to Pippi, "Children should be seen and not
"Well," said Pippi, looking pleased, "it's
people are happy just to look at me! I must see how
it feels to be used just for decoration." She sat
on the grass and stared straight in front of her with
a fixed smile, as if she were having her picture
Mrs. Settergren paid no further attention
to Pippi but went on talking to the old lady. After
a while she asked with concern, "How are you
feeling these days, Aunt Laura?"
"Awful," replied Aunt Laura, "just awful.
I'm so nervous and worried about everything."
Pippi jumped up. "Exactly like my grandmother!"
she exclaimed. "She got nervous and excited about
the least little thing. If she was walking in the street and a
brick happened to fall on her head she'd start
to scream and make such a fuss you'd think something
terrible had happened.
"And once she was at a ball with my father and they were
together. My father is quite strong, and quick as a wink he
swung my grandmother around so hard that she flew
straight across the ballroom and landed with a crash right in
the middle of the bass fiddle. There she was,
screaming and carrying on like anything. My father picked
her up and held her outside the window-it was four
floors up-so that she'd cool off and not be so
fidgety. But she didn't like that a bit. She just
hollered, Let me go this minute!" My father did,
of course, and can you imagine, she wasn't pleased
about that either! My father said he'd never seen anything like
the fuss the dear old lady made over nothing at
all. It certainly is too bad when people have
trouble with their nerves," Pippi finished
sympathetically, and dunked her zwieback into her
Tommy and Annika were fidgeting uneasily in their
chairs. Aunt Laura shook her head in a
puzzled way, and Mrs. Settergren said hastily,
"We all hope you'll be feeling better soon,
"Oh yes, I'm sure she will," Pippi said
reassuringly. "My grandmother did. She was soon
feeling very well."
Aunt Laura wanted to know what cured her.
"Tranquilizers," Pippi said. "That did the
trick, I can tell you. She was soon as cool as
a cucumber, and she'd sit peacefully for days at
a time just not saying a word. If bricks had started
falling on her head one after another she'd just have sat
there and enjoyed it! If that could happen to my grandmother it
could happen to
So I'm sure you'll be all well again soon,
Tommy crept over to Aunt Laura and whispered
in her ear, "Don't mind anything Pippi says,
Aunt Laura. She's just making it up.
She doesn't even have a grandmother."
Aunt Laura nodded understandingly. But Pippi had
sharp ears, and she heard what Tommy whispered.
"Tommy's quite right," she said. "I
have a grandmother. She doesn't exist. Since that's the
case, why does she have to be so terribly nervous?"
Aunt Laura looked at Pippi for a moment with a
dazed expression, and then began to talk to Mrs.
Settergren again. Pippi sat down to listen with the
same fixed smile as before.
After a few minutes Aunt Laura said, "Do you
know, something very strange happened yesterday-was
"But it couldn't be nearly as strange as what I
saw the day
yesterday," Pippi said reassuringly. "I was
riding in a train, and we were going along full speed
when suddenly a cow came flying through the open window
with a big suitcase hanging on her tail. She
sat down in the seat across from me and began to look through
the timetable to see what time we'd get to Falkoping.
I was eating a sandwich-I had loads of sandwiches,
some sausage and some smoked herring-and I thought she
might be hungry, so I offered her one.
She took a
smoked herring one and swallowed it practically
Pippi fell silent.
That was really
strange," said Aunt Laura politely.
"Yes, you'd go a long way before you'd find another
cow as strange as that one," Pippi agreed. "Just
gine, she took a smoked herring sandwich when there
were still lots of sausage ones left!"
Mrs. Settergren interrupted to ask Aunt
Laura if she'd like some more coffee. She filled
Aunt Laura's cup and her own, and poured more
fruit juice for the children. "You were going to tell about the
strange thing that happened yesterday," she reminded the
"Oh, yes," said Aunt Laura, beginning to look
"Speaking of strange things happening," Pippi
broke in hastily, "you'll enjoy hearing about
Agaton and Teodor. Once when my father's ship
came into Singapore we needed a new able-bodied
seaman, and we took on Agaton. He was seven
feet tall and so thin that his bones rattled like
a rattlesnake's tail when he moved. He had
pitch-black hair that came down to his waist, and
only one tooth. That tooth was all the bigger,
though-it grew all the way down to his chin.
"My father thought Agaton was uglier than anyone should
be, and at first he didn't want him on board.
Only then he decided that Agaton might be
useful to have around to scare any fierce wild horses
into stampeding. Well, then we got to Hong Kong, and
we needed another able-bodied seaman, so we got
Teodor. They were as much alike as a pair of
'That certainly was a strange coincidence!"
exclaimed Aunt Laura.
"Strange?" said Pippi. "What was so strange
"That they looked so much alike," Aunt Laura
replied. "That was very strange indeed."
"No," said Pippi, "not really. Because they
twins. Both of them. Even from birth." She looked
a bit reproachful. "I don't quite understand what you
mean, dear Aunt Laura. Is it anything
to worry about when twins happen to look alike? They
can't help it, you know. Nobody would have
to look like Agaton-or like Teodor either, for that
"Then why do you speak of strange coincidences?"
Aunt Laura asked, looking bewildered.
Mrs. Settergren tried to divert Aunt
Laura's attention. "You were going to tell us about the
strange thing that happened to you yesterday."
Aunt Laura got up to leave. That will have to wait
till another time," she said. "On second thought,
perhaps it wasn't so very strange after all." She said
good-by to Tommy and Annika. Then she patted
Pippi's red head. "Good-by, my little friend," she
said. "You're quite right, I'm beginning to feel better
already. I don't feel nervous at all any more."
"Oh, I'm so glad." said Pippi, and gave the
old lady a big hug. "You know, Aunt
Laura, my father was very pleased about getting Teodor
in Hong Kong. Because then he said he could stampede
twice as many wild horses to was
One morning Tommy and Annika came skipping
into Pippi's kitchen as usual, shouting good
morning. But there was no answer. Pippi was sitting
in the middle of the kitchen table with Mr. Nilsson,
the little monkey, in her arms and a happy smile on
"Good morning," said Tommy and Annika again.
"Just think," said Pippi dreamily, "just think that I
have discovered it-I and no one else!"
"What have you discovered?" Tommy and Annika
wondered. They weren't in the least bit surprised that
Pippi had discovered something because she was always doing that,
but they did want to know what it was.
"What did you discover, anyway, Pippi?"
"A new word," said Pippi and looked at Tommy
and Annika as if she had just this minute noticed
them. "A brand-new word."
"What kind of word?" said Tommy.
"A wonderful word," said Pippi. "One of the best
I've ever heard."
"Say it then," said Annika.
"Spink," said Pippi triumphantly.
"Spink," repeated Tommy. "What does that
"If I only knew!" said Pippi. "The only
thing I know is that it doesn't mean vacuum
Tommy and Annika thought for a while. Finally
Annika said, "But if you don't know what it
means, then it can't be of any use."
"That's what bothers me," said Pippi.
"Who really decided in the beginning what all the words
should mean?" Tommy wondered.
"Probably a bunch of old professors," said
Pippi. "People certainly are peculiar I Just think
of the words they make up-'tub" and "stopper" and
"string" and words like that. Where they got them from,
nobody knows. But a wonderful word like "spink,"
they don't bother to invent. How lucky that I hit
on it! And you just bet I'll find out what it means,
She fell deep in thought.
"Spink, I wonder if it might be the top part of a
blue flagpole," she said doubtfully.
"Flagpoles aren't blue," said Annika.
"You're right. Well, then, I really don't know.
... Or do you think it might be the sound you hear when
you walk in the mud and it gets between your toes?
Let's hear how it sounds. As Annika walked in
the mud you could hear the most wonderful spink." She
shook her head. "No, that's no good. You could hear
the most wonderful
that's what it should be instead."
Pippi scratched her head. "This is getting more and
more mysterious. But whatever it is, I'm going to find
out. Maybe it can be bought in the stores. Come on,
let's go and ask!"
Tommy and Annika had no objection. Pippi
went off to hunt for her purse, which was full of gold
pieces. "Spink," she said. "It sounds as if it
might be expensive. I'd better take a gold
piece along." And she did. As usual Mr.
Nilsson jumped up on her shoulder.
Then Pippi lifted the horse down from the veranda.
"We're in a hurry," she said to Tommy and
Annika. "We'll have to ride. Because otherwise there
might not be any spink left when we get there. It
wouldn't surprise me if the mayor had already bought
the last of it."
When the horse came galloping through the streets of the
little town with Pippi and Tommy and Annika on his
back, the children heard the clatter of
his hoofs on the cobblestones and came happily
running because they all liked Pippi so much.
"Pippi, where are you going?" they cried.
"I'm going to buy spink," said Pippi and
brought the horse to a halt for a moment.
The children looked puzzled.
"Is it something good?" a little boy asked.
"You bet," said Pippi and licked her lips.
"It's wonderful. At least it sounds as if it
In front of a candy shop she jumped off the horse,
lifted Tommy and Annika down, and in they went.
"I would like to
buy a bag of spink," said Pippi.
"But I want it nice and crunchy."
"Spink," said the pretty lady behind the counter,
trying to think. "I don't believe we have that."
"You must have it," said Pippi. "All well-stocked
shops carry it."
"Yes, but we've just run out of it," said the lady,
who had never even heard of spink but didn't want
to admit that her shop wasn't as well-stocked as
"Oh, but then you did have it yesterday!" cried
Pippi eagerly. "Please, please tell me how
it looked. I've never seen spink in all my
life. Was it red striped?"
Then the nice lady blushed prettily and said,
"No, I really don't know what it is. In any
case, we don't have it here."
Very disappointed, Pippi walked toward the door.
"Then I have to keep on looking," she said. "I
can't go back home without spink."
The next store was a hardware store. A
salesman bowed politely to the children.
"I would like to buy a spink," said Pippi. "But I
want it to be of the best kind, the one that is used for
The salesman looked sly as a fox. "Let's
see," he said and scratched himself behind the ear.
"Let's see." He took out a small rake.
"Is this all right?" he said as he handed it
Pippi looked indignantly at him. "That's what
the professors would call a rake," she said. "But
it happens to be a spink I wanted. Don't try
to fool an innocent little child."
Then the salesman laughed and said, "Unfortunately
we don't have the thing you want. Ask in the store
around the corner that carries notions."
"Notions," Pippi muttered to Tommy and
Annika when they came out on the street. "I just
know they won't have it there." Suddenly she brightened.
"Perhaps, after all, it's a sickness," she said.
"Let's go and ask the doctor."
Annika knew where the doctor lived because she had
gone there to be vaccinated.
Pippi rang the bell. A nurse opened the
"I would like to see the doctor," said Pippi.
"It's a very serious case. A terribly dangerous
"This way, please," said the nurse.
The doctor was sitting at his desk when the children came
in. Pippi went straight to him, closed her
eyes, and stuck her tongue out.
"What is the matter with you?" said the doctor.
Pippi opened her clear blue eyes and pulled in
her tongue. "I'm afraid I've got spink,"
she said, "because I itch all over. And when I
sleep my eyes close. Sometimes I have the
hiccups and on Sunday I didn't feel very well
after having eaten a dish of shoe polish and milk.
My appetite is quite hearty, but sometimes I get
the food down my windpipe and then nothing good comes of
it. It must be the spink which bothers me. Tell me,
is it contagious?"
The doctor looked at Pippi's rosy face and
said, "I think you're healthier than most. I'm
sure you're not suffering from spink."
Pippi grabbed him eagerly by the arm. "But there is
a disease by that name, isn't there?"
"No," said the doctor, "there isn't. But even if
there were, I don't think it would have any effect on
Pippi looked sad. She made a deep curtsy
to the doctor as she said good-by, and so did
Annika. Tommy bowed. And then they went out to the
horse, who was waiting at the doctor's fence.
Not far from the doctor's house was a high
three-story house with a window open on the upper
floor. Pippi pointed toward the open window and
said, "It wouldn't surprise me if the spink is in
there. I'll dash up and see." Quickly she climbed
up the water spout. When she reached the level of the
window she threw herself heedlessly into the air and grabbed
hold of the window sill. She hoisted herself up by the
arms and stuck her head in.
In the room two ladies were sitting chatting.
Imagine their astonishment when all of a sudden a red
head popped over the window sill and a voice said,
"Is there by any chance a spink here?"
The two ladies cried out in terror. "Good
heavens, what are you saying, child? Has someone
That is exactly what I would like to know," said
"Maybe he's under the bed!" screamed one of the
ladies. "Does he bite?"
"I think so," said Pippi. "He's supposed to have
The two ladies clung to each other. Pippi
looked around curiously, but finally she said with a sigh,
the South Seas
"No, there isn't as much as a spink's whisker around
here. Excuse me for disturbing you. I just thought I
would ask, since I happened to be passing by."
She slid down the water spout and said sadly
to Tommy and Annika, There isn't any spink in
this town. Let's ride back home."
And that's what they did. When they jumped down from the
horse outside the veranda, Tommy came close
to stepping on a little beetle which was crawling on the
"Be careful not to step on the beetle!" Pippi
All three bent down to look at it. It was such a