"Any reappearance of the irrepressible Pippi Longstocking is cause for celebration. This installment is no exception." -The New York Times
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Pippi Still Lives in Villa Villekulla
The tiny little town looked very neat and friendly with its cobbled streets and its low houses surrounded by their flower beds. Everyone who went there was sure to think it must be a very calm and restful place to live. But there weren’t many interesting sights worth seeing in the town. Apart from two: a local museum and an old burial mound. That was all. Well, there was one more thing. The people of the little town had very helpfully put up signs for anyone who wanted to see these special things. to the local history museum it said in large letters on one sign, with an arrow underneath. to the burial mound it said on another sign.
There was one more sign. And it said:
That sign had only just been put up. You see, quite a lot of people who had come to visit recently had asked the way to Villa Villekulla—-much more often, in fact, than the way to the local history museum or the burial mound.
One beautiful summer’s day a man came driving into town. He lived in a far bigger town and that is why he had the idea that he was better and more important than the people in the tiny little town. And as if that wasn’t enough, he also owned a very smart car and looked like a thoroughly splendid gentleman with his shiny shoes and a thick gold ring on his finger. So perhaps it wasn’t surprising that he believed he was somebody terribly posh and distinguished.
He sounded his horn loudly as he drove through the streets of the little town, so that people would notice him coming.
When that fine gent noticed the signs his mouth widened into a broad grin.
“To the Local History Museum. Must be my lucky day,” he said to himself. “I’ll be sure to give that a miss. To the Burial Mound,” he read on another sign. “It gets better and better, I see.”
“But what kind of nonsense is that?” he said, when he saw the third sign. “To Villa Villekulla . . . what a name!”
He considered it for a while. A house could hardly be the kind of sight worth seeing like a local history museum or a grave mound. The sign must have been put there for a different reason, he thought. Finally he came up with a good explanation. Of course, the house was for sale. The sign had been put up for people who wanted to buy the house, to show them the way. The fine gent had been thinking for some time that he would like to find a house in some little town or other where there wasn’t as much hustle and bustle as in the big town. He wouldn’t live here all the time, naturally, but he would come and stay for a rest now and then. And in a small town it would be much more obvious that he was a particularly fine and distinguished person. He decided to drive on and take a look at Villa Villekulla right away.
All he had to do was follow the direction of the arrow. He found himself driving all the way out to the edge of the little town before he found what he was looking for. And there—-on a very dilapidated garden gate—-someone had written, in red pen:
Inside the gate was a wildly overgrown garden with old mosscovered trees, grass that needed cutting, and masses of flowers left to grow exactly as they pleased. Deep inside the garden stood a house, and oh my goodness, what a house it was! It looked as if it would collapse at any minute. The fine gent stared at the house and suddenly gave a gasp. There was a horse on the veranda. And the fine gent wasn’t used to seeing horses on verandas. That was why he gasped.
Sitting on the veranda steps in the brilliant sunshine were three children. The one in the middle was a girl with a face covered in freckles and two red plaits sticking straight out. On one side of her sat a very pretty girl with fair curly hair and a bluechecked dress, and on the other a neatly combed boy. And on the redhaired girl’s shoulder sat a monkey.
The fine gent thought for a while. He’d come the wrong way, hadn’t he? Surely no one would think of selling such a dilapidated old house?
“Hey kids,” he called. “Is this tumbledown old wreck really Villa Villekulla?”
The girl in the middle, the one with the red hair, stood up and started walking down the path. The other two trailed after her.
“Have you lost your tongue?” said the fine gent, before the redhaired girl had even reached the gate. “Is this rundown place really Villa Villekulla?”
“Let me see,” said the redhaired girl, and she frowned deeply as she thought. “Local History Museum—-no! Burial Mound—-no! I’ve got it!” she shouted. “It’s Villa Villekulla.”
“That’s no way to answer,” said the fine gent, and got out of his car. He decided to have a closer look at the house anyway.
“We could always pull it down of course, and build a new place,” he muttered to himself.
“Oh, yes, let’s start immediately!” shouted the redhaired girl, and quickly ripped a couple of planks from one wall.
The fine gent didn’t listen to her. He wasn’t the slightest bit interested in little children and at the moment he had something else on his mind. The garden in its overgrown state actually looked rather inviting in the sunshine. If you built a new house and cut the grass and swept the paths and planted proper flowers, even a very grand gentleman could live there. The fine gent made up his mind to buy Villa Villekulla.
He looked around to see if there were other things he could improve. Those mossy old trees would have to go, of course. He glared disapprovingly at a thick, knobbly old oak with its branches growing low over the roof of Villa Villekulla.
“I’ll have that chopped down,” he said, firmly.
The pretty little girl in the bluechecked dress gave a cry.
“Oh, Pippi, did you hear that?” she said, sounding distressed.
The redhaired girl didn’t seem to care and carried on practicing her hopskipjumping up and down the garden path.
“Like I said, I’ll be getting that dreadful old oak chopped down,” the fine gent said to himself. The little girl in the bluechecked dress clasped her hands pleadingly. “Oh, no, don’t do that,” she said. “It’s . . . it’s such a good climbing tree. It’s hollow, and you can get inside it.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said the fine gent. “You don’t think I climb trees, surely?”
Now the neatly combed boy came up to him. He looked worried.
“But lemonade grows inside the tree,” he said, beseechingly. “And chocolate too. On Thursdays.”
“Listen here, children, I think you’ve been sitting too long in the sunshine,” said the fine gent. “It seems to have gone to your head. But that’s got nothing to do with me. I’m thinking of buying this place. Can you tell me where I can find the owner?”
The little girl in the bluechecked dress started crying, and the neatly combed boy ran over to the redhaired girl, who was still practicing her hopskipjumping. “Pippi,” he said. “Can’t you hear what he’s saying? Why aren’t you doing anything?”
“Me, not doing anything?” replied the redhaired girl. “Here I am, hopskipjumping till I’m blue in the face, and you come and tell me I’m not doing anything. Have a go yourself and tell me how easy it is!” But she stopped jumping and walked over to the fine gent.
“My name is Pippi Longstocking,” she said. “And this is Tommy and Annika.” She pointed at her friends. “Is there anything we can do to help? A house to demolish or a tree to chop down or anything else that needs changing? Just say the word!”
“Your names are of no interest to me,” said the fine gent. “The only thing I want to know is where I can get hold of the owner of this house. I intend to buy it.”
The redhaired girl, the girl called Pippi Long-stocking, had started her hopskipjumping again.
“The owner is a little busy at the moment,” she said. She was concentrating tremendously hard on her jumping while she was speaking. “Absolutely colossally busy,” she said, and jumped all round the fine gent. “But sit down and wait a while and I’m sure she’ll turn up.”
“She?” said the fine gent. “Is a she in charge of this wretched house? So much the better. Womenfolk don’t understand business matters. In that case let’s hope I’ll be able to get it all for peanuts.”
“We can always hope,” said Pippi Longstocking.
There didn’t appear to be anywhere to sit down, so the fine gent gingerly lowered himself onto the veranda steps. The little monkey scampered nervously backward and forwards on the veranda railing. Tommy and Annika, the two sweet and neatly combed children, stood a short distance away and looked at him warily.
“Do you live here?” asked the fine gent.
“No,” said Tommy. “We live in the house next door.”
“But we come here every day to play,” said Annika shyly.
“We’ll soon put an end to that,” said the fine gent. “I don’t want any kids running around my garden. There’s nothing worse than children.”
“I agree,” said Pippi, and stopped jumping for a moment. “All children should be shot.”
“How can you say that?” Tommy asked indignantly.
“Yes, all children really should be shot,” said Pippi. “But that wouldn’t work. Because then there would be no one to grow up into dear little old chaps. And we can’t be without them.”
The fine gent looked at Pippi’s red hair and decided to try and be funny while he was waiting. “Do you know the similarity between you and lighted match?” he asked.
“No,” said Pippi. “But I’ve always wondered.”
The fine gent tugged one of Pippi’s plaits hard.
“It’s like this, you see. Both of them are burning on top, hahaha!”
“And I thought I’d heard it all,” said Pippi. “How come I didn’t think of that?”
The fine gent looked at her and then he said: “Do you know something? I truly believe you are the ugliest kid I have ever seen.”
“Really?” said Pippi. “You’re not exactly a stunner yourself.”
The fine gent looked offended but he said nothing. Pippi was silent for a moment and looked at him with her head on one side.
“Mister,” she said. “Do you know the likeness between you and me?”
“Between you and me?” said the fine gent. “I certainly hope there isn’t any likeness at all between us two.”
“There is,” said Pippi. “We’ve both got ugly mugs. Except for me.” A faint giggle came from Tommy and Annika’s direction.
The fine gent’s face turned completely red.
“Oh, you’re impudent, are you?” he shouted. “I’ll soon beat that out of you!”
He aimed his thick arm in Pippi’s direction but she instantly dodged aside and the next second there she was, up in the branches of the hollow oak tree. The fine gent could only gawp in amazement.
“When does the beating start?” asked Pippi, settling herself comfortably on a branch.
“I have time to wait,” said the fine gent.
“That’s good,” said Pippi. “Because I’m thinking of staying up here until the middle of November.”
Tommy and Annika laughed and clapped their hands. But they shouldn’t have done that because by now the fine gent was boiling with rage, and since he couldn’t get hold of Pippi he grabbed Annika by the scruff of her neck and said: “Then I’ll give you a good smacking instead. It looks like you could do with it too.”
Annika had never been smacked in her life and she gave a heartrending scream. There was a thud as Pippi jumped down from the tree. With one bound she was face-to-face with the fine gent.
“Oh no you don’t,” she said. “Before we start fighting I think I’d better teach you a lesson.” And she did. She grabbed the fine gent around his fat waist and threw him up in the air a few times. Then she carried him high above her head to his car and dumped him in the backseat.
“I’ll think we’ll wait for another day to knock this old shack down,” she said. “You see, one day a week I knock houses down, but never on a Friday because then you’ve got the weekly cleaning to think about. That’s why I always put the vacuum round on Fridays and knock it down on Saturdays. There’s a time for everything.”
With great difficulty the fine gent crawled forward into the front seat and drove off at top speed. He was both afraid and angry, and it annoyed him that he hadn’t been able to speak to the owner of Villa Villekulla. He really did want to buy the place and chase those nasty children away.
Quite soon he came across one of the little town’s policemen. He stopped the car and said: “Can you help me get hold of the lady who owns Villa Villekulla?”
“With the greatest of pleasure,” said the policeman. He leaped into the car and said: “Drive to Villa Villekulla!”
“No, she’s not there,” said the fine gent.
“Oh yes, I’m sure she is,” said the policeman.
The fine gent felt safe now that he had a policeman with him and he drove back to Villa Villekulla just as the policeman had suggested, because he was very keen to talk to the owner of the house.
“There’s the lady who owns Villa Villekulla,” said the policeman, and pointed toward the house.
The fine gent looked where the policeman was pointing. Then he slapped his forehead and groaned. For there on the veranda steps stood the redhaired girl, that awful Pippi Longstocking, and she was holding her horse up in the air. The monkey was sitting on her shoulder.
“Come on, Tommy and Annika,” called Pippi. “Let’s have a quick ride before the next purstitcher turns up.”
“Purchaser, you mean,” said Annika.
“Is that . . . the owner of the house?” said the fine gent in a weary voice. “But . . . she’s only a little girl.”
“Yes,” said the policeman. “She’s only a little girl. The strongest girl in the world. She lives there all alone.”
The horse with the three children on its back came galloping up to the gate. Pippi looked down at the fine gent and said: “You know, it was fun before, guessing those riddles. I know another one, by the way. Can you tell me the difference between my horse and my monkey?”
The fine gent wasn’t in the mood for guessing any more riddles, but by now he had so much respect for Pippi that he didn’t dare not to answer her.
“The difference between your horse and your monkey—-no, I really don’t know.”
“Well, it is a bit tricky,” said Pippi. “But I’ll give you a little clue. If you saw both of them together under a tree and one of them started climbing up the tree, then that one isn’t the horse.”
The fine gent pressed the accelerator to the floor and drove off at full speed. He never, ever, returned to the little town again.