Pippi Longstocking. Chapter 2. Pippi Is a Thing-Finder and Gets into a Fight

Chapter 2
Annika woke up early the next morning. She jumped out of bed and ran over to Tommy. “Wake up, Tommy,” she cried, pulling him by the arm. “Wake up and let’s go and see that funny girl with the big shoes.” Tommy was wide awake in an instant. “I knew, even while I was sleeping, that something exciting was going to happen today, but I didn’t remember what it was,” he said as he yanked off his pajama jacket. Off they went to the bathroom, washed themselves and brushed their teeth much faster than usual, had their clothes on in a twinkling, and a whole hour before their mother expected them came sliding down the bannister and landed at the breakfast “What’s going to happen today that you’re in such a hurry?” asked their mother. “We’re going to see the new girl next door,” said Tommy. “We may stay all day,” said Annika. That morning Pippi was busy making pepparkakor—a kind of Swedish cookie. She had made an enormous amount of dough and rolled it out on the kitchen floor. “Because,” said Pippi to her little monkey, “what earthly use is a baking board when one plans to make at least five hundred cookies?” And there she lay on the floor, cutting out cookie hearts for dear life. “Stop climbing around in the dough, Mr. Nils-son,” she said crossly just as the doorbell rang. Pippi ran and opened the door. She was white as a miller from top to toe, and when she shook hands heartily with Tommy and Annika a whole cloud of flour blew over them. “So nice you called,” she said and shook her apron—so there came another cloud of flour. Tommy and Annika got so much in their throats that they could not help coughing. “What are you doing?” asked Tommy. “Well, if I say that I’m sweeping the chimney, you won’t believe me, you’re so clever,” said Pippi. “Fact is, I’m baking. But I’ll soon be done. You can sit on the woodbox for a while.” Pippi could work fast, she could. Tommy and Annika sat and watched how she went through the dough, how she threw the cookies onto the cookie pans, and swung the pans into the oven. They thought it was as good as a circus. “Done I” said Pippi at last and shut the oven door on the last pans with a bang. “What are we going to do now?” asked Tommy. “I don’t know what you are going to do,” said Pippi, “but I know I can’t lie around and be lazy. I am a Thing-Finder, and when you’re a Thing-Finder you don’t have a minute to spare.” “What did you say you are?” asked Annika. “A Thing-Finder.” “What’s that?” asked Tommy. “Somebody who hunts for things, naturally. What else could it be?” said Pippi as she swept all the flour left on the floor into a little pile. “The whole world is full of things, and somebody has to look for them. And that’s just what a Thing-Finder does,” she finished. “What kind of things?” asked Annika. “Oh, all kinds,” said Pippi. “Lumps of gold, ostrich feathers, dead rats, candy snapcrackers, little tiny screws, and things like that.” Tommy and Annika thought it sounded as if it would be fun and wanted very much to be Thing-Finders too, although Tommy did say he hoped he’d find a lump of gold and not a little tiny screw. “We shall see what we shall see,” said Pippi. “One always finds something. But we’ve got to hurry up and get going so that other Thing-Finders don’t pick up all the lumps of gold around here before we get them.” All three Thing-Finders now set out. They decided that it would be best to begin hunting around the houses in the neighborhood, because Pippi said that although it could perfectly well happen that one might find a little screw deep in the woods, still the very best things were usually found where people were living. “Though, for that matter,” she said, “I’ve seen it the other way around too. I remember once when I was out hunting for things in the jungles of Borneo. Right in the heart of the forest, where no human being had ever before set foot, what do you suppose I found? Why, a very fine wooden leg! I gave it away later to a one-legged old man, and he said that a wooden leg like that wasn’t to be had for love or money.” Tommy and Annika looked at Pippi to see just how a Thing-Finder acted. Pippi ran from one side of the road to the other, shaded her eyes with her hand, and hunted and hunted. Sometimes she crawled about on her hands and knees, stuck her hands in between the pickets of a fence, and then said in a disappointed tone, “Oh, dear! I was sure I saw a lump of gold.” “May we really take everything we find?” asked Annika. “Yes, everything that is lying on the ground,” said Pippi. Presently they came to an old man lying asleep on the lawn outside his cottage. “There,” said Pippi, “that man is lying on the ground and we have found him. We’ll take him!” Tommy and Annika were utterly horrified. “No, no, Pippi, we can’t take an old gentleman! We couldn’t possibly,” said Tommy. “Anyway, whatever would we do with him?” “What would we do with him? Oh, there are plenty of things we could do with him. We could keep him in a little rabbit hutch instead of a rabbit and feed him on dandelions. But if you don’t want to, I don’t care. Though it does bother me to think that some other Thing-Finder may come along and grab him.” They went on. Suddenly Pippi gave a terrific yell. “Well, I never saw the like,” she cried, as she picked up a large, rusty old tin can from the grass. “What a find! What 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 hadn’t 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. 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. “Give it to him! Give it to him!” cried the oldest and strongest of the boys, “so that hell 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 once?” 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, jumping up and down and screaming, “Redhead! Redhead!” 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 attacking 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 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. “That certainly was strange,” 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.”