Pippi Moves into Villa Villekulla
On the edge of the tiny little town was an old garden, all overgrown. In this garden was an old house and in that house lived Pippi Longstocking. She was nine years old and she lived there all alone. She didn’t have a mum or a dad, and that was actually quite nice because there was nobody to tell her to go to bed just when she was having the most fun, and nobody to make her take cod liver oil when she would rather eat sweets.
Pippi had a dad once, and she’d liked him ever so much—-she had a mum too, of course, but that was such a long time ago she couldn’t remember anything about it. Her mum had died when Pippi was a tiny, tiny baby who lay in her cot and screamed and screamed so horrendously that no one could go near her. Pippi thought her mum was up in heaven looking down on her little girl through a peephole, and Pippi often waved to her up there and said:
“Don’t worry! I’ll be all right!”
Pippi hadn’t forgotten her dad. He was a ship’s captain and sailed the great oceans, and Pippi had sailed with him until the time he blew overboard in a huge storm and disappeared. But Pippi was absolutely certain he would come back one day. She didn’t believe he had drowned at all. She thought he had washed ashore on an island in the South Seas and become the island king, and was walking around all day with a golden crown on his head.
“My mum is an angel and my dad is a South Sea Island king. Not every child has such special parents, you know,” Pippi always said, sounding pleased with herself. “And as soon as my dad can build a boat he’ll come and fetch me and then I’ll be a South Sea Island princess. What a time we’ll have, tra--la--la!”
Many years ago her dad had bought the old house that stood in the garden. He had planned to live there with Pippi when he got too old and doddery to sail the oceans any longer. But then, of course, that annoying thing happened, when he was blown into the sea, so while she was waiting for him to come back Pippi went straight home to Villa Villekulla.
That was the name of the house. It stood there, ready and waiting, with furniture and everything. One beautiful summer’s evening she said good--bye to all the shipmates on her dad’s boat. They were so fond of Pippi, and Pippi was fond of them.
“Cheerio, lads,” Pippi said, giving each and every one a kiss on the forehead. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be all right!”
She took two things with her from the boat. A little monkey called Mr. Nilsson—-a present from her dad—-and a big travel bag full of golden coins. The shipmates stood on the deck and watched Pippi walk away until they couldn’t see her any more. She strode on with Mr. Nilsson on her shoulder and the travel bag in her hand, and didn’t look round once.
“A remarkable child,” said one of the shipmates, wiping a tear from his eye as Pippi disappeared into the distance.
He was right. Pippi was a very remarkable child. And the most remarkable thing about her was her strength. She was so spectacularly strong that inthe whole wide world there was no one as strong as she was, not even a policeman. She could lift up a whole horse if she wanted to. And she did want to. She had her own horse that she had bought with one of her gold coins the very same day she came home to Villa Villekulla. She had always longed for a horse of her own and now she had one, and he lived on the veranda. But when it was time for Pippi’s afternoon coffee she picked him up and put him in the garden with no problem at all.
Next to Villa Villekulla there was another garden and another house. In that house lived a dad and a mum with their two sweet little children, a boy and a girl. The boy was called Tommy and the girl was called Annika.
They were two very polite and well--behaved and obedient children. Tommy never bit his nails and he always did as his mum told him. Annika never argued when she couldn’t have her own way, and she was always very neat in her well--ironed cotton dresses, which she was careful not to get dirty. Tommy and Annika played very nicely together in their garden but they often wished for a friend to play with, and while Pippi was still sailing around on the ocean with her dad they used to hang over the fence and say to each other:
“It’s stupid that no one ever moves into that house! Someone should be living there. Someone with children.”
On that beautiful summer’s evening when Pippi walked through the door of Villa Villekulla for the first time, Tommy and Annika weren’t at home. They had gone to stay with their grandma for a week. That’s why they had no idea that someone had moved in next door. And the day after they came home and were standing at their gate, looking into the street, they still didn’t know that there actually was someone to play with so close by. Just as they were standing there, wondering what to do, and whether anything interesting was going to happen that day or whether it was going to be one of those boring days when there was nothing to do—-just then the gate of Villa Villekulla opened and a little girl walked out.
She was the strangest little girl Tommy and Annika had ever seen. It was Pippi Longstocking, going for her morning stroll. This is what she looked like:
Her hair was the same color as a carrot and was in two tight plaits that stuck straight out. Her nose looked exactly like a small potato and was smothered in freckles. Under her nose was an extraordinarily wide mouth full of healthy white teeth. Her dress was quite peculiar. Pippi had sewn it herself. It was supposed to be blue but the blue material had run out, so Pippi had to put red patches here and there. On her long, thin legs she wore a pair of long stockings, one brown and the other black, and she was also wearing a pair of black shoes that were precisely twice as long as her feet. Pippi’s dad had bought them for her in South America, big enough for her to grow into, and Pippi wouldn’t wear anything else.
What especially amazed Tommy and Annika was the monkey sitting on the new girl’s shoulder. It was a little squirrel monkey, dressed in blue trousers, a yellow jacket and a white straw hat.
Pippi set off down the street. She walked with one foot on the pavement and the other in the gutter. Tommy and Annika stared after her until they couldn’t see her any more. After a while she came back, and this time she was walking backward. That was so she didn’t have to turn round to walk home. When she reached Tommy and Annika’s gate she stopped. The children looked at each other in silence. At last Tommy said:
“Why did you walk backward?”
“Why I walked backward?” Pippi said. “We live in a free country, don’t we? Aren’t you allowed to walk any way you want? Let me tell you that in Egypt every single person walks like that and no one thinks it’s strange in the slightest.”
“How do you know?” asked Tommy. “You’ve never been to Egypt.”
“Me, not been to Egypt! That’s news to me. I’ve been everywhere in the entire world and seen much stranger things than people walking backward. I wonder what you’d have said if I’d walked on my hands like they do in Furthest India?”
“Now you’re lying,” Tommy said.
Pippi thought about that for a moment.
“Yes, you’re right. I am lying,” she said sadly.
“It’s bad to tell lies,” said Annika, who had at last dared to open her mouth.
“Yes, it’s very bad to tell lies,” said Pippi, even more sadly. “But you see, I forget from time to time. And how can anyone expect a little child who has an angel for a mum and a South Sea Island king for a dad, and who has sailed around on the sea the whole of her life, to tell the truth all the time? And by the way,” she added, the whole of her freckly face beaming, “Let me tell you that in the Congo not one single person tells the truth. They lie all day. They start at seven in the morning and carry on until the sun goes down. So if I happen to lie now and then you’ll have to try and forgive me, and remember it’s because I lived in the Congo for too long. But we can still be friends, can’t we?”
“Of course,” said Tommy, and he suddenly felt that this was probably not going to be one of those boring days.
“By the way, why not come and eat breakfast with me?” Pippi asked.
“Since you’re asking,” said Tommy, “why not? Come on, let’s go!”
“Yes,” said Annika. “Right now!”
“But first I must introduce you to Mr. Nilsson,” Pippi said. The little monkey took off his hat and bowed politely.
So they walked through Villa Villekulla’s garden gate, which was falling to pieces, and up the gravel path lined with ancient trees covered in moss—-perfect climbing trees by the look of them—-to the house and onto the veranda. There stood the horse, chomping oats from a soup tureen.
“Why on earth have you got a horse on the veranda?” asked Tommy. All the horses he knew lived in a stable.
“Well,” said Pippi, thinking. “He’d only be in the way in the kitchen. And he doesn’t like the sitting room.”
Tommy and Annika patted the horse and then they carried on into the house. Inside there was a kitchen, a sitting room and a bedroom, but it looked as if Pippi had forgotten to do the weekly cleaning. Tommy and Annika looked around nervously in case that South Sea Island king was sitting in a corner. They had never seen a South Sea Island king in all their life. But there was no dad, and no mum either, and Annika asked anxiously:
“Do you live here all alone?”
“Definitely not,” said Pippi. “Mr. Nilsson and the horse live here too.”
“No, I mean, haven’t you got a mum or a dad here?”
“No, not at all,” said Pippi cheerfully.
“But who tells you when it’s time to go to bed every evening, and that kind of thing?” Annika asked.
“I do that myself,” said Pippi. “First I tell myself once, very nicely, and if I don’t obey I tell myself again, quite crossly, and if I still don’t obey, well, then there’s trouble, I can tell you.”
Tommy and Annika didn’t really understand this but thought it might be a good way to go about it. By this time they had reached the kitchen and all of a sudden Pippi yelled:
Take your seaty, pancake-eaty
She took out three eggs and threw them high into the air. One dropped on her head and broke, and the egg yolk dripped into her eyes. But she expertly caught the others in a saucepan where they cracked open.
“Well, they say egg yolk is good for your hair,” Pippi said, wiping her eyes. “You watch, it’ll come sprouting out of my head now. In Brazil, by the way, everyone walks around with egg in their hair, and of course you never see a bald head anywhere. There was only one man silly enough to eat up all his eggs instead of putting them on his head. And do you know what? He went bald, as expected. And whenever he set foot outside there was such a hullabaloo the police had to be called for.”
While she had been speaking Pippi had very handily scooped all the pieces of egg shell out of the saucepan with her fingers. Then she took a long--handled scrubbing brush from its hook on the wall and began whisking the pancake batter so fast it splashed all over the walls. Finally she poured what was left into a pancake pan that was heating on the stove.
When the pancake was cooked on one side she tossed it halfway to the ceiling and caught it in the pan again, and when it was ready she threw it right across the kitchen and onto a plate that was waiting on the table.
“Eat!” she shouted. “Eat, before it gets cold!”
Tommy and Annika ate and thought it was a very delicious pancake. Afterward Pippi invited them into the sitting room. There was only one piece of furniture in there. It was an enormous writing bureau with lots and lots of small drawers. Pippi opened the drawers and showed Tommy and Annika all the treasures she kept inside. There were fantastic birds’ eggs and odd--looking shells and stones, pretty little boxes, beautiful silver mirrors, and strings of beads, and all sorts of other things that Pippi and her dad had bought on their travels round the world. Pippi gave her new friends a present each, so they would always remember the day. Tommy got a dagger with a shimmering mother--of--pearl handle, and Annika a small box with a lid covered in pink shells. Inside the box lay a ring with a green stone.
“Why not go home now, so you can come back again tomorrow?” said Pippi. “Because unless you go home, you can’t come back, you see. And that would be a pity.”
Annika and Tommy agreed, and so they went home, past the horse that had eaten up all the oats, and through Villa Villekulla’s garden gate. Mr. Nilsson waved his hat as they left.