Just tell me if you do," said Pippi threateningly and rolled up her sleeves.
"Oh, no, indeed," said the girl, terrified. "I don't really mean that you are lying, but—"
"No?" said Pippi. "But it's just what I'm doing. I'm lying so my tongue is turning black. Do you really think that a child can live without food from May to October? To be sure, I know they can get along without food for three or four months all right. But from May to October! It's just foolish to think that. You must know that's a lie. You mustn't let people fool you so easily."
Then the girl left without turning around again.
"People will believe anything," said Pippi to Tommy and Annika. "From May until October! That's ridiculous!"
Then she called after the girl, "No, we haven't seen your papa. We haven't seen a single bald-headed person all day. But yesterday seventeen of them went by. Arm in arm."
Pippi's garden was really lovely. You couldn't say it was well kept, but there were wonderful grass plots that were never cut, and old rose-bushes that were full of white and yellow and pink roses—perhaps not such fine roses, but oh, how sweet they smelled! A good many fruit trees grew there too, and, best of all, several ancient oaks and elms that were excellent for climbing.
The trees in Tommy's and Annika's garden were not very good for climbing, and besides, their mother was always so afraid they would fall and get hurt that they had never climbed much. But now Pippi said, "Suppose we climb up in the big oak tree?"
Tommy jumped down from the gate at once, delighted with the suggestion. Annika was a little hesitant, but when she saw that the trunk had nubbly places to climb on, she too thought it would be fun to try.
A few feet above the ground the oak divided into two branches, and right there was a place just like a little room. Before long all three children were sitting there. Over their heads the oak spread out its crown like a great green roof.
"We could drink coffee here," said Pippi. "I'll skip in and make a little.