Clutching it tightly in their hands, they rushed over to Pippi's. She was on the porch with her horse, braiding his tail into tiny pigtails and tying each one with red ribbon.
"I think it's his birthday today," she announced, "so he has to be all dressed up."
"Pippi," said Tommy, all out of breath because they had been running so fast, "Pippi, do you want to go with us to the circus?"
"I can go with you most anywhere," answered Pippi, "but whether I can go to the surkus or not I don't know, because I don't know what a surkus is.
Does it hurt?"
"Silly!" said Tommy. "Of course it doesn't hurt; it's fun. Horses and clowns and pretty ladies that walk the tightrope."
"But it costs money," said Annika, opening her small fist to see if the shiny half-dollar and the quarters were still there.
"I'm rich as a troll," said Pippi, "so I guess I can buy a surkus all right. But it'll be crowded here if I have more horses. The clowns and the pretty ladies I could keep in the laundry, but it's harder to know what to do with the horses."
"Oh, don't be so silly," said Tommy, "you don't buy a circus. It costs money to go and look at it— see?"
"Preserve us!" cried Pippi and shut her eyes tightly. "It costs money to look? And here I go around goggling all day long. Goodness knows how much money I've goggled up already!"
Then, little by little, she opened one eye very carefully, and it rolled round and round in her head. "Cost what it may," she said, "I must take a look!"
At last Tommy and Annika managed to explain to Pippi what a circus really was, and she took some gold pieces out of her suitcase. Then she put on her hat, which was as big as a millstone, and off they all went.
There were crowds of people outside the circus tent and a long line at the ticket window. But at last it was Pippi's turn. She stuck her head through the window and stared at the dear old lady sitting there.
"How much does it cost to look at you?" Pippi asked.
But the old lady was a foreigner who did not understand what Pippi meant and answered in broken Swedish.