At sea we were never so fussy about things like that. But I promise that I'll take special pains today so you won't have to be ashamed of me."
"Good," said Tommy, and he and Annika hurried home again in the rain.
"This afternoon at three o'clock, don't forget," cried Annika, peeking out from under the umbrella.
At three o'clock a very stylish young lady walked up the steps of the Settergrens' house. It was Pippi Longstocking. For this special occasion she had unbraided her pigtails, and her red hair hung like a lion's mane around her. With red crayon she had painted her mouth fiery red, and she had blackened her eyebrows so that she looked almost dangerous. With the crayon she had also painted her fingernails, and she had put big green rosettes on her shoes.
"I should imagine I'll be the most stylish person of all at this party," she said contentedly to herself as she rang the doorbell.
In the Settergrens' living room sat three fine ladies, and with them Tommy, Annika, and their mother. A wonderful coffee table had been spread, and in the fireplace a fire was burning brightly. The ladies were talking quietly with one another, and Tommy and Annika were sitting on the sofa, looking at an album. Everything was so peaceful.
Suddenly the peace was shattered.
"Atten-shun!" A piercing cry came from the hall, and the next minute Pippi Longstocking stood in the doorway. She had cried out so loudly and so unexpectedly that the ladies had jumped in their seats.
"Forward march!" came the next command, and Pippi, with measured steps, walked up to Mrs. Settergren.
"Halt!" She stopped. "Arms forward, one, two," she cried and with both hands gripped one of Mrs. Settergren's and shook it heartily.
"Knees bend!" she shrieked and curtsied prettily. Then she smiled at Mrs. Settergren and said in her ordinary voice, "You see, I am really very shy, so if I didn't give myself some commands I'd just stand in the hall and not dare to come in."
Then she rushed up to the other ladies and kissed them on the cheek.