Pippi, Tommy, and Annika sat talking quietly on the sofa. The fire crackled on the hearth. The ladies drank their coffee, and all was quiet and peaceful again. And as so often happens at coffee parties, the ladies began to talk about their servant problems. Apparently they had not been able to get very good servants, for they were not at all satisfied with them, and they agreed that it really was better not to have any servants at all. It was much more satisfactory to do things yourself because then you at least knew that things were done right.
Pippi sat on the sofa listening, and after the ladies had been talking a while she said, "Once my grandmother had a servant named Malin. She had chilblains on her feet, but otherwise there was nothing wrong with her. The only annoying thing was that as soon as company came she would rush at them and bite their legs. And bark! Oh, how she would bark! You could hear it all through the neighborhood, but it was only because she was playful. Only, of course, strangers didn't always understand that. The dean's wife, an elderly woman, came to see Grandmother once soon after Malin first came, and when Malin came dashing at her and bit her in the ankle, the dean's wife screamed so loudly that it scared Malin, so that her teeth clamped together and she couldn't get them apart. There she sat, stuck to the dean's wife's ankle until Friday. And Grandmother had to peel the potatoes herself. But at least it was well done. She peeled so well that when she was done there were no potatoes left—only peelings. But after that Friday the dean's wife never came to call on Grandmother again. She just never could take a joke. And poor Malin who was always so good-natured and happy! Though for that matter she was a little touchy at times, there's no denying that. Once when Grandmother poked a fork in her ear she howled all day."
Pippi looked around and smiled pleasantly. "Yes, that was Malin for you," she said and twiddled her thumbs.
The ladies acted as if they had heard nothing.