Tommy combed his hair with water so that it would lie all nice and smooth. He certainly didn't want any curls. Then Annika wanted to put on her very best dress, but her mother thought she'd better not for she was seldom neat and clean when she came home from Pippi's; so Annika had to be satisfied with her next best dress. Tommy didn't care what suit he wore so long as he looked nice.
Of course they had bought a present for Pippi. They had taken the money out of their own piggy banks, and on the way home from school had run into the toy shop on Main Street and bought a very beautiful—well, what they had bought was a secret for the time being. There it lay, wrapped in green paper and tied with a great deal of string, and when they were ready Tommy took the package, and off they went, followed by their mother's warning to take good care of their clothes. Annika was to carry the package part of the way, and they were both to hold it when they handed it to Pippi—that they had agreed upon.
It was already November, and dusk came early. When Tommy and Annika went in through the gate of Villa Villekulla they held each other's hands tightly, because it was quite dark in Pippi's garden and the wind sighed mournfully through the bare old trees. "Seems like fall," said Tommy. It was so much pleasanter to see the lighted windows in Villa Villekulla and to know that they were going to a birthday party.
Ordinarily Tommy and Annika rushed in through the kitchen door, but this time they went to the front door. The horse was not on the porch. Tommy gave a lively knock on the door. From inside came a low voice:
Who comes in the dark night
On the road to my house?
Is it a ghost or just
A poor little mouse?
"No, no, Pippi, it's us," shrieked Annika. "Open the door!"
Pippi opened the door.
"Oh, Pippi, why did you say that about a ghost? I was so scared," said Annika and completely forgot to congratulate Pippi.
Pippi laughed heartily and opened the door to the kitchen. How good it was to come in where it was light and warm!