Annika gasped. "A-a-are there really ghosts in the attic?" she asked.
"Are there ghosts? Millions!" said Pippi. "It's just swarming with all sorts of ghosts and spirits. You trip over them wherever you walk. Shall we go up?"
"Oh, Pippi!" said Annika and looked reproachfully at her.
"Mamma says there aren't any such things as ghosts and goblins," said Tommy boldly.
"And well she might," said Pippi, "because there aren't any anywhere else. All the ghosts in the world live in my attic. And it doesn't pay to try to make them move. But they aren't dangerous. They just pinch you in the arm so you get black and blue, and they howl, and they play ninepins with their heads."
"Do—do—do they really play n-n-ninepins with their heads?"
"Sure, that's just what they do," said Pippi. "Come on, let's go up and talk with them. I'm good at playing n-n-ninepins."
Tommy didn't want to show that he was frightened, and in a way he really did want to see a ghost. That would be something to tell the boys at school! Besides, he consoled himself with the thought that the ghosts probably wouldn't dare to hurt Pippi. He decided to go along. Poor Annika didn't want to go under any circumstances, but then she happened to think that a little tiny ghost might sneak downstairs while she was sitting alone in the kitchen. That decided the matter. Better to be with Pippi and Tommy among thousands of ghosts than alone in the kitchen with even the tiniest little ghost child.
Pippi went first. ,She opened the door to the attic stairs. It was pitch-dark there. Tommy took a firm grip on Pippi, and Annika took an even firmer grip on Tommy, and so they went up. The stairs creaked and squeaked with every step. Tommy began to wonder if it wouldn't have been better to stay down in the kitchen, and Annika didn't need to wonder—she was sure of it. At last they came to the top of the stairs and stood in the attic. It was pitch-dark there too, except where a little moonbeam shone on the floor. There were sighs and mysterious noises in every corner when the wind blew in through the cracks.
Bootoolgah the crane and Goonur the kangaroo rat, the fire makers
Category: Australian folktales
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