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Love, Pippi

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Annika Settergren Lendqvist
Vegagatan 21
Göteborg

Tomas Settergren
Lund University/Mathematics
Sölvegatan 18
Lund

18th April, 196-

Dear Tom,

The big news here is that Papa's agent has closed on a house and they are truly moving back to Vimmerby! They do not expect to make the move until mid-June, which I trust will work for you? I am counting on you to drive the van, as I am sure I cannot manage it myself, and Per has of course volunteered but I think there will be enough to do with Mama and Papa that Vivi will be better off staying at home with him to look after her.

I am quite relieved to have until June to pack them up - I go over every day but feel like I've barely made a dent in it. We can't possibly have had so many things when we moved to Göteburg. It's a little frightening what one can amass in twenty years - imagine if we all still lived to Biblical ages, we'd need houses the size of assembly-halls.

Do you think you might come up for a few days beforehand? Vivi is a bit glum thinking of her Mor-Mor and Mor-Phar moving to the other side of the country. Per tries to cheer her up talking of all the further-away places they could be going - Sundsvall, like Phar-Phar, or up to Lappland with the reindeer, or Hollywood with the movie stars, or the moon - but she's old enough to look at a map and see we won't all be having dinner together twice a week. I don't want to impose but a visit from her uncle would be just the thing to distract her.

It is so strange to think of going back! Papa has described the new house but when I try to picture it I see the old one. And the Villa next door, of course. Do you think it's changed much? In my mind, it must still be just the same, the hollow tree and the horse on the porch. I hardly dare suggest... do you suppose we might visit?

Love,
Annika

Tomas Settergren
Lund University/Mathematics
Sölvegatan 18
Lund

Annika Settergren Lendqvist
Vegagatan 21
Göteborg

30th April, 196-

Dear Annika,

Mid-June should be fine - I had better have the term wrapped up by then, or I'll need to flee the wrath of the department secretaries in any case, marks being due by Flag Day. I appreciate you tackling the packing. I'm not sure I'd be equal to the task. You can't go expecting Vimmerby to be like it was when we were children, though. Things have changed everywhere, and you shouldn't think a lot of country villas are going to get preserved like royal palaces. As far as visiting the neighbors, I think it would look rather odd: it's our parents who are moving in, not us, and they're competent to introduce themselves around.

My best to everyone,
Tom

Annika Settergren Lendqvist
Vegagatan 21
Göteborg

Tomas Settergren
Lund University/Mathematics
Sölvegatan 18
Lund

5th May, 196-

Dear Tom,

I know you pride yourself on being the "steady" one, meaning dull, but I think you must be acting obtuse on purpose just to vex me. You know perfectly well I don't mean "a lot of country villas", I mean one house, Villa Villekulla, and I don't mean to go visiting whatever nice country families happen to surround the new house, I mean our particular old friend, Pippi, who we moved away from twenty years ago and never saw again!

I don't know why you must always be so reluctant to talk about her. You waited for the post every day just as eagerly as I did to see if she'd written us back. You begged Papa to let us go on holiday to Vimmerby instead of that trip to Stockholm. You even went down to the harbor to ask people if they'd seen the Hoptoad - I wouldn't have had the nerve to do that back then, not to that huge harbor! So you needn't pretend you don't miss her just as much as I do. And yes, I know it sounds a little foolish for a grown and married woman to say she still misses a little girl she knew back when she was barely older than her own daughter is now, but there simply is no one else like Pippi. I can't picture her grown up at all - maybe on Kurrekurredut, if she went back. I always wondered if that is where she went... I don't suppose we put enough postage on our letters back then to get them forwarded to the South Pacific.

Anyways. The news here is, I have cleaned out the attic! It was a Thing-Finding extravaganza, yielding, among other things, an old milk-bottle full of buttons, a motorcycle helmet, a heap of worn-out galoshes, a crate of neatly-wrapped glass chimneys for oil lamps, five sets of metal camp dishes - when did we ever go camping? - and, saving the best for last, at the far end of the attic, an old eiderdown bolster that had become a nest for squirrels. It was like a flock of geese had exploded and then been run over by a parade. I thought it must have happened years ago but when I bent over to start picking up the remnants a squirrel jumped out onto my head and then up into the rafters. Per, swinging reflexively, nearly took off my head with the broom. We went round the whole attic but it must have escaped somewhere. I'm taking on Papa's study next, and while I quail at the thought of twenty years of cheque stubs, at least I don't expect to find anything living there!

Love,
Annika

P.S. I left this letter out for Per to read and he has illustrated the adventure of the squirrel... the stick figure wearing the strange hat in the snow in the left margin is meant to be me with the squirrel on my head and feathers flying all over, and the one on the right with the rake is Per with the broom. He wants me to reassure you that despite the look of those spots, measles has not broken out in our household, he only tried to put in his freckles and the pen made them too dark. The little girl at the bottom with the braids is Vivi, but she's helpfully printed in the "Dear Uncle Tom" and "Love Viveka" on either side, so I suppose I needn't clarify. She really would be delighted if you would visit, you know, even just an extra day. I promise I wonít put you to work, I expect to be done on time, despite all the help Iím not getting: Per didn't draw Mama but you may imagine her sitting in a corner putting the same pair of gloves into and out of a suitcase. How is it she's sharp as a tack when it comes to planning out her country gardens but she cannot pack a box without me standing there giving instructions?

Annika Settergren Lendqvist
Vegagatan 21
Göteborg

Tomas Settergren
Lund University/Mathematics
Sölvegatan 18
Lund

8th May, 196-

Dear Tom,

I am shaking as I write this. I don't know how to tell you this - I don't know what you'll think. I don't know what I think.

I was cleaning out Papa's study, and he had this drawer stuffed full of old letters, and tucked in there was. Well. You can read them.

He says that when we were away on Kurrekurredut, he and Mama worried dreadfully, and felt they'd been much too careless and that nothing of the sort could ever be allowed to happen again. And then when he got the promotion and transfer to Göteborg, they decided it was an opportune time to sever the connection so they didn't... oh, just read the letters.

-Annika


Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Efraimsdotter Longstocking
Villa Villekulla
Vimmerby

Tmmy and Anika Settergren
Resedagatan 30
Göteborg

Jun the 20 194?

Deer Tmmy and Anika,

You left this morning. I have cryd so menny teers that I coud take a bath in them, if the salt woud not dry on my skin and be itchy and if I took baths. I think I will use them to wash the windos insted. Did you know that in Curacao ther is not much fresh water and they only ever wash the windos with teers. The Carribbbean winds make everything dusty and when they can't see out the windos any more and it is time to wash them they have to make someone cry until they have enouf teers. It is always the job of the littelest children to cry because they don't know so many reesons to be happy yet. But if the children grow a littel and lern some reesons to be happy then they make them chop oniyons and that will make anyone cry. Well this is the longest letter I have ever wrote so I will stop. I hope your trip to Gutburg was without insident. I have never had a trip without insident but I have also never been to Gutburg. I can't wait to visit you once you are settld.

Love, Your Frend Always,
Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Efraimsdotter Longstocking

Pippilotta Delicatssa Windwshd Mackrlmnt Efrmsdttr Longstocking
Villa Villekulla
Vimmerby

Tmmy and Anika Settergren
Resedagatan 30
Göteborg

5 of Julai 1937 1992 19 This Yeer

Deer Tmmy and Anika,

I receeved your letter two days ago and was going to answer it yesterday but the horse got his head stuck in the coal-stove again and in the end I had to greese it up to get him out. Do not worry there was not a fire at the time. I am glad to heer you like your rooms in the new house and I am very tuchd that you have put the clock up rite away. I gess ther was not much to say about windo-washing in Curacao so I will tell you some more news heer. Ther are three sunflowers growing in the south yard I think from wer I spit some seeds. I am thinking about nitting a sweter do you think the left arm shoud be blue and the rite arm ornj or the left arm green and the rite arm yello. If it was blue and yello they mite mistake me for the flag and run me up a flagpoll and woudn't that be a trick to get down from. I mite have to live up ther and then I coud never come visit. I woud be sad.

Love,
Pippilotta

Pippilotta Deli-etcetera Longstocking
Villa Villekulla
Vimmerby

Tmmy and Anika Settergren
Resedagatan 30
Göteborg

28 JVLI MCMXLQEIIIIV

Deer Tmmy and Anika,

I got your second letter. I am very glad to heer you live so neer to a park. It woud be very hard to live with the streets all stone and just bildings and no trees to clime. But I am a littel worryd I don't understand how to write letters rite. You did not anser my qwestshun about the sweter and I have had to go ahed and make the left arm and the rite arm both green and yello stripes to be on the safe side. But they go up-and-down on the left and round-and-round on the rite. But annywaes writing these letters is hard work and if I am not doing it rite please tell me as I do not have a mother to teech me these things.

Love,
Pippippippi

P. D. W. M. E. L.
V. V.
V.

T. and A. S.
Resedagatan 30
Göteborg

1.th S. 1.

Deer Tmmy and Anika,

I gess you must be very busy in Gutburg. Is it time for school already? You must have menny new frends and that is good because it is good to have menny frends. But please do not forget

Your Pippi Longstocking

First Mate Pippi Efraim's Daughter of the Hoptoad
the Hoptoad
in the harbor at Västervik but leeving soon

Tmmy and Anika Settergren
Resedagatan 30
Göteborg

32nd October 194-

Deer Tmmy and Anika,

The villij is lonly without you and I am going sailing with my father. But letters adresd to me on the Hoptoad shoud still get to me by way of the seecret sistem of mail between all saylors on the see in which they carry the letters in their hats and then wen they meet... well, annyways. I hope I will heer from you and who knows, maybe the Hoptoad will dock in Gutburg some time! It is the biggest harbor in Sweden and it is qwite stranj when you think of it that I have never been ther when I have been to so many harbors.

Love,
Pippi

Pippilotta Delicatessa Youngforevera Longstocking?
the Hoptoad
at see in the South China See

Tmmy and Anika Settergren
Resedagatan 30
Göteborg

I think its March ther and February heer unless its the other way round time zons always confuse me

Deer Tmmy and Anika,

Something stranj has happend to me and I woud very much like to know wat you think. We put in to Guangzhou to take on supplys and do a littel trading. I went to the market to get a new hat for Mr. Nilsson he does luz them so. An old lady stopd me and admird my hair. Her hair was pure wite. Her face was worn but she had a big smile and lookd like she had a good sense of fun so I did some circus flips and told the only joke I know in Cantonese. (It is kind of long and does not translate very well so please excuse my not repeeting it heer.) She likd the joke a lot. She invitd me to come into her tent wheir she had a larj mirror. She told me the mirror was an ainshunt famely airloom and if you lookd into it you coud wish that you woud never grow old and it woud come true. But ther was a catch, ether your body coud stay young or your mind coud but not both. Now I have to confess that after we took those chililug pills I did not feel much of an efect and I grew a hole nother inch just three months after and if I kept on like that obveeusly I was going to grow up. So maybe the strangth had gone out of them after all. But this mirror gave me a sort of tingel when I lookd at it and so... I did. And... I do feel diffirant!

Now, which do you think I wishd? Please write to me and gess and then when I come to Gutburg you can try to see if you can tell a diffirense and then I will tell you wich and you can tell me wat you think. Because sometimes espeshully at nite I think I chose wrong.

-P

Princess Pilotta of Kurrekurredut
Kurrekurredut Iland c/o central post at Rarotonga
Cook Ilands
Pasific Oshun

Tmmy and Anika Settergren
Resedagatan 30
Göteborg

neer midsummer

Deer Tmmy and Anika,

My life sailing around must seem silly and far away wen you are in the big city. We have met severul ships out of Gutburg but none have had anny letters. Things have been a littel upset for me since I made my wish in Guangzhou and I am going to stay on Kurrekurredut for a wile to sort myself out. I gess this is the last time I will write you for now. Maybe when I go back to Villa Villekulla I will let you know.

Or maybe not.

But I will never forget you.

All my love,
Pippi

Tomas Settergren
Lund University/Mathematics
Sölvegatan 18
Lund

Annika Settergren Lendqvist
Vegagatan 21
Göteborg

17th May, 196-

Dear Annika,

Before receiving your last letter, I was writing what I considered a very smart reply to the previous which began "Really, Annika." I had already used the phrase "adults now" twice, also "a long time ago" and "I barely remember".

I have burned it.

Our poor Pippi! Our poor, poor Pippi! How could we have stopped writing her! The best friend we will ever have, and we gave up after two unanswered letters! If only we had kept on. Especially those last letters... what could have happened to her? Did she contract some disease? Get dosed with some Oriental drug? Or was it just a game? She couldn't really have made a wish in a magic mirror and had it come true... could she? I've told myself that what I remember couldn't possibly have been real, that it's all mixed around with lets-pretend games. But if she was real... then what else could be? Although. She was everything you didn't think she could be, but she was never impossible in a supernatural way. Was she? She was so strong...

"Young in mind or body." What if she did choose one? Would it leave her feebleminded, ten-year-old mind in a thirty-year-old body? Or would she be some stunted dwarf, a woman's mind under those impossible braids? What kind of life can she have led? I don't know whether I hope she went back to Vimmerby or not, perhaps the island would be more forgiving of any strangeness... any additional strangeness, she already wasn't just a child, exactly... I can't imagine her grown up any more than I can believe she might not have, if that makes sense. Although she'd be a remarkable woman. I almost think we'd have to have heard of her, don't you? We'd spot her picture in the newspapers, leading anarchist marches, politely carrying stacks of policemen away from sit-ins... she'd still have that red hair, but she'd be tall enough for those shoes to finally fit. Could we possibly find her in Vimmerby? June suddenly seems impossibly distant.

But not too distant to firm up our plans, I can hear you saying, so I will arrive on the 8th. I assume you do not mind my staying with you; after this little revelation, I don't want to see our parents any more than I must, while I would very much like to spend some time with Vivi. The accompanying parcel is for her... just some odds and ends. The black stone is the fossil of a trilobyte, I can tell her about those when I visit. The leaves are laminated in plastic, it's a new process the botanists are testing to preserve specimens. The lump of purple glass I found on a beach once. The arrowhead was a gift from a professor in the archaeology department, don't worry, I didn't nick it. The origami crane was a gift from a student. Funny what builds up in your desk drawers, you'd think in the math department we'd have nothing but chalk... oh, I threw in some chalk. Good for life-sized sidewalk portraits. There might be a few other things as well.

Love,
Tom

Annika Settergren Lendqvist
Vegagatan 21
Göteborg

Tomas Settergren
Lund University/Mathematics
Sölvegatan 18
Lund

25 May, 196-

Dear Tom,

You sound positively Victorian fretting about this youth-mirror business. "Feebleminded"? "Stunted dwarf"? As if any little impairment could change her Pippi-ness. Per assures me you are not at the one university lacking Social Democrats so there are meetings going on if you'd like some help joining the rest of us in modern Sweden.

Vivi is enchanted with all the little things from your parcel. You have saved us from quite a fit of the mopes. The house is finally all packed - I'll see you soon.

Do try not to be too angry with Mama and Papa - what they did was very wrong, but, well, just think of Pippi, how she never got angry, not with those bullies or burglars or anyone. And... I hope you will not hate me for saying this, but while I am certainly very upset that they just cut us off from Pippi like that, I've had some time to think about it now, and of course there's no way to know how things would be different, but while I don't think it was the effect they intended at all, it did have an effect on me, and I think that effect was, well, good, in some ways. Per will not believe me for anything, but I really was terribly timid back then, and I don't know that I would have tried so hard to find my own Pippi, to make my own Pippi and be my own Pippi, if she hadn't been so very lost to us. I know it was different for you. But... it doesn't have to be. It's not too late. I know you're hoping she's there at Villa Villekulla. I am too. But if she's not... something to think about?

But I do hope she's in Vimmerby!

Love,
Annika

Tomas Settergren
Lund University/Mathematics
Sölvegatan 18
Lund

Annika Settergren Lendqvist
Vegagatan 21
Göteborg

2nd June, 196-

Dear Annika,

You're right, of course. And I know that. And I suspect you've even guessed that recent gestures towards remedying eight years of perfunctory uncle-ing don't just come out of the blue. (There might even be a series of coded pirate maps to figure out, when I get to Göteburg...) But, with no slight intended towards your charming and irrepressible redheads (or your very-much-not-shy self - I can't blame Per for not believing you, as I tend to forget myself, and I was there), I want ours back.

Less than a week!
Tom

Viveka Lendqvist
Vegagatan 21
Göteborg

13th June, 196-

My dearest Viveka,

I am putting this postcard in the mail very first thing before unpacking even one box or suitcase to let you know that we all arrived safely but they won't be getting their telephone hooked up for another week at least. I will write again soon. I miss you, my pearl.

Love,
Annika

Annika Settergren Lendqvist
Svalgatan 4
Vimmerby

Per Lendqvist
Vegagatan 21
Göteborg

15th June, 196-

My dear,

I fear those last few weeks must have been very trying as all I ever talked about was Pippi. Well, Pippi and packing boxes. So you would be forgiven if you were rather tired of the subject. But... I would like to think that you have come to understand what she means to me, and share a little in my excitement.

We were all exhausted after the drive and unpacked just enough to haul the mattresses into the parlor, where we threw down a couple of quilts and all collapsed. And then the next day Tom and I were needed for the box brigade and couldn't get away... I think we must have been gnashing our teeth by suppertime! We did finally get the van unloaded, and to my pleasant surprise Mama has taken to unpacking with a vigor she never evinced towards the packing. Tom and I thus felt no guilt at all about sneaking out the following morning before we could be press-ganged. The new house is on the other side of the village from our old one and we had a lovely walk through the lanes seeing what had changed and what hadn't. It was however a very brisk walk as we were both keen to see what we would discover at Villa Villekulla and we each kept speeding up, just a little bit, until the pace had crept up to a near jog, at which point we made ourselves pause and walk the rest of the way with one foot on the curb and one foot in the gutter the way Pippi used to, as a calming-down exercise.

I will not hold you further in suspense: she was not at Villa Villekulla.

But! On the porch where the horse used to stay there was a large green glass jug, anchored securely to the porch rail by a smooth brass chain and a stout bit of rope on the right and left handles respectively. The jug was stoppered with dusty, red wax over a plug of cork, and inside the jug was a tightly-rolled paper tied with strips of palm, addressed down the length of it to Tommy and Annika Settergren. We unstoppered the jug and shook it out and it was - I would love to send you the very letter itself, but I don't think Tommy will consent to be parted with it, so here is the text exactly as written:

This letter is for Tmmy and Anika Settergren
If you are not them, you shoud not be reeding other peeples' mail

Tmmy and Anika
I have never ceezed to hope that you will someday come back to Villa Villekulla and look for me
I am leeving you this letter in a bottel - I gess you know that part
My ship, the Spink, puts in every year at Midsummer in the harbor in Västervik
Tho yeers may pas I think you will recognize me
(I rarely put in without insident)
You will always be welcome abord

... Well?

-Annika

RECEIVED AT VIMMERBY
18 JUNE
ANNIKA LENDQVIST
SVALGATAN 4

OF COURSE WILL COME AT ONCE STOP WILL MAKE ALL NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS STOP ARRIVE ON 20TH STOP TELEGRAPH NEXT TIME SILLY STOP PER STOP END

Tomas Settergren
Svalgatan 4
Vimmerby

Viveka Lendqvist
On her way to Vimmerby

19th June 196-

Dear Miss Viveka,

You will be here before I could mail this letter but it is a help to me to write it out so I ask you to have patience with your uncle. Plus I think your Papa must be very busy right now and has maybe not had time to answer all of your questions and my own arrangements were not so complicated so perhaps I can help fill in the gaps.

The lady we are hoping to meet is named Pippi Longstocking. Her name is properly much longer but I will leave it to her to tell you in case I don't get all the middle ones right. I think you will like her very much... you remind me of her a great deal. She has red hair like you and your Papa, but even brighter, and freckles like your Papa but even more, and she is stronger than anyone in the whole world, even policemen. And sharks.

I don't know how old she may look if you get to meet her and that is one of the special things about Pippi - she may be a grown-up lady or a little girl! Or maybe both at the same time! Another thing is that we will be meeting her in Västervik - it only took us a few minutes on the horse when we were young, but it seems to take over an hour by auto. Hmm... maybe that was something special about the horse! I am not sure what happened to the horse. He used to live on the porch, and the monkey, Mr. Nilsson, had a little doll-bed in Pippi's room.

I think everything else about Pippi you will have to learn by meeting her, if she comes.

It must be a little scary to be packing up your suitcase and driving all the way across Sweden to meet someone the grown-ups keep talking about when you're not even sure whether this mysterious person is going to show up. I will let you in on a secret: it is scary for us grown-ups too, and we are counting on you to help us be brave. I have drawn a little picture of us standing on the dock - it is not up to your Papa's standard, but that is you holding hands with your Papa and Mama, and I am holding your Mama's hand on the end, and the person on the boat with her hair in two braids like yours is Pippi.

See you soon,
Love,
Uncle Tommy

Tomas Settergren
aboard the Hoptoad
in port at Lisbon, Portugal

Department of Mathetmatics
Lund University
Sölvegatan 18
Lund

16th July 196-

Dear Sirs,

I have been called away abruptly due to a family affair and do not expect to return in time for the fall term, if at all. My course materials are in the brown filing cabinet, second drawer, if my replacement would find them of use. However, I have recently concluded that their methodology is misguided and am writing up a new pedagogical theory as time permits, under the working title "Pluttification for Pirates: Student-Led Mathematics Acquisition". I'll send the department a copy when it is complete.

Sincerely,
Tomas Settergren

Viveka
the Hoptoad
At See

Mr. and Mrs. Settergren
Resedagatan 30
Göteborg

8th October 196-

Dear Mor-Mor and Mor-Phar Settergren,

I like it alot heer. On the Spink. That is our boat. Pippi is a funy lady. She is prity strong all tho she will not wressel my Papa so I don't know he mite be stronger. She can beet Uncle Tommy like nothing tho. We had a laffing contest yesterday and I laffd very loud and long but Mama and Uncle Tommy laffd longer and louder but Pippi laffd the longest and loudest of everybody. I think they herd it in China. Papa was laffing too hard to be in the laffing contest which Pippi says is a pairadoks. Pippi and the first mate Moana are teeching me to do a dance called the haka that they do heer in the South Sees and to resite my jeeneeolojical story called a whakapapa. You are in it and Phar-Phar and Gustav Vasa and the Vikings and Pippi. The whakapapa is a Maori tradishun wich is the people heer on the ilands like Kurrekurredut. Pippi says they wer very kind to her and now they are fiting for their culchur and she is suporting them like ther is a protest in New Zeeland next month and the Spink is going to take some people ther from the ilands so they can protest. But Pippi says we are going to Ostraylea first and I will like the kangdaroos. We have just been to Kurrekurredut and you shoud probably send our letters ther care of the Rarotonga central post because the Ostraylean dingoes are known to eat letters. Did you know they ate all the letters Pippi and Mama and Uncle Tommy wrote to each other for twenty yeers, those bad dingoes. Forshunatly Pippi and Mama and Uncle Tommy remember wat was in all those letters and they are reel good at telling those storys to eech other. Espeshully Pippi.

Love,
Viveka Windowshade Perandannikasdotter Lendqvist

P.S. Pippi let me have one of her middel names since she has so many, and since she said it wasn't spelld rite anyways.

P.P.S.S. I know lots of the words are spelld diffirant in this letter than how we spell them at home, but Pippi says that since she is Captain of the Spink she has the final word on orfografic convenshuns wile abord, and I do not want her to leeve me in Ostraylea. Although I do not think she really would.