“The whole world is full of things and there’s a crying need for someone to find them. And that’s just what a thing-finder does.”

“What shall we do now?’ Tommy asked.

‘I don’t know what you’re thinking of doing,’ Pippi said. ‘But I’m not the kind to put my feet up. I am, in fact, a thing-finder, and thing-finders never get a minute’s rest.’

‘What did you say you were?’ asked Annika.

‘A thing-finder.’

‘What’s that?’ asked Tommy.

‘Someone who finds things, of course! What else could it be?’ said Pippi, as she swept all the flour on the floor into a small pile. ‘The whole world is full of things and there’s a crying need for someone to find them. And that’s just what a thing-finder does.’

‘What kind of things?’ asked Annika.

‘Oh, all sorts,’ said Pippi. ‘Clumps of gold, ostrich feathers, dead rats, teeny-weeny nuts and boltsStuff like that.’

Tommy and Annika thought it sounded good fun and they really wanted to be thing-finders too. Although Tommy said he’d rather find a clump of gold than a dead rat.

‘We’ll have to see what turns up,’ said Pippi. ‘Something always does. But let’s get a move on in case any other thing-finders come along and make off with all the clumps of gold around here.’

The three thing-finders set off. They thought it was best to start looking among the houses close by, because Pippi said that even if it was perfectly possible to find a little nail or bolt in the middle of a forest, the best things were actually found close to where people lived. 

‘But on the other hand,’ she said. ‘I have seen examples of quite the opposite. I remember the time I was looking for things in the jungles of Borneo. Right in the very middle of the rain forest, where no-one had ever set foot before, what do you think I found? I’ll tell you: a very fine wooden leg. I gave it away later to an old man with only one leg, and he said you couldn’t buy such a fine wooden leg even if you had heaps of money.’

Tommy and Annika watched Pippi closely to see how a thing-finder behaved. Pippi ran from one side of the road to the other, shaded her eyes with her hand, and looked and looked. Sometimes she crawled on her knees, stuck her hand through fences and said disappointedly:

‘Odd! I was absolutely sure I saw a clump of gold.’

‘Can we really take everything we find?’ asked Annika.

‘Yes, everything that’s lying on the ground,’ said Pippi. 

Further down the road an elderly gent was sleeping on the lawn outside his house.

‘He’s lying on the ground,’ Pippi said. ‘And we’ve found him. Let’s have ‘im!’

Tommy and Annika were flabbergasted.

‘No, no, Pippi, we can’t take an old man, we just can’t.’ said Tommy.  ‘What do we want him for, anyway?’

‘What do we want him for? We could use him for lots of things. We could put him in a little rabbit hutch instead of a rabbit and feed him dandelion leaves. But if you’d rather not, well, that’s fine by me. But it really annoys me to think another thing-finder might come along and pinch him. ‘

They walked on. All of a sudden Pippi gave an ear-splitting yell.

‘Oh, I’ve never seen anything like this!’ she shouted, picking up a rusty old tin from the grass. ‘What a find! What a find! You can never have too many tins.’ 

Tommy looked at the tin doubtfully and said:

‘What can you use that for?’

‘Oh, you can use it for lots of things,’ Pippi said. ‘You could put biscuits in it, for one thing. Then it would be one of those nice Tins For Biscuits. On the other hand, you don’t have to put biscuits in it, and then it will be one of Tins Not For Biscuits. It’s not quite so nice, mind you, but that’s all right too.’

She studied the tin, which really was very rusty indeed and also had a hole in the bottom.

‘This almost looks as if it’s a Tin Not For Biscuits,’ she said thoughtfully. ‘But you can always plonk it over your head and pretend it’s the middle of the night.’

So she did. With the tin over her head she walked along like a little metal tower and didn’t stop until she fell over a fence and onto her stomach. There was loud crash as the tin hit the ground.

‘There, you see,’ said Pippi, taking off the tin. ‘If I hadn’t had that on my head I would have fallen flat on my face and bashed myself stupid.’    

‘But,’ said Annika. ‘If you hadn’t had the tin on your head you wouldn’t have tripped over the fence in the first place.’

Just as Annika finished speaking Pippi gave another yelp and triumphantly held up an empty cotton reel.

‘It must be my lucky day today,’ she said. ‘Such a dear, sweet little cotton reel to blow bubbles with or hang on a piece of string and have as a necklace! I want to go home and do it this very minute.”

(Excerpt from the book Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren)