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Karlsson on the Roof

But he dared not bring Karlsson to dinner without any warning. It was quite a different matter in the case of Bridget and Christopher. Then he could ask at the last moment (if he wanted to), even when the rest of the family had already sat down, “Could Bridget and Christopher possibly stay for dinner, Mommy?”

But a completely unknown, fat little man who had broken a steam engine and made stains on the bookshelf! No, it wouldn’t do at all.

But this fat little man had just said that he liked tasty little meatballs very much. It was up to Eric to see that he got them, or else perhaps Karlsson would not come and see him again. Oh, so much depended on Mommy’s meatballs!

“Wait a minute,” said Eric. “I’ll go out in the kitchen and fetch some.”

Karlsson nodded approvingly.

“Good!” he said. “Good! But hurry! You don’t get less hungry by looking at pictures—without roosters or anything in them.”

Eric darted out into the kitchen. Mommy was standing by the stove in a checked apron, surrounded by the most delicious smell of fried onions. She was shaking the big frying pan over the flame, and in the pan jostled lots and lots of nicely browned, little meatballs.

“Hello, Eric,” said Mommy. “We’re going to eat in a minute.”

“Mommy, could I have some meatballs on a saucer to take to my room?” asked Eric in his most persuasive voice.

“But we’re going to have dinner in a minute or two, darling,” said Mommy.

“Oh, please!” said Eric. “After dinner I’ll tell you why.”

“Very well,” said Mommy, “just a few then.”

She placed six meatballs on a small plate. Oh, how good they smelled and they were small and brown and round, just as they should be. Eric carried the plate carefully in both hands as he hurried back to his room.

“Look, Karlsson!” he called, opening the door.

But Karlsson had disappeared. Eric stood there with the meatballs, and Karlsson was not there. Eric was terribly disappointed—everything suddenly seemed very cheerless. “He’s gone away,” he said aloud to himself. But then …

“Squeak,” he suddenly heard a voice saying.

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