Karlsson on the Roof
The last thing he saw as he turned around in the doorway was Karlsson, sitting on the floor, singing happily to himself, “Hooray, how clever I am … hooray, how sensible I am … and just plump enough … hmm!”
The last part was hummed a second after he had swallowed the fourth meatball.
Mommy and Daddy, Betty and Bobby were already sitting at the table. Eric slipped into his place and unfolded his napkin.
“Promise me something, Mommy—and you, too, Daddy,” he said.
“What do you want us to promise?” asked Mommy.
“Promise first,” said Eric.
Daddy was rather reluctant to make a vague promise. “Who knows? Perhaps you want me to give you a dog again,” he said.
“No, it isn’t a dog,” said Eric, “though I wouldn’t mind if you promised me one. No, it’s something else, and it’s easy. Promise that you promise!”
“Very well, we promise,” said Mommy.
“All right. Now you’ve promised not to say anything to Karlsson-on-the-Roof about the steam engine,” said Eric, pleased.
“Ha,” said Betty. “How could they say anything to Karlsson when they never see him?”
“They will,” said Eric triumphantly. “After dinner. He’s in my room.”
“Gosh, I think a meatball got stuck in my throat,” said Bobby. “Karlsson’s in your room, did you say?”
“He certainly is.”
This was the hour of triumph for Eric. If only they would hurry up and finish eating, then they would see …
Mommy smiled a little.
“It will be a pleasure for us to meet Karlsson,” she said.
“That’s what Karlsson said, too,” Eric told her.
At last they had finished dessert. Mommy rose from the table. This was the great moment.
“Come along, all of you,” said Eric.
“You don’t have to ask us twice,” said Betty. “I can’t wait to see Karlsson.”
Eric went on ahead.
“Remember what you promised,” he said before he opened the door to his room. “Not a word about the steam engine!”
Then he turned the handle and opened the door.
Karlsson was gone. Karlsson was gone. There was not even a fat little lump underneath the blankets in Eric’s bed.
But in the middle of the floor there rose, out of the medley of building blocks, a tower—a very tall and very thin tower.