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Karlsson on the Roof

Otherwise they did not always have time to listen. It was fun, too, hearing Betty and Bobby teasing each other and talking importantly about school. Their school was evidently different, and a more important kind than the grade school that Eric attended. He longed to tell them all about his school, but no one except Mommy and Daddy was interested in what happened there. Bobby and Betty only laughed, and Eric was careful to avoid saying anything that would make Bobby and Betty laugh in that annoying way. There was not much use in their trying to tease him; he was an expert at teasing back—you had to be with a brother like Bobby and a sister like Betty.

“Well, Eric, was your homework done properly for today?” asked Mommy.

This was not the kind of talk that Eric liked, but since Mommy had said nothing about that lump of sugar, he had better put up with her questioning, he supposed.

“Oh, yes, my homework was all correct,” he answered glumly.

All the time he was thinking of Karlsson. How could anybody expect him to remember about his homework when he was wondering what had happened to Karlsson?

“What did you have for homework?” asked Daddy.

Eric was annoyed. Why couldn’t they stop talking about school? You did not sit cozily in front of the fire so people could talk about homework.

“The nine times-table,” said Eric briefly. “The whole of it, and I know it—nine times one, and then come all the rest.”

He took another lump of sugar and thought about Karlsson again. No matter how their talk buzzed around him, Eric only thought about Karlsson and wondered if he would see him again.

It was Betty who roused him out of his daydreams.

“Eric, wake up! Would you like to earn a nickel?”

Slowly it dawned on Eric what she was saying. He had no objection to earning five cents, but it all depended on what Betty wanted him to do.

“A nickel’s not enough,” he said without hesitation. “The cost of living’s gone up. What do you think a ten-cent ice cream costs, for instance?”

“Well, I’ll guess,” said Betty with a twinkle in her eye.

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