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Karlsson on the Roof

“I can’t stand injustice,” he said. “I’m going into the sitting room, no matter what.”

And the tent began to walk toward the door. Eric was forced to go, too. A chubby little hand reached out and grasped the doorknob, opening the door very quietly and cautiously. The tent walked out into the hall, which was separated from the sitting room only by a heavy curtain.

“Calm, be calm!” whispered Karlsson. And without a single sound, the tent glided across the hall floor and stopped at the curtain. The talking could now be heard more clearly, but not so clearly that you could distinguish any words. They had not turned on the sitting-room lamp. Betty and her Roger were evidently content with the faint twilight from outside.

“Good,” whispered Karlsson. “Then our light will show up all the better.” But for the present he had the light switched off, “Because we’re going to arrive as a delightful surprise,” whispered Karlsson, smiling contentedly under the blanket.

Slowly, slowly the tent glided forward from behind the curtain. Betty and Roger were sitting on the small couch by the opposite wall. Slowly, slowly the tent moved in their direction.

“I like you, Betty,” Eric heard a boy’s husky voice saying. What a fool he must be, that Roger!

“Do you?” said Betty, and there was silence again.

Like a dark hillock the tent glided across the floor. Slowly and surely it went toward the couch—nearer and nearer it moved; now it was only a few feet away, but the two sitting there neither heard nor saw it.

“Do you like me?” asked Betty’s Roger, shyly.

He never had an answer, for at this very moment the sharp beam from the pocket light cut across the gray shadows of the room and shone right in his face. He sprang up, and Betty gave a cry; there was a burst of giggling and the sound of hasty shuffling feet, retreating in the direction of the hall.

You cannot see anything when you have just been blinded by a light. But you can hear. And Betty and Roger heard the laughter—mischievous, delighted laughter that seemed to bubble from the direction of the curtain.

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