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Karlsson on the Roof

“I don’t mind betting,” said Karlsson. “You mix a double dose! When it’s a matter of temperature you shouldn’t leave a stone unturned. We can try!”

Eric mixed a double dose of the medicine and ladled it into Karlsson, who willingly gaped and swallowed all of it.

Then they sat still and waited. After half a minute Karlsson leaped out of bed, beaming with joy. “A miracle has happened!” he shouted. “My temperature’s gone! You’ve won again. Hand me the bar of chocolate!”

Eric sighed and handed over the last bar. Karlsson looked at him disapprovingly.

“Sourpusses like you should never bet,” he said, “but only people like me who walk around like little rays of sunshine whether we win or lose.”

There was silence for a time, except for the noise of Karlsson munching chocolate. Then he said, “But since you’re such a greedy little boy, I suppose we’d better share the rest like brothers. Have you got any candies left?”

Eric felt in his pocket. “Three,” he said and took out two toffees and a gumdrop.

“Three?” said Karlsson. “You can’t halve three, even a two-year-old knows that.”

He took the gumdrop from Eric’s outstretched hand and quickly devoured it.

“But now we can,” he said.

Then he looked at the two toffees with hungry eyes. One of them was a fraction bigger than the other.

“Kind and considerate as I am, I will give you first choice,” said Karlsson. “But you do know, don’t you, that when you’re allowed to choose first, you must take the smaller,” he continued, looking sternly at Eric.

Eric thought for a moment.

“I want you to choose first,” he said cleverly.

“Well, since you insist,” said Karlsson, grabbing the bigger toffee, which he quickly put into his mouth.

Eric looked at the small toffee which was left in his hand.

“Look here, I thought you said that the first to choose should take the smaller …”

“Listen to me, you little pig,” said Karlsson. “If you had been the first to choose, which would you have taken?”

“I would have taken the smaller, I really would,” said Eric seriously.

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