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Karlsson on the Roof

“What’s all the fuss about, then?” said Karlsson. “That’s the one you’ve got, isn’t it?”

Eric wondered once more if this was what Mommy meant by a “sensible discussion.”

But Eric never stayed in a huff for long. Anyway, it was a good thing that Karlsson no longer had a temperature. Karlsson thought so, too.

“I shall write and tell all the doctors what’s good for a temperature. ‘Try Karlsson-on-the-Roof’s Cure-All Medicine,’ I’ll write. ‘The World’s Best Medicine for a temperature.’ ”

Eric had not eaten his toffee yet. It looked so tasty and chewy that he wanted to take a good look at it first. Once you started to eat it, it was soon gone.

Karlsson looked at Eric’s toffee, too. He looked at it for a long time; then he put his head to one side and said, “I bet you I can make your toffee vanish without your seeing how I do it.”

“ ’Course you can’t,” said Eric. “Not if I stand here with it in my hand, looking at it all the time.”

“Shall we bet?” said Karlsson.

“No,” said Eric. “I know I shall win, and then you’ll want the toffee….” Eric felt in his bones that this was the wrong way to do it. This was not how he and Betty and Bobby betted.

“But we can bet the ordinary, proper way, so that the one who wins gets the toffee,” said Eric.

“Just as you like, you greedy little boy,” said Karlsson. “I bet that I can make your toffee disappear without your noticing it.”

“All right,” said Eric.

“Hokus pokus filiokus,” said Karlsson, seizing the toffee. “Hokus pokus filiokus,” he said, putting it into his mouth.

“Stop!” cried Eric. “I did see you making it disappear….”

“Did you?” said Karlsson, swallowing quickly. “Then you’ve won again. I never saw such a boy for winning all the bets.”

“Yes … but … the toffee,” said Eric, quite confused. “The winner was to get the toffee.”

“Yes, true enough,” said Karlsson. “But I’ve made the toffee disappear, and I bet I can’t make it appear again.”

Eric said nothing. But he thought that as soon as he saw Mommy he would tell her that sensible discussions were not a bit of good when you wanted to decide who was right.

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