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Karlsson on the Roof

From the street below came the pop-pop-pop of a motorbike, and when that noise died away, a horse clattered past with a cart behind it, and every clop of the horse’s hoofs could be heard on the roof.

“If people only knew what fun it is to walk on the roof, there wouldn’t be a single person left in the street,” said Eric. “Oh, this is super fun!”

“Yes, and it’s exciting, too,” said Karlsson. “Because you can very easily fall down. I’ll show you a few places where you nearly fall every time.”

The houses were built so close together that you could walk from one roof to the next. There were many queer little projections, and attics, and chimneys, and nooks and crannies, so it was never boring. And it certainly was exciting, as Karlsson had said, because now and then you very nearly did fall down. In one place there was quite a wide gap between two houses, and it was in just such a place that Eric almost fell. But Karlsson caught hold of him at the last moment when one of his legs had already begun to slide over the edge of the roof.

“Good fun, isn’t it?” said Karlsson as he hauled Eric up again. “That’s just what I meant. Do it again!”

But Eric said he would rather not do it again. It was a little too close for him. There were several places where you had to cling with arms and legs to avoid falling, and Karlsson wanted Eric to have as much fun as possible, so he did not always take him by the easiest route.

“I think we ought to play some tricks,” said Karlsson. “I generally stroll around on the roofs in the evening, playing little tricks on the people who live in all these attic rooms.”

“What do you do?” asked Eric.

“I play different tricks on different people, of course. Never the same trick twice. The World’s Best Tricker—guess who that is!”

At that instant a little child began to cry nearby. Eric had heard the crying before, but then it had stopped. The child had taken a rest, he supposed. Now it started again, and the crying came from the nearest attic. It was such a sad and forlorn sound.

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