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Karlsson on the Roof

You’re being beastly!”

The front doorbell rang, and a moment later Mommy called from the hall, “Eric! Bridget and Christopher are here.”

This immediately put Karlsson in a good mood again. “We’ll play some tricks on them,” he whispered to Eric. “Shut the door on me!”

Eric shut the closet door. He had no sooner done this than Bridget and Christopher came in. They lived on the same street and were in the same class at school as Eric. Eric liked Bridget very much; he would often tell Mommy how sweet-natured she was. He liked Christopher, too, and had already forgiven him for the bruise on his forehead. It often happened that he fought with Christopher, but afterward they were as good friends as ever. As a matter of fact, it was not only with Christopher that Eric got into fights: he had had fierce battles with almost all the children on the street. But he was always on good terms with Bridget.

“How is it that you never fight with Bridget?” his mother once asked him.

“ ’Cause she’s so sweet, I never need to,” said Eric.

But even Bridget could be maddening sometimes. Yesterday, when they were walking home from school, Eric had talked about Karlsson-on-the-Roof. Bridget laughed and said that Karlsson was just imagination and make-believe. Christopher agreed with her, so that Eric had been obliged to punch him. That was when Christopher had thrown the stone at Eric’s head.

But now they were here, and Christopher had Joffa with him. Because of Joffa, Eric even forgot Karlsson, who was lying on the shelf in the closet. Dogs are the nicest creatures on earth, thought Eric. Joffa jumped and barked, and Eric clung to his neck, petting him. Christopher stood, calmly watching. He knew, of course, that Joffa was his dog and nobody else’s, so he might as well let Eric pet him as much as he liked.

While Eric was busy petting Joffa, Bridget stood looking around. “Where have you got your old Karlsson-on-the-Roof?” she said, teasing him. “We thought he’d be here!”

It was not until then that Eric remembered that Karlsson was lying on the shelf in the closet.

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