Karlsson on the Roof
Eric’s mother and father sometimes went for a walk in the evenings; Mommy called from the hall, “Good-by for now! Bridget and Christopher can stay until eight o’clock, and then you’re to go straight to bed, Eric. I’ll come and say good night later.”
They heard the hall door slam.
“She didn’t say how long I could stay,” said Karlsson, pouting. “It’s not fair, and I’m going home now.”
“You can stay as long as you like,” said Eric.
Karlsson pouted more than ever. “Why shouldn’t I be turned out at eight o’clock like other people?” said Karlsson. “I’m going …”
“I’ll ask Mommy to turn you out at eight o’clock,” said Eric quickly. “What game shall we play?”
Suddenly Karlsson’s bad temper was gone. “Let’s play ghost and frighten the life out of people,” he said. “You’ve no idea what I can do with only a small sheet. If they’d given me a penny for everyone that I’ve frightened to death, I could have bought a vast amount of toffee. I’m the World’s Best Ghost,” said Karlsson, his eyes shining with fun.
Eric, Bridget, and Christopher wanted very much to play ghost, but Eric said, “We don’t have to be too terribly frightening, do we?”
“Calm, be calm!” said Karlsson. “You don’t have to teach the World’s Best Ghost anything about ghostliness. I shall only frighten them to death a little. They’ll hardly notice it.” Karlsson went over to Eric’s bed and pulled away the top sheet. “This’ll do fine for a smart little ghost-suit,” he said.
In the drawer of Eric’s writing desk he found a piece of charcoal and with it he sketched a ghastly ghost face on the sheet. Then he took Eric’s scissors and, before Eric could stop him, cut two holes for eyes.
“A sheet … it’s a small matter,” said Karlsson. “A ghost has got to see; otherwise it could flutter off and land in Burma or anywhere.”
He threw the sheet over his head like a monk’s robe; his chubby little hands stuck out at the sides. Although the children knew that it was only Karlsson under the sheet, they were still frightened, and Joffa started barking fiercely.