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Karlsson on the Roof

He was wearing Eric’s father’s top hat, and from his shoulders hung Mommy’s checked apron, the strings tied under his chin in a neat bow. The apron was intended to be one of those black cloaks that magicians wear.

All clapped their hands except Jack. Karlsson bowed, looking very pleased with himself. Then he raised his top hat, as magicians do, to show that it was empty.

“Take a look, ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “There’s nothing in it, not a thing.”

I expect he’ll make a rabbit come out of the hat, thought Eric. He had once seen a magician do this. It will be funny to see Karlsson make a rabbit appear, he thought.

“As I was saying … there’s nothing in it,” said Karlsson in a gloomy voice. “And there isn’t going to be anything in it, either, if you don’t put something in,” he continued. “I can see a lot of greedy little children in front of me, eating toffees. We are now going to pass the hat around for everyone to put another toffee in it. It’s for a Very Deserving Charity.”

Eric passed the hat, and soon there was quite a pile of toffees in it. He handed the hat to Karlsson. “It rattles suspiciously,” said Karlsson, giving the hat a shake. “If it was full of toffees, it wouldn’t rattle at all.”

He stuffed one of the toffees into his mouth and began to chew. “It certainly tastes good,” he said, munching contentedly.

Jack had not put a single toffee into the hat, although he had a whole bag full.

“Well, my dear young friends … and Jack,” said Karlsson. “You see before you the Clever Dog Nicholson—the dog who can do anything: telephone, fly, bake cakes, talk, scratch his ears … anything!”

At that moment the little poodle actually sat down beside Jack’s chair and started to scratch his ear.

“You see! I’m not exaggerating,” said Karlsson. “This dog can really do anything.”

“Rot!” said Jack. “Any dog can do that. But make him talk; not quite so easy, eh? Haha!”

Karlsson turned toward the puppy. “D’you find it difficult to talk, Nicholson?”

“Not at all,” said Nicholson.

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