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Karlsson on the Roof

“Only when I’m smoking a cigar.”

Eric, Bridget, and Christopher nearly jumped. It sounded exactly as if the puppy was talking. But Eric imagined it must be Karlsson who was up to some trick. He was glad of that because he wanted an ordinary dog and not one that could talk.

“Please, Nicholson,” said Karlsson, “won’t you tell all our friends—and Jack—a little about a dog’s life?”

“Certainly,” said Nicholson.

And he began to tell a story.

“I was at the movies the other night,” he said, jumping playfully around Karlsson’s legs.

“Oh, so you went to the movies?” said Karlsson.

“Yes, and there were two dog fleas sitting next to me,” said Nicholson.

“There were, were there?” said Karlsson.

“Yes, and when we got out into the street afterward I heard one of the fleas saying to the other, ‘Shall we walk home, or shall we go by dog?’ ”

The children all thought it was a good performance, even though there had not been much magic. Only Jack sat there, looking superior.

“Tell him to bake some cakes!” he said scornfully.

“Would you like to bake some cakes, Nicholson?” said Karlsson.

Nicholson yawned and lay down on the floor. “I can’t,” he said.

“Haha, just what I thought,” said Jack.

“I haven’t got any baking powder at home,” said Nicholson.

All the children liked Nicholson very much. But Jack foolishly went on, “Let him fly, then, instead. You don’t need any baking powder for that.”

“Would you like to fly, Nicholson?” asked Karlsson.

Nicholson seemed to be asleep, but he did answer when Karlsson spoke to him. “Oh, I wouldn’t mind flying,” he said, “but you’ll have to come with me, because I’ve promised my mother not to take off alone.”

“Come along then, little Nicholson,” said Karlsson, lifting the puppy in his arms.

A second later they were flying, Karlsson and Nicholson. First they rose toward the ceiling and circled around the light twice, then they shot straight out of the window. At this even Jack went pale with astonishment.

The children all rushed to the window and stood there watching Karlsson and Nicholson float over the rooftops.

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Category: Arabic folktales
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