Karlsson on the Roof
“What a baby you are, Eric, imagining things. Who would think you’re eight years old! How old are you really?”
“I’m a Man in his Prime,” said Eric with dignity. “And so is Karlsson.”
The day seemed to pass at a snail’s pace. Now it was quite “later,” but he still saw no sign of any more presents.
At last he did have another. Bobby and Betty came home from school. They shut themselves in Bobby’s room and would not let Eric in. He heard them giggling and paper rustling. Eric was bursting with curiosity.
After a long time they came out, and Betty laughingly handed him a package. Eric was thrilled and wanted to tear the paper off at once. But Bobby said, “You’ve got to read the verse on it first.”
They had used large capital letters to make it easy for Eric to read, and it said:
Big sister, big brother, kinder than you thought,
For little brother’s birthday, an animal have bought.
This little velvet poodle dog is good and soft and round,
He does not jump up high and bark; he never makes a sound.
Eric stood absolutely still.
“Open it, then!” said Bobby. But Eric threw the package on the floor, and tears gushed from his eyes.
“But Eric! Whatever’s the matter?” cried Betty.
“Are you upset?” asked Bobby unhappily.
Betty threw her arms around Eric.
“Oh, please forgive us—it was only a joke.”
Eric broke away sharply. Tears were streaming down his cheeks.
“But you knew,” he sobbed, “but you knew I wanted a real dog. It wasn’t a bit funny.”
He rushed away from them to his own room and threw himself on the bed. Bobby and Betty followed him and Mommy came running. But Eric took no notice of them. He wept so that his whole body shook. His birthday was entirely spoiled. He was determined to be happy, although he was not going to have a dog; but when they came and gave him a velvet dog … His weeping rose to pitiful sobs when he thought of it, and he burrowed his face as far into the pillow as he could. Mommy, Bobby, and Betty stood by the bed, and they too were unhappy.
“I must call up Daddy and ask him to come home from the office a little earlier,” said Mommy.