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Karlsson on the Roof

Don’t you realize that?”

“Yes, but all the same, Karlsson is the World’s Best Steam Engineer,” said Eric, looking solemnly at his mother. He had to make her understand that you could not say No when the World’s Best Steam Engineer offered to start your steam engine.

“You must take responsibility for your actions, Eric,” said Daddy, “and not blame someone called Karlsson-on-the-Roof, who does not exist.”

“He does exist,” said Eric.

“And he can fly, too, I suppose,” said Bobby sarcastically.

“What if he can!” said Eric. “I hope he’ll come back. Then you’ll see for yourself.”

“I sure hope he comes tomorrow,” said Betty. “I’ll give you a dime, Eric, if you let me see Karlsson-on-the-Roof.”

“I don’t think he’ll come tomorrow,” said Eric, “because he’s due to go into a garage for servicing.”

“It seems to me you need a good servicing, too,” said Mommy. “Just look at that bookshelf!”

“ ‘It’s a small matter,’ says Karlsson.”

Eric spread his hand in a superior manner, exactly as Karlsson had done, as though to say to his mother that talking about the bookshelf was a lot of fuss over nothing. But she was not impressed.

“So that’s what Karlsson says, is it? Well, you may tell Karlsson for me that if he puts his nose in here again I shall give him such a servicing that he won’t forget it in a hurry,” she said.

Eric did not answer. He thought it was terrible that Mommy could speak like that about the World’s Best Steam Engineer. But what could you expect on a day like this when it was clear that they had all made up their minds to be as difficult as possible?

Eric suddenly longed for Karlsson: Karlsson who was merry and cheerful and who spread his fingers and said that misfortunes simply were not worth bothering about. Eric longed for Karlsson very much; and at the same time he felt rather worried. Supposing Karlsson never came back!

“Calm, be calm!” said Eric to himself, just like Karlsson. He had promised to return, hadn’t he? And he was a man whom you could trust: there was no doubt about that.

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