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Karlsson on the Roof

“What’s Joffa next to Karlsson-on-the-Roof?” I’ll say.

And yet—there was nothing in the world that Eric longed for so much as to have a dog of his own.

Karlsson interrupted his thoughts.

“I feel like having some fun,” he said, and looked around searchingly. “Have you got another steam engine?”

Eric shook his head. The steam engine … hmm! Well, Karlsson was here; Mommy and Daddy could see that he really did exist—and Bobby and Betty, too, if they were home.

“Will you come along to meet Mommy and Daddy?” asked Eric.

“Delighted,” said Karlsson. “It’ll be a treat for them to meet such a wise and handsome fellow as I!”

Karlsson strutted back and forth across the floor, looking very pleased with himself.

“Not too fat and not too thin, either,” he added. “A Man in his Prime. It’ll be a treat for your Mommy to meet me.”

At this precise moment the first faint smell of cooking reached Eric’s nose from the kitchen, and he knew that very soon now it would be dinnertime. Eric decided to wait until after dinner before he introduced Karlsson to Mommy and Daddy. It is never good policy to disturb mothers when they are cooking. Besides, Mommy or Daddy might take it into their heads to talk to Karlsson about the steam engine and the stain on the bookshelf. And that must be prevented. While they were having dinner Eric could probably, in a tactful way, make his parents realize how one should behave toward the World’s Best Steam Engineer. All he needed was a little time. After dinner—yes, then it would be all right; and he would take the whole family to his room.

“There you are!” he would say. “Here’s Karlsson-on-the-Roof.” How astonished they would be; it was going to be fun seeing their surprise!

Karlsson had stopped his pacing. He was standing motionless, sniffing like a setter.

“Meatballs!” he said. “Tasty little meatballs I like ver-ry much.”

Eric felt rather embarrassed. There was really only one thing you could say in answer to that: Will you stay and have dinner with us? That’s what he ought to say.

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