Bobby and the Big Road  by Maud Lindsay

The Mouth‑Organ

T HOUGH Bobby watched for the ox-wagon man every day, it was not until the next week that he spied him coming down the road. He was walking beside the oxen with his whip in his hand, Buck and Bright were plodding along just as if they had all day for their journey, and the wagon wheels were cr-eak, cr-eak, cr-eaking like rusty chains.

"Good morning," called Bobby when they all got to his gate.


"Good morning," called Bobby.

"Good morning," said the ox-wagon man. "I don't suppose your ma wants any kindling-wood to-day."

"No, indeed," said Bobby. "We haven't used even half of what we bought the other day; but when that is gone we'll be sure to want some."

"Well," said the ox-wagon man, "I'll sell this kindling in town, and then I'll have to buy something for Johnny, I guess."

"Who's Johnny?" asked Bobby.

"Johnny's my little chap," said the ox-wagon man. "He's a little bigger than you but he's lame. He can't get around without crutches. 'Most every time I sell kindling in town I buy him something."

"What are you going to get him to-day?" asked Bobby.

"I haven't fully made up my mind," said the ox-wagon man. "What would you get if you were in my place?"

"You might get him a whistle," said Bobby.

But Johnny had a whistle.

"He made it himself out of a piece of willow. He's the handiest little fellow about whittling that I ever did see, though I do say it myself," said the ox-wagon man.

"A ball," suggested Bobby.

"Johnny's got a ball. He made it himself out of string, and his ma sewed it round and round so it would hold. You just ought to see Johnny throw that ball, and Towser—that's his yellow dog—bring it back to him. Johnny's got plenty of fun in him," said the ox-wagon man.

"He might like a flag," said Bobby.

"His ma's pieced him a flag long ago," said the ox-wagon man. "He keeps it hanging at the door and he, and his ma, and I salute when we go in. Johnny thinks a heap of his flag."

"Perhaps you'll see something in the stores when you get to town that you think he will like," said Bobby politely. "And perhaps if I am out here when you come back you'll show me what you have bought."

"I'll call you," promised the ox-wagon man, cracking his whip high in the air as he spoke.

Plod, plod, and creak, creak! Bobby thought the oxen would never, never get the load of kindling-wood to town, and never, never get back.

But late in the afternoon just before the sun went down, he heard the wagon coming, and ran out to the gate before the ox-wagon man could call him.

"What did you get for Johnny?" he asked.

"A mouth-organ," said the ox-wagon man, taking it out of his pocket to show to Bobby.

Bobby had always called a mouth-organ a French harp, but no matter what it was called he thought it was just the present for Johnny.