Bobby and the Big Road  by Maud Lindsay

The Ox‑Wagon Man

B OBBY, and Father and Mother could often tell what was coming along the Big Road before they saw it, because of the sound it made.

Rumble, jumble, that meant a heavy wagon. Honk! honk! called the automobiles. Ting-a-ling, rang the bicycle bells. Clippety-clap, here came a galloping horse.

But one day as Bobby and Mother sat out on the porch they heard something that puzzled both of them. Cr-eakCr-eakCr-eak!

"It sounds like rusty chains to me," said Mother.

"Oh, yes!" said Bobby. "Like the chain in the well at Grandmother's."

"I guess it is a moving-van," called Father, coming to the door to listen.

"I guess it is a wheelbarrow," said Mother.

"I guess it is," began Bobby, but before he could say what he thought it was, cre-ak, cre-ak, there it was in sight at last.

"Why it is an ox-wagon!" said Mother. "When did I ever see such a thing before?"

The ox-wagon had great heavy wheels that creaked at every turn. It was drawn by two sleepy-eyed oxen. They were fastened together by a big wooden collar that Father said was called a yoke.

The driver walked beside the oxen with a long whip in his hand, but he did not strike the oxen with it. He only cracked it in the air above their heads. It made a loud noise but the oxen plodded along as if they had not heard it, so far as Bobby could tell. You would have thought they had all day in which to get to town.

When the driver wanted the oxen to turn to the right he called "Gee!" and when he wanted them to turn to the left he said "Haw!" And the oxen did just what he told them to do.

The ox-wagon man had kindling-wood to sell and Father bought it from him. While he was throwing it into the wood-house he told Bobby the names of the oxen. One was Buck and one was Bright.

Bobby began to feel very much at home on the Big Road now that he knew the ox-wagon man and the oxen. After this he watched for them every day.