JOHN HAS AN EXCITING DAY
OHN went straight to the Fair next morning and to his place
under the tree. He reflected that a business man must
not spend the working hours in amusing himself. In a
little while he had sold the last donkey, and was
thinking which way to walk to see it all when a
gentleman came hurrying along with a little lame girl
and made signs to John that he wanted a toy for the
child. He had seen a friend with one of the delightful
donkeys and, inquiring
 where John was to be found, had dashed off to get one.
John pointed to his donkeyless basket and shook his
head. They were all gone. Then the little lame child
began to cry and the gentleman tried to soothe her, but
she only cried the louder.
Now, John had put some blocks in the heel of the basket
and had filled in all the spaces between the toys with
them, and had carried his tools too, partly because he
did not like to be separated from them so long, and
partly because he had a vague idea he might have time
to work, being gone from home so long a time.
So he signed to the gentleman to wait while he ran to
where he had seen a large chunk of wood lying the day
before. The owner allowed him to take it, and putting
it down by his basket, he
 sat on the ground behind it, and although the position
was not an easy one to work in he took one of his
blocks and began. This pleased the gentleman and the
child so much that they stayed until the toy was
finished, although John worked slowly, as usual. But it
amused the child very much to see the little chips roll
out and the formless block gradually assume the shape
of a little long-eared donkey. John finished it
carefully, not forgetting the little bunch above the
knee, and when it was done he had never made a prettier
The gentleman took it and put a silver piece in John's
hand, but when John, wondering whether all the money he
had would be enough to make change for it, looked up
with his hand in his pocket, the gentleman was gone.
"He will come back," thought John,
 and he put the money carefully away. But he did not
return that day although John waited until dark and
everybody had left the fairgrounds.
So he gathered up his things and went to the house
where he slept, determined to return to the Fair the
first thing in the morning and wait until the gentleman
The next day he was the first one on the fairgrounds,
and going directly to his place he sat down and waited.
After a while the most delicious odor came to his
nostrils, and he ran to where a woman was frying in a
little shed and bought some breakfast. Then back again
to wait. Soon, tired of doing nothing, for he could not
see much that was going in the Fair from his corner, he
took a block and set to work.
In a moment some one stopped to
 look on, and soon a crowd was gathered around him.
John in his picturesque gala dress and his nodding
eagle's plume, sitting on the ground before the log end
absorbed in cutting his block, was a sight that pleased
the people immensely, and had he only known it he had
as big a crowd pressing about him as had any show at
the Fair, except perhaps the striped clown who turned
somersaults backwards and whose dog stood on its head.
John looked up and smiled and nodded at the people once
in a while, as that was his only way of speaking. But
his honest blue eyes and his friendly freckled face
told a great deal more than many words. When finally
the donkey was quite finished he held it up to show
them, and a big man who had watched it from the
beginning suddenly snatched it
 out of his hand and began to talk very fast to the
people, who listened whit gaping mouths breaking every
now and then into roars of laughter.
Finally the man took some heavy paper, folded it and
cut it with his pocket-knife into a great many slips,
talking all the time. Then he wrote something on one of
the slips, shuffled them all together, and began to
sell them to the people for a small coin. There was
much laughing and talking, and not until the last slip
was sold did the written word appear. At this the
people grumbled a little, but he said something that
made them laugh louder than before as he handed the
donkey to the man who had bought the successful slip.
Then he took the handfuls of pennies he had taken in
and poured them on the ground at John's side.
 John sat staring at the money not knowing what to make
of it all, while the crowd cheered and laughed. At last
he tied it up in his big handkerchief and laid it in
the bottom of his basket, for he understood that for
some reason he was to keep it.
When he went back to the house where he slept that
night, he found the woman who could understand his
language and who had come to see him, and he told her
all that had happened, and how the whole day had passed
and the gentleman had not come for the change to his
"Ah, lad," she said, "you were born lucky. The
gentleman will never return. He meant to give you the
money because he was pleased with your work."
Then she advised him to go back the next day, which was
the last day of the
 Fair, and sit in his old place and carve his toys
before the people. "For they will hear of this and will
want to see it." She also advised him to leave his
money with the woman of the house so as not to lose it,
and this he gladly did.
The first comers at the Fair next morning saw John
seated before his piece of wood working away as fast as
he could. He meant to finish his blocks and sell them
that morning so as to have the afternoon to look
around, for he had stuck close to his place, coming
early and leaving late, that after that first day he
had seen very little of the Fair.
As before, a great many people came to look on, and as
fast as he finished a block somebody bought it, so that
early in the afternoon he was free.
Taking his empty basket on his back
 he began to walk around and was surprised to see how
the Fair had grown since the first day. There were
nearly twice as many booths set up, and some of them
held very fine things. He stopped before one and picked
out a beautiful red shawl for his mother, and at
another he got a pair of felt shoes for Angelica, and
for his father a pair of sheep shears which he very
much needed. All these he put in his basket.
Then he wandered out to the end of the fairground where
he had not been before, and there he discovered the
John's eyes almost popped out of his head at sight of
all those swinging chairs and prancing horses flying so
smoothly around with people sitting in them and on
their backs. He had heard of the merry-go-round, but it
 very little meaning to him, because he had never seen
anything at all like it in the mountains.
It certainly was a magic thing, that! And the
music!—how gay and glorious it all was! As he stood
looking, the music stopped with a crash and the
wonderful swinging circle came to a standstill. The
people on it climbed down and others took their places.
Then the music started up as suddenly as it had
stopped, the gay thing began to swing around faster and
faster until the riders fairly flew past him and made
his head whirl. He stood leaning on his staff and
staring with round eyes and open mouth until some one
nudged his elbow and motioned to him to go and get in,
for again it had come to a stand-still, and the people
who were in were tumbling out and others taking their
 places; but he only smiled and shook his head, for he
could not take his basket with him, and he could not
Then he saw a boy standing near who was watching the
merry-go-round with a longing heart.
"Since I cannot go myself," said John, "I will send
this boy," and he bought a ticket for two cents and
gave it to the boy. Then he stood and watched the boy
climb astride one of the big wooden horses and then
clutch the rod in front. The band struck up a lively
air, the thing started, and John clutched his staff and
clenched his teeth, his eyes fastened on the boy to
whom he had given the ticket; for it was as though he
himself were perched up there about to circle around
like the geier above the Alps only a million times
faster. He imagined it felt something like flying down
the big chute
 and trembled for fear the boy should fall off. But he
did not fall, but hugged his iron rod and flashed past
John faster and faster until the machine stopped; and
he staggered down and passed John, at whom he nodded
with a broad and happy grin on his face.
John stayed so long and was so engrossed watching the
merry-go-round that the Fair closed without his even
knowing it and it began to be dark before he thought go
to home. On the way he bought a package of little cakes
to take to his mother.
When he reached the house, he found the woman from his
valley there. She seemed relieved to see him.
"Now what are you going to do tonight?" she asked.
"I am going to walk around in the town a little to see
it in the night,"
re-  plied John, for he had not done this although the
streets were lighted quite brightly and made a pretty
show. Some way he had felt a little afraid of it.
"I will tell you what to do," said the woman, kindly;
"this is the last day of the Fair, and there will be
many people about amusing themselves. Go to the square
where the church stands and sit down at one of the
tables and call for a mug of beer and some black bread
and sit still and watch the people and listen to the
music, for there is to be a concert. You will have to
buy something to eat, or else they won't allow you to
sit at the table."
"That shall be my supper," said John promptly and quite
excited at the thought.
"Yes, let it be your supper, and see that you leave
your money safe at home and don't go off with any rough
 Now mind what I say, and no harm will come of it."
John promised to do exactly as she said, and bidding
him good-bye and a safe journey home she took her
leave, but not before she had taught him how to ask in
good straight German for what he wanted when he sat
down at the table.
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