I'm struggling to parse this sentence. In particular I don't understand which verb the を in bold is marking the object of.
We have: にわかに目をキラキラさせ始めた友蔵 "Tomozou whose eyes suddenly began to sparkle" is the object.
前に "in front of Tomozou..."
さすがのおかあさんも...珍しく口ごもった "Even mother (as she is) unusually, hesitated to say..."
Now I get confused. There is no と to mark what it is that she hesitated to say. Instead we have an adverbial phrase, which I think is:
物は必要ないとは言いにくいらしく "seemingly difficult to say that such a thing is unnecessary"
On second thoughts, perhaps this is the linking form 言いにくいらしくて rather than adverbial.
So I get something like:
Even for (someone like) mother it seemed to be difficult to say in front of Tomozou that such a thing was unnecessary and, unusually, she hesitated to say it.
That seems to make sense but I still can't figure out the function of the を in bold. I fear I've messed something up here.
Please help me to parse this sentence correctly and understand the を in bold.