The Earthquake

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, and he lived in a nice, tidy wombat hole with his mother, and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One day Benson was shopping with his mother when Aunt Moss came hurrying up. “There’s going to be an earthquake! We have to go home at once!”

Benson’s mother said, “How do you know there’s going to be an earthquake?”

Benson said, “What’s an earthquake?”

“It’s a disturbance in the seismic forces of the universe,” said Aunt Moss.

“Sometimes the ground under our feet shakes,” said Benson’s mother. “Sometimes it shakes a little bit, and sometimes it shakes a lot.”

Aunt Lillibet came running up. “I can feel it!” she exclaimed. “I can feel the ground shaking. Can’t you feel it?”

Benson’s mother said, “I think we need to go home, now.” She took Benson’s hand and they hurried home as fast as they could.

When they got home, there was a giant yellow digger and a great big hole where their wombat hole used to be.

“But that’s where we live!” said Benson. “That’s our home!”

“It’s a disgrace! It’s a tragedy! It’s a disaster!” said Lillibet.

“What about my books?” said Benson.

“We can always get more books,” said his mother. “There’s the library for that.”

“What about my clothes?” he said.

“Never mind about your clothes, I’m just grateful we weren’t home when it happened,” his mother said.

“Where are we going to live?” said Benson.

“Benson, I’m surprised at you,” his mother said. “We’re wombats. We’ll dig.”

Moss suddenly started to cry. “The turtles!” she sobbed.

“What about the turtles?” Benson’s mother said.

“They were in the bath! I know you told me not to leave them in the bathtub, but I thought they would like a little treat.” She sobbed and sobbed.

Benson’s mother looked out over the enormous hole. “The bathroom would have been right over the other end,” she said. “Maybe it’s not too late. Come on, Benson.”

Benson followed his mother over to the far side of the hole. It was bigger than a swimming pool, bigger than the river.

“Here,” his mother said. “Now dig!” They dug as hard as they could, fast and strong as wombats can. In a minute, Benson’s mother said, “I can feel something.” They dug around carefully, and there was the bath. Buried in the dirt in the bath were three turtles. They waved their little feet and shook the dirt out of their faces.

“Oh, my dears!” Aunt Moss said. She gathered them up in her apron and carried them off safely to wash them in the creek.

Aunt Lillibet said, “Well, that’s one good thing.”

Benson’s mother said, “No, it’s a very good thing!” She smiled at Benson and she gave him a big hug. “That was some excellent digging, my son. Come on, let’s go and look for a place to dig our new home.”

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