Benson and the Dragons

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a very comfortable wombat hole with his mother, and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One day after breakfast Benson said, “I’m going to look for a dragon today.”

His aunt Lillibet said, “You can’t do that. There’s no such thing as dragons. They’re only in story-books.”

Benson said, “I can still go and look.”

Benson’s mother said, “Some people call some types of lizards dragons, like water dragons and heath dragons, and mallee dragons, and even bearded dragons.”

“Do they fly, and breathe fire?” Benson asked.

“No,” his mother said. “They’re basically lizards. But they’re interesting in their own lizard-y way.”

“I was thinking of looking for the fire-breathing type.”

Aunt Moss said, “That’s so exciting! I would love to see a dragon, with its piles of treasure, and a handsome knight rescuing a beautiful princess in distress!”

Aunt Lillibet snorted. “Dragons don’t exist, Moss! It’s all fairy stories!”

Aunt Moss paid no attention to her. She said to Benson, “You must take lots of pictures. I’ll get my camera for you.” She went into her room to get her camera. Benson’s mother went into the kitchen.

Aunt Lillibet said, “If you did go hunting dragons, it would be incredibly dangerous.”

Benson said, “I’m not going to hunt them, I’m just going to look for them.”

Lillibet paid no attention to him. “You’ll need armour, and a spear, and a sword, and a helmet.” She went and got her thickest padded dressing gown and wrapped him up in it. It was way too long, and dragged on the ground behind him. She got a saucepan and plonked it on his head. The edges poked into Benson’s ears and the handle stuck out in front.

Aunt Moss came out with her camera and hung it around his neck. “Make sure you take lots of photos. And here, you’ll need this.” She gave him an old book. It had thick covers, and it was very heavy. “When you see a dragon, you have to know how to talk to it properly, or it won’t understand you. You have to say, ‘Sirrah’, and ‘Avaunt ye’, and ‘On guard’, and ‘Have at ye’, and ‘Yield, thou recreant lizard’.”

Lillibet went and got her gumboots. “Here, you’ll need to wear these to protect you from its fiery breath. Moss’s crowbar can be a spear.” She put Aunt Moss’s crowbar into his hand. It was so heavy, Benson toppled over straight away. “Moss, do you have a sword?” she said.

“No,” Aunt Moss said, “but if he sings to it sweetly, it will go to sleep and he won’t need to fight it. I’ll get my guitar for him. And a shopping bag to carry the treasure in.”

She went to her room, and came back with a guitar and a big shopping bag, and a fly-swatter. “I found this to use instead of a sword,” she said. She put the shopping bag and the fly-swatter in his other hand, and put the strap of the guitar across his shoulders.

Benson’s mother came out of the kitchen. “I’ve made some sandwiches, and I’ve got our hats. Are you ready?” she asked.

Benson took off the dressing-gown and the saucepan and the gumboots, and gave the book and the guitar and the camera and the shopping bag and the fly-swatter back to Aunt Moss. “Ready,” he said.

He took his mother’s hand and they went off together.

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