Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a very nice wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
One morning Benson was having his favourite breakfast, pancakes with mushrooms and blueberries. Aunt Moss came out of her room looking very sleepy. She was still in pyjamas and her eyes were hardly open at all.
She sat down at the table next to Benson, and she picked up the teapot and poured the tea into her cereal bowl. Then she got the porridge, and she filled up her tea cup with it. She put some yoghurt on top of the porridge, then she picked up the cup and tried to drink the porridge.
Benson’s mother came in and said, “Moss, dear, I think you’re a bit mixed up. You need a spoon to eat your porridge.”
Moss put the cup down, looking surprised. There was porridge and yoghurt all over her face. “Oh,” she said. “I don’t think I’m quite awake yet.” She looked at the cup, and she looked at the bowl full of tea. “Oh, dear, that’s not right, is it?”
Benson’s mother said, “You might need to wash your face. You’ve got some yoghurt on it.”
Aunt Moss laughed and said, “That was silly of me, wasn’t it?” She went off to the bathroom to wash her face.
Benson laughed so much he nearly choked on his pancake.
His mother said, “That will do, young man! I’m really disappointed with you!”
“Me?” said Benson. “I didn’t do anything!”
“That’s exactly what I mean!” said his mother angrily. “Poor Moss was embarrassed, and all you could do is laugh at her!”
“But it was funny,” Benson said, getting angry.
“It was not funny!” his mother said. “Go to your room right now!”
“You’re being completely and totally UNFAIR!” Benson shouted. “I didn’t do anything!”
He picked up the rest of his pancake and stomped out of the room. He stomped out of the front door and kept going down the path, out the gate, along the road and into the bush, stamping and fuming. He talked to himself as he went along, and waved his pancake in the air. “Why should I have to go to my room when all I did was laugh at something that was really funny? She had yoghurt on her nose, and porridge in her eyebrows! Everyone is always shouting at me for nothing at all! Why don’t they all go into their rooms and stay there? Everything is unfair, just because I’m the youngest!”
He kept on going until he ran into some bush that was too thick to walk through, then he sat down on a dead log and ate the rest of his pancake, thinking about how unfair his mother was, and what he could have said to her.
In a little while he calmed down a bit and looked around. He didn’t recognise any of the trees or the rocks. There was no path going anywhere, just thick bush wherever he looked. He got up off the dead log and tried to go back the way he had come from, but he couldn’t find any tracks. He started to feel worried, and then he started to feel really worried. He was lost.
He tried pushing through the trees and bushes one way, but there were big rocks in the way, so he tried going another way, but there were spiky plants he didn’t remember seeing before. He went back to the dead log and sat down and thought.
He didn’t know where he was, and he didn’t know the way home. His mother always said, If you ever get lost, stay where you are and I will come and get you. He thought about that.
If he tried to find the way and it was the wrong direction, he would be even more lost. If he walked around lost he would get tired and hungry. He might even get hurt. Staying where he was and waiting seemed like a good idea, so he stayed.
After a while of sitting and waiting, he was getting more tired and more worried. He worried that there were things in the bush that might come and bite him. He worried that his mother was so mad with him she wouldn’t come and look for him. He worried that he would not have any lunch, or any afternoon tea. What if his mother couldn’t find him, and he didn’t have any dinner either? What if everyone was looking somewhere else and he was here and they didn’t find him, and they gave up and went home?
He started to think he should try and find the way home by himself, but then he looked at the trees and the big rocks and the thick bush and the prickly plants, and he thought about his mother, and he said to himself, “Benson, you have to stay here and wait. It might not be easy, but you just have to wait. She will definitely come.”
He waited and waited, and after a very long time, he heard a noise and there was his mother. Benson felt very very happy. He jumped up off the log and hugged her, and she hugged him for a long time.
“I kind of got lost,” he said.
“I thought you might have,” his mother said.
“I stayed where I was and I waited,” he said.
“You did exactly the right thing,” his mother said. “It would have taken me ages to find you if you had wandered away, and you might have hurt yourself. You know there are big cliffs near here.”
“Are there?” Benson hugged her again. “How did you find me?” he said.
She smiled. “A young wombat in an angry mood leaves a pretty good trail in the bush,” she said.