The Bike Pump

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

One morning after breakfast, Benson wanted to go for a ride on his bike, but when he went out to get on it, he could see that one of the tyres was flat. He went into the kitchen and asked his mother if she knew where the bike pump was.

“Oh, I saw Aunt Lillibet with it yesterday, poking holes in her new garden to plant young lettuces in,” his mother said. “She might know where it is.”

Benson went and asked Aunt Lillibet if she had his bike pump. “Oh no, Moss needed it to get her hat out of a tree, so I gave it to her.”

Benson went to find Aunt Moss. She was sitting in the sun, reading about book about weaving patterns. “Aunt Moss, do you know where my bike pump is?” he asked.

“Your bike pump? Is it long and silver, with a handle that goes in and out?”

“Yes,” said Benson, “that’s the one.”

“I needed it yesterday. My hat blew off and got caught in the wattle tree and I couldn’t reach it. Your bike pump was exactly what I needed to get it down. Now let me see, what did I do with it?” She scratched her chin and tried to remember.

Benson waited.

She said, “I think I may have put it in the laundry when I put my hat away. Or possibly in the bathroom. I needed something long to shoo a big beetle off the top of the cupboard. It was frightening the turtles. Or maybe I used Lillibet’s hairbrush. Have you looked in the laundry?”she asked.

“No,” Benson said. He went and looked in the laundry, and in the bathroom. It wasn’t in the laundry or in the bathroom, but he did find a long red scarf with a long silky fringe. He showed it to his mother. “Oh,”she said, “that’s Moss’s friend Biddy’s scarf. She must have left it here after they went to their dancing class yesterday. Do you think you could ride your bike over and give it back to her?”

Benson explained that his tyre was flat and he couldn’t find his bike pump.

“Oh,” said his mother, “I think I remember finding it in the bath and putting it away somewhere. Or was that the rake? We must have a look for it.”

She called Lillibet and Moss and they all looked for the bike pump. They looked everywhere. Moss found an apple core that she thought the turtles might like, and a ball of turquoise yarn she had lost a week ago. “Wonderful, now I can finish the other leg-warmer I was making for Biddy.”

Lillibet found two safety pins, a marble and two pencils, one grey and one white, which had fallen out of Benson’s pencil-case but which he hadn’t missed because he never used grey or white. She gave the pencils to Benson and the marble to Moss for her marble run, and put the safety pins safely in her pin cushion.

Benson didn’t find anything. His mother said, “I’m sure it’ll turn up. Why don’t you walk over to Aunt Moss’s friend Biddy’s house and take the scarf back anyway?”

Aunt Moss said, “Just wait for ten minutes and I’ll finish that leg-warmer and you can take them over too.” She got out her knitting with an almost-finished leg-warmer on the needles, and set to work with the turquoise wool she had just found. In ten minutes it was finished.

“There,” said Aunt Moss. “Now where did I put the first leg-warmer?” She looked in her knitting bag and under the bed. Benson’s mother looked in the laundry and down the sides of the lounge, but they couldn’t find it.

“Never mind,” said Aunt Moss, “I’m sure it will turn up. Just take the scarf for now, please, Benson.”

Benson set off with the scarf. As he was walking past his bike, he noticed that the pump was in its place on the bike, exactly where it belonged. He couldn’t think why he hadn’t looked there before. It had some dirt on the end and some wattle blossom caught in the handle and a bit of soap on the side. He pumped his tyre up, and rode over to Biddy’s house.

Biddy said, “Benson! How nice to see you! I was just coming over to your house to bring this back to Moss. It must have fallen out of her knitting bag when she was here on Monday.”

She held up a long turquoise leg-warmer. “But while you’re here, Benson, would you mind helping me look for my glasses?”

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