Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a nice tidy wombat hole with his mother, and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
One evening Benson was in bed, reading a bedtime story to his mother, when they heard a squeak from the kitchen. Aunt Moss called out, “A mouse! There’s a mouse in the kitchen!”
Benson’s mother said straight away, “Come in here, Moss, quick!”
Aunt Moss came running in and sat on Benson’s bed. She pulled her feet up off the floor and sat with them on the bed. Benson’s mother got up and shut the door. She sat down again, and said to Aunt Moss, “I don’t mind mice, really.”
Aunt Moss said, “I don’t mind them either, I think they’re sweet, with their little pink noses and their little tails. I just don’t really like the way they run so quickly.”
Benson’s mother agreed with her. “You always think that they’re going to run over your feet, and then they just might run up your leg…” She shivered, and Aunt Moss shivered too.
Benson thought that might be fun, but he didn’t say anything.
“Exactly,” said Aunt Moss. “They’re all right outside, that’s fine, but inside the house, I don’t feel comfortable.”
“Neither do I,” Benson’s mother said. Benson thought it would be great to have a pet mouse that would run up his arm and sit on his head, but he didn’t say anything.
Aunt Moss said, “I had a friend who was just going to bed once, and she saw a mouse run over her pillow! Ugh!”
“Ugh!” Benson’s mother agreed. They both shivered. Benson imagined a pet mouse that would sit on his pillow and he could give it crumbs and pieces of apple to hold in its tiny paws and nibble on.
Then they heard the front door opening, and Benson’s mother and Aunt Moss both said together, “Lillibet!” Benson’s mother went to the bedroom door and opened it and called out, “Lillibet, there’s a mouse in the kitchen!”
They heard a Aunt Lillibet make a little squeak, and then she walked very quickly over to Benson’s room and Benson’s mother let her in and shut the door again.
“I don’t mind mice,” Aunt Lillibet said, “it’s just the way they run around. I always think they might…”
“Run over your feet,” Benson’s mother said. Lillibet nodded.
“Or up your legs,” Aunt Moss said. They all shivered. Benson didn’t say anything. He had seen the mouse run into his room when his mother opened the door. It was tiny and brownie-grey, with a long tail. It had run along his bookshelves and was hiding next to his gumboots.
Aunt Lillibet sat on the bed with Aunt Moss, both of them with their legs tucked up. They all sat still, thinking about mice and legs, and possibly mice in their hair. Benson watched the mouse scratching its ears. It started to venture out, across the floor.
Lillibet said, “Moss had a friend once who was just going to bed, and she saw a mouse run over her pillow!”
Benson’s mother nodded, and Aunt Moss shivered. “Just imagine if one got into your bed!” Aunt Moss said.
“Don’t!” Benson’s mother said.
Benson watched the mouse creep over the floor, towards the chair where his mother was sitting. He imagined what might happen next.
His mother said, “We can’t sit here all day.”
“No,” the others said. But nobody moved.
Benson said, “I could go out to the kitchen and look around, if you like?”
Everyone agreed that would be a good idea.
Benson got up, and went towards the door. The mouse ran back to his corner by the gumboots. “I might need my gumboots,” Benson said.
“Gumboots!” everyone said. “What a good idea!”
Benson bent over to get his gumboots and very carefully picked up the mouse. He dropped it inside one of the boots, and went out to the kitchen. Very quietly, he tipped the mouse on the ground outside the front door, and it scampered away as fast as it could. He went back into the kitchen, and called out, “No mice in here!”
“Are you sure?” Aunt Moss called.
“Yep, no mice anywhere.”
His mother and Aunt Lillibet and Aunt Moss came out cautiously and looked around the kitchen. Aunt Moss said, “Maybe I imagined it after all. There certainly aren’t any mice here now.”
“No,” the others agreed. But they all wore their gumboots inside for the rest of the evening and all the next day.