Oranges

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

One day Benson went with his mother to help her with the shopping. They bought a big bag of oranges. “It must be the season for oranges,” Benson’s mother said. “These were very cheap, and I know you like oranges.”

Benson really did like oranges.

When they got home, they had so many oranges they filled up the fruit bowl and then they filled up the big mixing bowl too. Benson’s mother cut one up into pieces like boats and Benson ate them fast, peeling the skin back from the corners. It was delicious.

Just then there was a knock at the door. It was Mr Fenn, from down the road, with a big box of oranges. “I thought you might like these,” he said. “My orange tree is full of fruit just now, and I know Benson likes oranges.”

Benson’s mother thanked him, and Benson helped her carry the box inside. It was full to overflowing with big shiny oranges.

“What are we going to do with so many oranges?” she said.

“I can make some orange juice,” Benson suggested. He got the orange squeezer and got to work. He cut the oranges in half and pressed them onto the squeezer and twisted back and forth, then he tipped the juice into a big jug. He squeezed a great big pile of oranges, until the jug was full, and the compost bucket was full of empty orange shells. Even so, the box was still more than half full of oranges.

“Orange marmalade!” his mother said. “We can make orange marmalade. Aunt Moss likes marmalade.”

“Okay,” Benson said. They chopped and cut oranges, and piled them into the biggest pan with water and lots of sugar. Benson’s mother stirred, and then they waited and watched the pan boil and bubble. They found some empty jars and washed them well, and when the marmalade was thick and sticky, Benson’s mother poured it very carefully into the jars. There were six jars of marmalade, more than Aunt Moss could eat in a year, and the box was nearly empty.

Just then there was a knock at the door. Aunt Lillibet called, “Can someone open the door for me, and help me with these? I’ve been at my floral embroidery group, and Gertie’s tree is covered in fruit, so she brought bags of it for everyone, and she gave me two, because she knows how much Benson likes…” she stepped into the kitchen and stopped, “…oranges.”

She had two big bags of oranges. Benson emptied them into the nearly-empty box, and it was filled again to overflowing.

“What are we going to do with all these?” Lillibet said. “I know an excellent recipe for an orange cake that uses… one orange,” she said.

Benson’s mother said, “The mixing bowl’s full of oranges anyway.”

Just then there was another knock on the door, and Aunt Moss’s voice called out, “Could someone help me? I’ve got the loveliest surprise!”

Outside the door was Aunt Moss, with a whole wheelbarrow full of oranges. “I’ve been at Bernice’s place, and her tree is just covered with the most beautiful fruit, and she let me pick as many as I wanted, because she knows how much Benson likes oranges.”

Benson’s mother sighed. “Everyone knows how much Benson likes oranges. Come inside and see.”

Aunt Moss came inside and looked at the piles of oranges. “Oh well, we can make orange juice – “ Benson’s mother showed her the big jug of orange juice, “ – and marmalade! I love orange marmalade!” Benson’s mother showed her the shining jars of marmalade. “Lillibet has a recipe for a wonderful orange cake…” Benson’s mother pointed to the mixing bowl, full of oranges.

“Oh,” Aunt Moss said. “It’s as if it’s been raining oranges, and we’re in the middle of an orange flood.”

Benson stepped forward. “I love oranges. May I have another one, please?”

His mother smiled. “Of course.” She peeled an orange for him, cutting the peel in a long orange snake around and around. He ate the orange, and then everyone had a big glass of orange juice and Benson squeezed another big jug full. Aunt Moss took jars of marmalade to Mr Fenn and to Lilllibet’s friend Gertie and to her friend Bernice, and they made another big batch for themselves. By then the mixing bowl was empty, and Aunt Lillibet could make her famous orange cake. It was absolutely delicious.

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