Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a warm, dry wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
One night after dinner, Benson’s mother said, “Time for bed, Benson. Don’t forget to clean your teeth.”
Benson went into the bathroom and then he came back out again. “I can’t clean my teeth,” he said. “There’s a rabbit using my toothbrush.”
“Don’t be silly,” Benson’s mother said. “Clean your teeth and hop into bed.”
Benson went back to the bathroom and cleaned his teeth. He went into his bedroom, then he came back out again. “I can’t go to bed,” he said. “There’s a rabbit in my bed, reading my book and wearing my pyjamas.”
Benson’s mother said, “If I went into your room, would I see a rabbit in your bed?”
Benson said, “Yes. Unless he hides under the bed.”
Benson’s mother got up and went into his room. There was a rabbit in Benson’s bed, wearing Benson’s pyjamas and reading a book.
Benson and his mother both looked at the rabbit. It twitched its nose and rubbed its face with its paws.
Benson’s mother said, “Those pyjamas are much too big.”
Benson said, “That’s my favourite book.”
The rabbit twitched its ears and rubbed its nose with its paw.
“You’d better sleep in my room tonight, Benson,” said his mother.
In the morning when Benson got up, the rabbit was sitting at the table. Benson made some porridge and put some in a bowl for himself and some for the rabbit. The rabbit twitched its ears and wriggled its nose. Benson thought about it. He got a carrot and gave it to the rabbit instead. The rabbit ate the carrot, and Benson ate both bowls of porridge.
The rabbit went back to Benson’s room and jumped on the bed. Then it jumped on the desk and on Benson’s pillow, and on the desk again. Then it jumped on Benson’s basketball, and then on the bed again and then on Benson’s saxophone.
Benson sighed. The rabbit stopped jumping and chewed on Benson’s snorkel.
Benson went back to the kitchen. Aunt Moss was there with Benson’s mother, eating the porridge Benson had made. Benson said, “There’s a rabbit in my room eating my snorkel.”
“Is there?” Aunt Moss said. “I must go and say hello.”
Benson’s mother said, “Can you speak Rabbit?”
“Oh yes,” said Moss. “We had a rabbit family staying with us for a while when I was a girl.”
The rabbit came out, wearing Benson’s flippers on its ears.
Aunt Moss twitched her nose. The rabbit twitched its nose and wriggled its ears.
“He says these pyjamas are much too big,” Aunt Moss said.
The rabbit brushed his face with his paws. “He says these ear warmers are too big too, and they smell funny.”
Benson said, “Can you teach me how to speak Rabbit?”
“Of course,” said Aunt Moss. “It’s easy.” She showed Benson some easy signs, how to say hello, how are you, and Are there any more carrots?
Benson twitched his nose at the rabbit, and it twitched its ears back. “He said hello to me!” Benson said.
Aunt Moss showed him how to say My name is Benson, and Where do you live, and It’s Tuesday tomorrow and lots of other things. Benson watched carefully and practised. After a while he knew lots of Rabbit words. He talked to the rabbit, and the rabbit talked to him. He asked the rabbit not to jump on his saxophone, but the rabbit pretended he didn’t understand.
After a few days the rabbit hopped away again. Benson’s mother thought maybe there had been a fox hanging around, and the rabbit wanted to take shelter in the wombat hole until the fox went away again.
“Did you enjoy having the rabbit here?” she asked Benson.
Benson said, “It was interesting, but it was very tiring. He never stops talking!”