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 day Benson and his mother went to visit his Nanna and take her some pumpkin muffins that Benson had made. They had a great time, playing hide and seek and telling stories and eating the muffins, then Benson’s mother said it was getting late so they ‘d better go home.
They walked home along the side of creek so Benson could practise skipping stones. He wasn’t very good at it yet, so it was more like throwing stones into the water.
Suddenly they heard a terrifying sound. Two great big dogs came bounding out of the bush, barking and snarling.
Benson’s mother shouted, “Run, Benson!” but Benson was so frightened he couldn’t move. The dogs leapt towards him, yapping and yowling, with their huge sharp teeth dripping, but Benson’s legs wouldn’t move. He froze into a little, frightened wombat bundle.
His mother threw herself on top of him, gathering him up underneath her. For the first time in a long, long time Benson wished he could crawl back into his mother’s pouch.
The dogs attacked, snarling and biting and scratching. Benson’s mother hissed and growled at them, scratching back at them with her big strong claws, until finally they ran away yelping.
Even after they were gone, Benson’s mother didn’t move. Benson wriggled and crawled out from underneath her little by little, peeping out to make sure the dogs had really gone. His mother was lying still, with her eyes closed. He could see she was bleeding a lot, all down her back and on her nose. He was terrified before, but now he was so frightened, he couldn’t breathe.
Then he heard her say, “Benson?” in a small voice, so quiet he could hardly hear her.
The breath all rushed back into him and he said, “Are you okay?”
She said, “Benson, go home. Now. Run.”
He didn’t want to leave her, and he didn’t want to go in case the dogs were out there. He made a small whimpering noise even though he didn’t mean to.
His mother said, “It will be all right. Run home as fast as you can. Ask Mr Fenn to come.”
Mr Fenn was the biggest, strongest wombat Benson knew. He lived by himself, along the road from Benson’s house.
Benson ran and ran without stopping. When he got to Mr Fenn’s house, he banged on the door.
Mr Fenn opened the door, and Benson said, in between crying and trying to wipe his nose on his arm, “There were dogs, big dogs, and they bit her. She’s bleeding.”
Mr Fenn said, “It’s all right, Benson, you’re all right now. Where did it happen?”
Benson said, “Down by the creek, near the old banksia.” Then he said a very brave thing. “I can show you if you want.”
Mr Fenn said, “I know the place. You go home now and tell your aunties.” He gave Benson a little push towards home, and he set off running.
Benson walked home. He was too tired to run any more. Aunt Lillibet said, “What’s happened? There’s blood all over you.”
Aunt Moss said, “Where’s your mother?”
He told them what had happened. “I told Mr Fenn and he went.”
Aunt Moss and Aunt Lillibet looked at each other. “I’ll go,” Lillibet said.
“Take a blanket, and the ti-tree oil,” said Aunt Moss. “I’ll get some hot water ready, and make some camomile tea, and some willow-bark infusion, in case.”
Benson said, “I can come with you, and show you.”
Aunt Moss said very firmly, “No, Benson, you’re going straight to bed.”
Aunt Lillibet got a blanket and some other things and hurried off. Aunt Moss put Benson in the bath and then she made him some warm milk and tucked him into bed.
He lay awake for a long time, listening and listening, and finally he heard voices in the kitchen.
Mr Fenn was saying, “She’s lost a lot of blood and her front leg is in a bad way, but it could have been a lot worse.”
Aunt Lillibet said, “Just carry her into her room, and I’ll bring the ti-tree oil and the aloe ointment and some bandages for her leg.”
Then Benson heard his mother’s voice and he felt as if his heart was suddenly so light it could have floated away like a balloon.
“Don’t fuss, Lillibet,” she said. Then she said, “Is Benson all right?”
“He’s fine,” said Aunt Moss. “He’s asleep.”
There was a lot more talking and fussing but Benson slid off to sleep and didn’t hear any more.
In the middle of the night he woke up, dreaming of dogs and big teeth. He crept into his mother’s room and crawled into bed beside her. He could feel a scratchy bandage around her leg, and sticky ointment all down her back, but she was warm and cosy. He snuggled up against her and went straight back to sleep.