The Lost Princess

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 morning Benson was playing with his snail shell collection and his mother was cleaning out the fridge where the quandong jam had spilled everywhere. Aunt Lillibet was out weeding and planting with her Bush Regeneration group, and Aunt Moss was going to visit her friend Marigold. She packed a basket with some fresh blueberry muffins for Marigold and set off.

A little while later, Benson’s mother said, “Oh no, Aunt Moss has forgotten her hat. She’ll be very hot walking all that way to Marigold’s without her hat. We’d better go after her and take it to her.” She and Benson set out, taking Aunt Moss’s hat with them.

The way to Marigold’s went along by the creek and up the gully. Just by the creek, Benson’s mother noticed something shining on the ground and picked it up. It was a tiny little screw. She said to Benson, “I think we’d better keep our eyes peeled.”

Benson said, “How do we peel our eyes?”

“I mean, look very carefully at everything we see while we’re walking along,” his mother said.

Benson turned on his super-noticing vision and they kept going.

Suddenly Benson said, “Aha!” He picked up something from the grass. It was a short golden chain. “Look!” he said, “a golden chain! Do you think maybe a beautiful princess dropped it here?”

His mother said, “That was very good noticing, Benson. Keep looking hard.”

A bit further on, Benson said, “Aha!” He pounced on a small circle of glass that was lying in the dirt. “I know what this is,” he said. “It’s out of a pirate’s spy-glass. A pirate has been spying on the beautiful princess, and he’s probably chasing her to steal her golden crown and her jewels.”

His mother said, “I think we’d better hurry.”

They hurried on along the track. The bush on each side of the track started to get very thick. Suddenly Benson said, “Aha! Look at all these broken branches.” At the side of the track, some of the bushes had been bent and broken, leaving a gap between them. “I bet the princess ran through here and the pirate chased after her. Come on, we’ve got to hurry before he catches her!”

They pushed through the broken bushes and hurried along between trees and rocks.

Before long they could hear a high voice in the distance shouting, “Stop it! Give that back, you greedy creature!”

Benson said, “Oh no! The pirate is trying to steal the princess’s jewels. Quick, we’ve got to save her!”

They ran towards the shouting voice, and there in a small clearing was Aunt Moss. Her hair was a mess, she had dropped her basket and a big magpie was trying to get the muffins.

“Moss! There you are!” said Benson’s mother. She didn’t seem at all surprised.

Aunt Moss said, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you! My glasses broke and I must have wandered off the track, and now this nasty magpie is trying to steal the muffins!”

Benson and his mother shooed at the magpie. It looked at them with its yellow eye, then it grabbed a muffin and flew away.

Aunt Moss was very relieved. “How did you find me?” she asked.

Benson’s mother said, “We were just coming to bring you your hat. Then I found the little screw out of your glasses down by the creek, and I thought that if your glasses came apart, you wouldn’t be able to see very well and you might run into trouble.”

Aunt Moss said, “My glasses just seemed to fall apart and I couldn’t see a thing without them, and then that nasty magpie came along! I’m so very glad you found me!”

Benson’s mother said, “It was Benson, really. He found the chain off your glasses, and then he found one of the lenses that must have fallen out, and then he found the place where you had gone off the track, so we followed it and heard you shouting.”

Aunt Moss said, “Thank you, Benson. I don’t know what I would have done without you to rescue me.”

Benson said, “That’s okay. Except I think the muffins might be a bit dusty.”

His mother said, “I think they’ll be okay.” They picked up the rest of the muffins and dusted them off and put them back in the basket. Then Aunt Moss put her hat on and they went home, with Benson’s mother holding onto Aunt Moss’s arm so she didn’t get lost again. They all had some hot milk, and the muffins were perfectly fine.

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