Moths

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

Benson’s mother was sorting out the washing. She held up Benson’s favourite orange jumper. There was a hole right in the middle of the front.

“Look at this big hole,” she said. “I think we’ve got moths.”

“Just sprinkle some lavender among his jumpers,” said Aunt Moss. “That will get rid of them. Moths hate the smell of lavender.”

“That’s a good idea,” said Aunt Lillibet, “if you want your cupboards full of lavender beetles.”

“Lavender beetles?” said Benson’s mother.

“Lavender beetles,” said Aunt Lillibet. “Everywhere. Thousands of them. Once you’ve got lavender beetles, you never get rid of them.”

“You could always put down some bay leaves,” said Aunt Moss.

“Oh yes, sure,” said Aunt Lillibet. “Bay leaves will get rid of the lavender beetles, but then you’re going to get bay bugs.”

“Bay bugs?” said Benson’s mother.

“Bay bugs,” said Aunt Lillibet. “Bay bugs are very quiet. They stay hidden out of sight, and they don’t bother anyone. If you don’t mind the smell.”

“What do they smell like?” asked Benson.

“Like rotten potatoes and rotten broccoli mixed together. Like a lemon that has gone all white and furry in the bottom of the fruit bowl,” said Aunt Lillibet.

“But tansy berries will get rid of the smell,” said Aunt Moss. “You just dry them out in the oven and then you grind them up into a kind of powder and sprinkle it everywhere.”

“Oh, yes, tansy berries are great,” said Aunt Lillibet. “Except for the itch.”

“Do tansy berries make you itch, Aunt Lillibet?” asked Benson.

“Like a million mosquitoes biting you all over,” said Aunt Lillibet. “Every bit of you wants to scratch so much you can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you can’t read, you just scratch and itch and scratch and itch until you wish your skin would fall off and go somewhere else.”

“I don’t think we should get any tansy berries,” Benson’s mother said.

“You could always try toadflax,” said Aunt Lillibet.

“Oh, yes, toadflax,” said Aunt Moss. “Such pretty yellow flowers. My mother always used toadflax. It’s a pity about the toad creepers, though.”

“Toad creepers?” said Benson’s mother.

“Yes, they creep out from under the toadflax at night,” Aunt Moss said, “and they – “

“Don’t talk about them please, Aunt Moss,” Benson’s mother said, shuddering all the way down from her head to her feet.

“Actually, the toad creepers aren’t so bad,” said Aunt Lillibet. “It’s when the vipers come to visit them that you really have to watch out.”

Benson’s mother said, “I think I’d rather have the moths.”

Benson said, “Actually, it wasn’t moths that put the hole in my jumper, it was my paintbrush.”

“Your paintbrush put a hole in your jumper?” his mother said.

“Well, me, using my paintbrush,” said Benson. “I kind of got a spot of red paint on it and when I tried to wash it out, it just went a sort of mushy pink, so I painted over it with orange paint but it went a nasty brown colour, so then I got my scissors and cut most of it out and stapled it together again, but the staple fell out and sticky tape wouldn’t work, so now there’s a hole.”

“Darn it,” said Aunt Lillibet.

“Yes, I suppose I’ll have to,” said Benson’s mother. “Anyway, it’s a lot better than tansy berries and toad creepers.”

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