The Melon-Baller

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

One day there was a parcel in the mail for Aunt Lillibet. It was from Nanna. There was a note that said, “Have fun! Love from Nanna.” Inside was a long, thin, wooden thing with a tiny scoop on the end.

“What is it?” Benson asked.

“It’s a melon-baller,” Aunt Lillibet said. “You hold it by the handle and put the little scoop into a melon, and you turn it round and it makes a little ball of melon. Why on earth did she send me a melon-baller?”

Benson looked at it. “I think it could be very useful,” he said.

“So do I,” said Benson’s mother.

Aunt Moss said, “Yes, you could do lots of things with it.”

“You mean I could make lots of melon balls with it,” Aunt Lillibet said. She sniffed and went out to the garden, leaving the melon-baller on the bench.

Benson’s mother picked up the melon-baller and set to work.

At lunchtime there were balls of mashed potato, balls of baked pumpkin, boiled carrot balls, and a whole pile of parsnip balls. For dessert there were watermelon balls and rockmelon balls and honeydew melon balls.

Aunt Moss said, “How lovely!”

Aunt Lillibet snorted and went back outside.

After lunch, Benson took the melon-baller into his room and made tiny snowmen and giant caterpillars out of playdough. Then he remembered he was supposed to make a hat for ‘Come As a Monster’ day at the library. He asked Aunt Moss if she would help him, and they made papier mache and made a really scary hat. Benson used the melon-baller to make round, warty lumps and they stuck them all over the hat. He loved it so much he wore it all afternoon and he was still wearing it at dinnertime.

Aunt Lillibet said, “What on earth is that on your head, Benson?”

“It’s my Warty-Hog hat,” he said.

Aunt Lillibet humphed and went to do the washing-up.

The next morning Aunt Moss got some modelling clay in different colours, then she got the melon-baller and made perfectly round beads. She baked them in the oven and then she strung them together on a string. It made a very handsome necklace. When Aunt Lillibet came in for morning tea, she said, “Where did you get your new necklace, Moss?”

“I made it myself!” Aunt Moss said proudly.

Aunt Lillibet looked at the melon-baller. It had modelling clay stuck all over it.

Just then Benson’s mother came in. “Nanna is coming over for lunch today,” she said.

Aunt Lillibet said, “What’s she going to say when she sees what you’ve done to the melon-baller?” She took it away from Aunt Moss and started scrubbing the clay off it.

Nanna was very happy to see everyone. She loved Benson’s hat, and Aunt Moss’s necklace. She asked Aunt Lillibet, “Did you get the present I sent you?”

Aunt Lillibet said, “Yes, thank you.” She knew you should always say thank you for a present, even if it was something you didn’t really want.

Nanna said, “I hope you like it. I’ve got one of my own, and I use it all the time. It’s the most useful thing!”

Aunt Lillibet said, “That’s funny, I’ve never seen you make melon balls.”

Nanna said, “Melon balls? Is that what you do with it? Oh no, I use mine in the garden. It’s perfect for making little dents or scooping out nice round holes to plant seeds in. Sometimes I use it like a little cup to sprinkle dirt on the seeds after I’ve planted them.”

Aunt Lillibet picked up the melon-baller and looked at it again. She turned it around, and her eyes started to shine. She went off to the garden with it, humming.

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