Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a nice, tidy wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
One morning after breakfast, Benson went out to play in the back yard, and he found a red cape lying on the ground. He picked it up and tied it around his shoulders. Straight away he felt different. He had a kind of tingling up and down his body. He felt taller, and braver.
He had an idea. He went inside and got the toilet brush and waved it in the air like a sword. Perfect. He noticed the lid of the laundry basket, nice and round with a handle in the middle. That would make a really good shield, he thought. He tried it out. Even perfecter.
He wondered what he should call himself. Wonder Wombat? Bat-Wombat? Super-Marsupial?
“Maybe just Benson the Brave,” he said, and he set off to have adventures.
A fair way down the track he found his friend Roly, who was sitting beside an ant-hill, eating ants.
“Avast there, ye dastardly varlet!” he said to Roly. “Unhand those ants!”
Roly snorted an ant up into his nose in surprise. “What?” he said, snuffing and sneezing. “What’s a varlet?”
“I’m not sure,” said Benson. “It’s a kind of baddie, anyway.”
“I’m just eating some ants,” Roly said. “That’s not being a baddie.”
Benson waved his toilet brush and said, “I am the defender of the small and weak, like ants. Halt and desist!”
“But I’m hungry,” said Roly.
Benson sighed. He took out the peanut butter sandwich he carried in his pocket in case of emergencies and gave it to Roly. “Have this instead,” he said.
“Thanks,” said Roly. “It looks delicious.” He brushed off the pocket fluff and gave Benson back a whistle that was stuck in the peanut butter and started eating. “What are you doing with the toilet brush?” he asked.
“I’m just righting some wrongs and rescuing stuff,” Benson said modestly.
“Can I help?” Roly asked excitedly.
“If you want,” Benson said. “You can be Sir Roly the Rescuer. Maybe you can rescue some fair damsels.”
“What’s a damsel?” Roly asked.
“I don’t know, but I think it’s a kind of fly,” Benson said. He lifted Roly up and gave him a piggy back, and they started off.
After a while Roly said, “What’s that noise?”
Benson said, “I can’t hear anything.”
Roly, who had special superpowers of his own, said, “I think it’s someone crying.”
Benson said, “I think that might be me.” One of Roly’s spines was poking him in the eye and it was watering like anything. Plus the smell of an anteater full of ants right up next to your nose can really make your eyes sting.
“No, it’s someone in the bush,” Roly said. He slid off Benson’s back and stood listening. “Over this way,” he said. He led the way into a patch of deep bush.
Benson could hear a strange noise like ‘boop-boop-sniff-boop’. He followed Roly into the bush until they found what was making the noise.
“It’s a tawny frogmouth!” he said. There was a little tawny frogmouth sitting on a low branch, crying.
“I thought they only came out at night,” Benson said.
Roly said, “Look! His feet are all tangled up.” The little bird’s feet were caught in an old plastic bag that had blown into the bush. He was struggling and trying to pull them free but the plastic wrapped itself tight around his wing. The more he struggled, the worse it got.
Benson put down his toilet brush sword and his laundry-basket-lid shield, and went up to the tawny frogmouth very quietly. The bird was frightened and flapped harder to try and get away.
“Don’t worry, little bird,” Benson said. “I’m just going to get the plastic off. I’m a superhero, you know. We do this sort of stuff every day.”
The little bird was so tired he could hardly flap. Benson had an idea. He carefully put his red cape over the little bird’s head. “There,” he said. “Now you can’t see the big scary wombat any more, can you? It’s nice and dark in there. “
The tawny frogmouth sat very quietly. Benson used his strong claws to rip the plastic away from its feet and wings. Then he lifted his cape off, and the bird flew away.
Benson watched him go. “Another good deed done!” he said. “Why don’t they ever say thank you?”
Roly picked up the pieces of plastic and they set off for home.
“Doing good deeds makes you hungry, doesn’t it?” Benson said.
Roly said, “Do you want the rest of your sandwich? It might have some bits of ant on it.”
“No, thanks, you have it,” Benson said nobly. He had accidentally tasted ants before and he didn’t want to try it again.
When they got back to Benson’s place, Aunt Lillibet was bringing in the washing from the clothes-line. She looked at Benson. “I see you found my red singlet,” she said.
Benson untied his cape and gave it back to her.
“And your mother is wondering where the toilet brush has got to,” she said.
Benson went inside and put the toilet brush and the laundry basket lid back. He made some cheese and celery sandwiches and took them outside to share with Roly.
“Are we going to do some more good deeds after lunch?” Roly asked.
“Maybe,” said Benson. “It doesn’t feel the same without the cape, somehow.” He felt a bit sad.
Just then Aunt Lillibet came out. “I thought you might be needing a new cape,” she said, “so I made this for you.” It was a new red cape, a proper one with a big ‘B’ on the back.
“And this is for you,” she said to Roly. She had made a smaller one with an ‘R’ on the back for Roly. “Off you go then, go and do your good deeds.”
Benson gave Aunt Lillibet a big hug to say thankyou, and they went.