Turning Left

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

One day Aunt Lillibet said to Benson, “I want to make some cheese and herb scones, but I need some wild mint. I want you to go pick some for me – it will only take five minutes. There’s a great big patch out under the muntry bushes beside the big rock.”

“What big rock?” Benson said.

“The big rock shaped like a bear lying down, you know!” said Aunt Lillibet. “We’ve been there dozens of times!” She was in a hurry. Benson’s mother was bringing a friend home for lunch and Aunt Lillibet had promised to make scones, but she had been reading a very exciting story about rabbits and had forgotten the time. “Hurry up, now!” she said to Benson.

“I don’t know where the rock is,” he said.

“You just go down the track to the first crossing and turn left and keep going,” Aunt Lillibet said.

Benson put on his hat and took a basket for the mint and set off. He went down the track and when he came to the first crossroad he turned left. He knew it was left because that was the hand he didn’t draw with.

He went along and then he came to another crossroad. He said to himself, “Aunt Lillibet said keep going so that means keep turning left,” and he turned left. He went along and after a while he came to another crossroad, and he turned left again.

He saw lots of rocks but none of them were very big and none of them were shaped like bears. One was shaped like a tea-pot, and lots of them were shaped like rocks.

After a while he came to another crossing and he turned left again. He went along a bit more and there was his house!

Benson was astonished. “How did that get there?” he said.

He went inside and there was Aunt Lillibet, waiting impatiently. “Well, where’s the mint?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Benson said. “I turned left, like you said, but I couldn’t find any rock shaped like a bear. I saw one shaped like a tea-pot – was that it?”

“Of course not!” said Aunt Lillibet. “You just weren’t looking! Go back and look properly this time. It’s a big rock shaped like a bear – you can’t miss it!”

Benson set off again. He went slowly along the track, looking as hard as he could. He found a lizard that was shaped like a leaf, and a leaf that was shaped like a fan, and an ant hill that looked exactly like an ant hill, but no rocks that looked like bears, or lions, or tigers.

He kept turning left like before, and he ended up back home again. He went inside and said to Aunt Lillibet, “I couldn’t find it. Maybe someone moved it.”

“You’re just being silly,” she said. “Who could move a great big rock like that?”

“I don’t know,” said Benson. “A great big strong giant with a great big spade?”

“What am I going to do without any mint?” Aunt Lillibet said.

Benson said, “I looked really hard, like you said, but there wasn’t any mint anywhere. All I could find was a patch of nasturtiums, and some dandelions, and some mulberries.” He showed her his basket, overflowing with orange nasturtiums and bright yellow dandelions and purple mulberries.

Aunt Lillibet was quite pleased to see what Benson had gathered. She stopped being angry and they set to work. Aunt Lillibet made dandelion salad and nasturtium jelly and Benson washed the mulberries and put them in a nice bowl.

When Benson’s mother came home with her friend, they said, “Nasturtium jelly! How unusual!” but everyone ate it and it tasted just fine.

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