The Strawberry Ladder

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

Benson went over to his friend Mick’s place to play one day. They were playing outside with Mick’s sister Bonnie Lou, when they heard a noise in the bush like someone crying. They all went into the bush to find out who was making the noise.

They saw a lyre-bird standing there crying, and in front of her was a big old goanna. The reason the lyre-bird was crying was that the goanna had taken the lyre-bird’s egg out of her nest and he was just about it eat it.

“Don’t, you mean old goanna!” Bonnie Lou shouted. “Put that egg down!”

The goanna laughed. “Why should I?” he said. “I’m hungry, and this egg looks delicious.”

The lyre-bird cried, “Please give me back my egg! It’s the only one I have.”

The goanna said, “Now let me think. What would make me give you back this egg? Hmm.” He had a nasty yellow eye, and a nasty flicking forked tongue.

“I know,” said the goanna. “I’ve always wanted a ladder to make it easy for me to pick my strawberries. If you get me a strawberry ladder, I might give you this egg.”

“But – ” Benson started to say, but Bonnie Lou jumped up straight away.

“I’ll get you one, just wait!” she said, and she ran off.

The goanna grinned. “Nothing in her head but dust,” he said. He opened his mouth ready to crush the lyre-bird’s egg.

“Wait!” cried the lyre-bird. “Please don’t eat my egg!”

The goanna said, “Hmm, let me see. What might make me give you back this egg?” His nasty yellow eye-lid flickered over his beady eye. “I know,” he said. “If I had a big glass of turtle milk, it might be so delicious that I wouldn’t want this egg.”

“I’ll get you some,” said Mick. “Just don’t eat the egg.”

Benson said, “But turtles – ” but Mick had already run off.

The goanna chuckled. “Not even half a brain between the two of them,” he said. He flickered his nasty tongue over the egg and opened his mouth full of nasty yellow teeth, ready to take a bite of the egg.

“Oh, please don’t eat my egg!” cried the lyre-bird.

The goanna stopped and looked sneaky. “You know,” he said, “what I’d really like is a nice fresh kangaroo egg. A big juicy kangaroo egg would be better than an old lyre-bird’s egg any day.”

Benson said, “As a matter of fact, I just happen to have one right here in my pouch.”

“No!” said the goanna. “You can’t have!”

“If you don’t believe me, why don’t you come and look?” Benson said.

“A real kangaroo egg?” said the goanna.

“Uh huh,” Benson nodded. “Right here in my pouch.”

“Let me see,” said the greedy old goanna. He dropped the lyre-bird’s egg and waddled over to Benson.

As soon as the goanna let go of the egg, the lyre-bird ran and grabbed it and carried it back to her nest and sat on it.

The goanna was too busy looking all over Benson to notice. “Where’s your pouch, then?” he asked.

Benson laughed. “Nothing in his head but fresh air!” he said.

The goanna growled and swung his nasty tail to smack Benson but just then Mick and Bonnie Lou came running back with their mother. She had a big bucket of cold water, and she threw it over the old goanna. “Go away and stop frightening the children!” she shouted at him.

“Arrrk!” yowled the goanna. He was soaking wet, from head to toe. He waddled away into the bush as fast as his legs would carry him.

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