Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a warm, tidy wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
Benson was walking along one day when something fell out of the sky and hit him on the head.
“Ow!” he said.
He looked around for what had hit him and he found a small, bright green ball. He picked it up. It was firm and slightly fuzzy. He threw it on the ground and it bounced back up to his hand, straight and fast. He threw it at a tree, and it bounced back and he caught it. It was a pretty good ball.
He threw the ball at the tree lots of times, up high and down low and in the middle. Sometimes he caught it and sometimes he missed and had to go and look for it.
He was having fun playing his game when he heard a voice say, “That’s my ball. Give it back.”
It was Arnette, a girl he knew but he wasn’t really friends with.
“I found it,” he said, “so it’s mine.” He kept on playing.
“I lost it. It’s mine,” Arnette said. “I was playing with it and it bounced away.”
“But you lost it,” Benson said, “and I found it so now it’s mine.”
Arnette said, “You found my ball that I lost. Give it back.”
Benson thought about it. Just because he found it didn’t make it his. He gave the ball back to Arnette. “Here,” he said.
“Thanks,” she said. “Do you want to play handball with me?”
“Okay,” said Benson.
Arnette hit the ball on the ground and when it bounced, Benson hit it back and then Arnette hit it back again. Sometimes Benson missed and had to run after the ball, and sometimes Arnette missed and Benson had to run and get the ball anyway. It was a pretty fun game.
Then they heard a voice say, “You’ve got our ball. Hand it over.”
It was Nils and Nella. They were hanging out of a tree by their tails.
Arnette hid the ball behind her back. “What ball?” she said.
“That one you’re playing with,” Nils said. “It’s ours. We were playing with it, and it bounced away.”
“How do I know it’s yours?” Arnette said. “A ball is a ball.”
“It’s green and fuzzy and about this big,” Nils said, holding his hands apart about the size of the ball.
Benson got the ball from behind Arnette’s back. “Like this?” he said.
“That’s it,” Nella said.
“Where did you get it from?” Arnette said.
“Nella gave it to me,” Nils said.
Arnette’s face fell. “I guess it’s yours, then,” she said. She gave the ball back to Nils. “Here,” she said.
“Thanks,” said Nils. Then he said, “Hey, do you guys want to play cricket with us? I’ve got a stick we can use for a bat.”
They played cricket. Benson was the wicket-keeper, and Nils had the first bat because he was the one who found the stick. Nella was a really good bowler and Arnette was a mean fielder. Every time Nils hit the ball, Arnette had to run after it. If Nils didn’t hit the ball, Benson had to run after it. After a while Benson wished Nils would hit the ball more often.
Then they head a voice say, “Excuse me, I think you’ve got my ball.” It was Mr Fenn.
Nella wrapped her tail tightly around the ball. “This is our ball,” she said.
Mr Fenn said, “I think it’s mine. Could I have it back, please?”
Nils said, “This isn’t your ball, it’s ours.”
Mr Fenn said, “Where did you get it?”
Nils said, “Nella gave it to me.”
Mr Fenn said to Nella, “Where did you get it from?”
“I found it,” Nella said. “It was in the sandpit all by itself and no-one wanted it so I got it.”
Mr Fenn said, “I had a ball just like that in my pocket this morning. I went for a walk near the playground, and when I got home it had fallen out of my pocket. I think you must have found my ball.”
“Maybe it’s a different ball that just looks like yours,” Nils said. “How do you know it’s yours?”
“I scratched my name on my ball,” Mr Fenn said. “If it is my ball, it should have F-E-N-N in small letters.”
Everybody peered at the ball. Once you looked, you could see wombat claw marks spelling F-E-N-N, Fenn.
“You’re right, it is your ball,” Nils said. He gave the ball back to Mr Fenn. “Here,” he said.
“Thank you,” said Mr Fenn. “My friend Gordon and I are just going to play tennis together. Would you like to come and be ball-boys and ball-girls and run after the ball for us and bring it back when we hit it out of the tennis court? There’ll be oranges, and lemonade.”
“I will, I will!” said Nils and Nella.
“Me too!” said Arnette.
Benson said, “Um, I think I might just go home and have a rest.”