Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a comfortable, tidy wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
Benson was trying to build a fort out of old pieces of wood, and he got a splinter in his finger. “My finger hurts,” he said to his mother. “It’s got a splinter in it.”
His mother said, “Let me see.” It wasn’t a big splinter, but it was buried deep in his finger. Only a little bit was showing. His mother said, “Hold still and I’ll see if I can pull it out.”
“No!” Benson said. “It’ll hurt!”
“If you don’t let me get it out now, it will hurt more later,” his mother said. But Benson wouldn’t let her touch it.
“Well, you could put it in your mouth and suck it, and it might get soft enough for you to get it out yourself,” his mother said.
Benson put his finger in his mouth and sucked it for a long time, but it didn’t help. His finger hurt more and more.
Aunt Lillibet said, “That’s a bad splinter you’ve got there. It must hurt a lot. Let me get my sewing needle and I’ll get it out in two seconds.”
She got a small sharp needle ready to get the splinter out, but as soon as she took hold of his hand, Benson jerked it away. “No!” he said, “it’s going to hurt!”
“It will hurt a lot more if you don’t let me get it out,” Aunt Lillibet said. But Benson wouldn’t let her touch it.
His finger started to get red and swollen. “It really hurts!” he complained.
Aunt Moss said, “You could try soaking it in a bowl of hot water with salt in it. Then you might be able to pull it out more easily.”
She got a bowl of really hot water and took Benson’s hand. “No!” he yelled. “It’s too hot! It’s going to hurt too much!” He pulled his hand away and wouldn’t let her touch it.
By now his finger was really hurting. It was all red and tight and it wouldn’t stop hurting. “Make it stop!” he cried to his mother.
“I’ll get my tweezers,” she said. “It will only hurt a little bit and then it will be over.”
She got her tweezers and took Benson’s hand. “No!” he said, and pulled his hand away. “You’re going to hurt it!”
She took his hand again gently, and said, “Just let me look at it.” She looked at his finger very carefully. The splinter was sticking out just a tiny bit.
“Aunt Lillibet,” she said, “were you going to make a jelly cake for lunch?”
“A jelly cake?” Aunt Lillibet said.
“Oh yes,” Aunt Moss said, “a jelly cake with passionfruit icing!”
Benson said, “What’s a jelly cake?”
Aunt Lillibet said, “Oh, you know, you make a cake and then you cut it in half and put jelly in the middle and then you put the other half on top and put icing on top of that. Sometimes you can put pineapple in the jelly, if you want, or peaches.”
“Peaches?” Benson said. This cake sounded really good.
“And make sure you put sprinkles on top, Lillibet,” Aunt Moss said. “And maybe some chopped up almonds, and some chocolate curls?”
“Chocolate curls?” Benson said. It made him hungry just thinking about it. “What are they?”
“Oh you know,” Aunt Lillibet said, “when you get a big piece of chocolate and you scrape some off the top and it curls up like a ribbon. You can make lots of them and put them on top of the icing on the cake. But that’s not the best part.”
“There’s a better part?” Benson said. “Better than cake with jelly and peaches and icing and sprinkles and chocolate curls?” He couldn’t wait to hear what could be better than that.
His mother gave a sharp tug and pulled the splinter out. “There!” she said.
“Ow!” said Benson.
“The best part,” Aunt Lillibet said, “is that the splinter is out of your finger.”
Benson looked at his finger. There was a small hole where the splinter used to be, but that was all. It felt much better already.
He looked at Aunt Lillibet and Aunt Moss and his mother. “Were you just making it up about the cake so you could get the splinter out without me noticing?” He felt very disappointed. Now that the splinter was out, he forgot how much it had hurt, but he hadn’t forgotten what the cake was going to be like.
“Maybe,” said his mother. “But I think Aunt Lillibet might make us a jelly cake for lunch, if you ask her nicely.”
Benson asked very very nicely, and Aunt Lillibet made a wonderful jelly cake. She even let Benson make the chocolate curls.