Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a nice, comfortable wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
Benson’s Uncle Elton loved machines and machinery. Sometimes he would get an idea and then he would make something out of all sorts of things that he had in his shed, screws and pipes and bits of wood and string and metal.
One day when Aunt Lillibet was visiting, he showed her the newest thing he had made. “It’s a leaf-blower,” he said. It had a long metal tube and a motor at one end, and a switch.
“What does it do?” asked Aunt Lillibet.
“It’s for blowing leaves,” Elton said. “When all the leaves fall off the trees in autumn, they make a mess everywhere. I used to have to rake them all up, but this is much faster. Watch this.”
He point the tubey part of the leaf-blower at the ground and pressed the switch. A huge noise started, and hot air whooshed out. Leaves and dirt blew everywhere, swirling in the air.
He turned it off and everything went quiet. Aunt Lillibet sneezed some of the dirt out of her nose. “That’s amazing,” she coughed.
Uncle Elton said, “It’s great, isn’t it? But that’s not all. If I turn the switch the other way, it sucks!” He turned the switch the other way and the noise started up again. But this time the leaf blower sucked up all the leaves and dirt and sticks in its path. They went up the tube and blew out the back of the leaf blower in a huge, dusty cloud.
Aunt Lillibet coughed and sneezed and blew her nose. “Can I borrow it?” she wheezed.
“If you like,” Uncle Elton said. “But be careful with it. It’s not exactly right yet. I’m still working on it.”
Aunt Lillibet carried it home excitedly. “Look what I’ve got!” she said to Benson’s mother. “Elton made it. It’s a leaf blower.”
“Why would you want a leaf blower?” Benson’s mother said. “We’ve got a perfectly good rake.”
“You’ll see,” Lillibet said. She had an idea. “Why don’t we see who’s fastest at cleaning up the leaves? You use the rake and do that half of the yard, and I’ll use the leaf blower and do this half of the yard!”
Benson’s mother got the rake, Aunt Lillibet said, “Ready, set, go!” and they started. Benson’s mother raked quickly and quietly and made a tidy pile. Aunt Lillibet turned on the leaf blower and a huge noise filled the air. Leaves and dirt flew everywhere. All the leaves from Aunt Lillibet’s half blew over to Benson’s mother’s half, and the tidy pile untidied itself and spread out everywhere again.
“I won!” said Aunt Lillibet.
“But you just moved them over to this side!” Benson’s mother said.
“No problem,” Lillibet said. She turned the switch the other way and turned the leaf blower on again. This time it sucked up every single leaf from Benson’s mother’s side of the yard. “See? It’s great, isn’t it?” Lillibet said.
Benson’s mother pointed to Aunt Lillibet’s half of the yard. All the leaves had blown out of the back of the leaf blower and it was covered in leaves again.
“Oh, well, nobody’s perfect,” Aunt Lillibet said. “Watch what else it can do.” She took the leaf blower over to the vegetable patch and pointed it at the ground. Foop! Foop! Foop! Three carrots came sucking out of the ground and flew out of the back of the leaf blower. “See? And you could use it to dry the clothes on the line quicker. Watch this!”
There was a row of clean towels drying on the clothesline. Aunt Lillibet pointed the blower at them and blew. The towels flapped around madly, the pegs flew off and the towels blew into the big peppermint gum.
“I think that’s enough, Lillibet,” said Benson’s mother.
“Wait, I can fix that,” Lillibet said. She pointed the leaf blower up into the tree and blew. The towels blew down and landed in a pile of dirt at the bottom of the tree. A lot of gumnuts and leaves and three birds’ nests blew out of the tree as well and landed on top of the towels.
“There you are,” Aunt Lillibet said. “That’s fixed that.”
Benson’s mother said, “Lillibet, that’s enough! Stop!”
“I haven’t even started yet,” Lillibet said. She took the leaf lower inside.
Benson’s mother hurried after her. Aunt Lillibet went into the bathroom. Aunt Moss had just had a bath and was drying herself. “I can get you dry in two seconds,” Aunt Lillibet said to her.
“I don’t think so,” said Aunt Moss, backing away.
“You’ll be dry in a flash!” Aunt Lillibet said, pointing the blower at her. Aunt Moss squeaked and ran out the door.
Benson’s mother said, “I think you’d better give that to me, Lillibet.”
Aunt Lillibet said, “No, I’ve got the best idea ever!” She put the end of the leaf-blower in the bath water. “Bubble bath!” she said, and pressed the switch. The water in the bath bubbled and fizzed. “And when you want to empty the bath, you just turn the switch the other way.”
“Don’t, Lillibet!” yelled Benson’s mother, but it was too late. Aunt Lillibet had already turned the switch.
Water shot out of the back of the leaf blower like a fountain and hit the roof and sprayed everywhere, all over the walls and the floor and every other thing in the room, including Aunt Lillibet and Benson’s mother.
Aunt Lillibet turned off the leaf-blower. She was dripping from head to toe. She took off her hat and squeezed the water out of it. “Could I have a towel please?” she said.
Benson’s mother gave her a towel. It was covered in dirt and sticks and gumnuts.
“Thank you,” said Aunt Lillibet. She handed the leaf-blower to Benson’s mother. “I think that’s enough,” she said.