Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a safe, dry wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
Aunt Moss wasn’t feeling well. She had a headache and she felt hot and cold all over.
Benson’s mother said, “Why don’t you go to bed, and I’ll bring you a nice cup of camomile tea?”
“It feels worse when I lie down,” Aunt Moss said. “I don’t want any tea – my throat hurts. Everything hurts,” she said sadly.
Benson felt sorry for her. “Is there anything that will make you feel better, Aunt Moss? I can make you a sandwich, if you like.”
“No, thankyou, Benson,” she said. “I don’t want anything to eat. I just feel awful.” She sat in her chair and shivered.
Aunt Lillibet said, “They say music has the power to heal.”
Benson said, “Really? Do you think music might make Aunt Moss feel better?”
“It might,” Aunt Lillibet said. “You never know till you try.”
Benson decided to try. He set off for Nanna’s place.
“Aunt Moss is sick, and Aunt Lillibet thinks that music might make her feel better,” he told Nanna.
“I can come over and sing for her, if you like,” Nanna said. Nanna loved to sing songs in other languages, very loudly. “I could ask Ralph to play his violin,” she offered.
“Okay,” Benson said. The more music, the faster Aunt Moss would get better, he thought.
“I’ll go and get Ralph and we’ll come over,” Nanna said.
On the way home, Benson went to his Uncle Elton’s place. He explained that Aunt Moss was sick, and she needed some music to make her feel better.
Uncle Elton said brightly, “Elmer can play the drums for her, can’t you, Elmer?”
Elmer nodded. He got out his drumsticks and showed Benson the drum-kit his father had made for him, out of old saucepans and empty tins. “Listen to this!” he said. Boom, crash, tchk-tchk, clang, boom, bang!
Benson wasn’t so sure that counted as music.
Uncle Elton said, “And I’ve made myself a bush bass, so we can play together.” He showed Benson what he had made. It was a long stick joined to a box at one end, with a long string tied from top to bottom. He started to play: plungg, plungg, plungg. Elmer joined in. Boom, plungg, crash, twang, tchk-tchk, crash!
Benson thought it would probably sound better if they weren’t all inside a wombat hole, or if they were inside and he was outside. He expected Aunt Moss would like it anyway.
“We’ll pack everything up and come over,” Uncle Elton said.
When Benson got back, Aunt Moss was still sitting in her chair, shivering and feeling bad. Benson said, “I’ve got a surprise for you, Aunt Moss, something to make you feel better.”
There was a knock at the door and Uncle Elton and Elmer arrived, with the drums and the bush bass. Then there was another knock at the door, and Nanna came in, with Ralph and his violin.
“They’re going to make music for you!” Benson said, delightedly.
Aunt Lillibet disappeared, and came back with her bagpipes. “Mind if I join in?” she said.
She took a deep breath and blew into the bagpipes. Wheee-whonnng! Uncle Elton said, “Fabulous!”
Benson went and got his saxophone and played along, boodley, boodley, boodley. Uncle Elton and Elmer joined in. Tchk-tchk, crash! Plungg, plungg, tchk-tchk, bam!
Nanna smiled and shouted, “Come on, Ralph!” Ralph started to play, and Nanna sang. She had to sing extra loudly because the bagpipes and drums were so loud.
Aunt Moss went very pale and shook all over.
Benson’s mother hurried off to her room and came back with her big, pink, fluffy ear-muffs. She popped them onto Aunt Moss’s ears, and put a woolly hat over them, and wrapped a thick scarf around that.
“Is that better?” she said.
“What?” said Aunt Moss. “I can’t hear a thing.” She looked at Nanna and Uncle Elton and Elmer and Ralph and Aunt Lillibet and Benson having such a good time, and she started to smile. She waved her hands and clapped whenever they stopped for a breath.
It was so loud that Benson couldn’t hear himself playing, and his ears were starting to hurt, so he went outside and dug a nice deep hole and sat in it. The music sounded much better that way. His mother came out with her hands over her ears. After a while she got into the hole with him.
When all the music was over, Benson’s mother made chervil tea and sweet potato pancakes for everybody. Even Aunt Moss had some.
Benson said to his mother, “Music is really magic, isn’t it? Don’t you think Aunt Moss looks better?”
His mother said, “I think she’s happy that everyone came to try and make her feel better, because they care about her.” She smiled at him. “Good work, Benson,” she said.