A Quiet Afternoon Tea

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

One morning at breakfast time, Aunt Moss said, “I was thinking it would be nice to invite some friends over for afternoon tea today, to celebrate World Friendship Day.”

Benson’s mother said, “I’m sorry, Moss, I can’t spare any time today. I’ve got so much work to do, and besides, I have to take back Hazel’s hammer that Aunt Lillibet borrowed to fix the washing machine, and I promised to take Uncle Elton the recipe for the spinach and coriander loaf that he likes so much, and Aunt Lillibet wants me to take the headband she made for Bonnie Lou, around to Delia’s. There aren’t enough hours in the day!” she said, sounding tired already.

Aunt Moss said, “What if we just invited Nanna for a quiet afternoon tea? Benson and I would get everything ready. You wouldn’t have to worry about a thing. We could deliver all those things to Hazel and Elton and Bonnie Lou on the way to Nanna’s, couldn’t we, Benson?”

Benson nodded enthusiastically. Afternoon tea with Nanna nearly always involved cake and maybe even muffins, poppy-seed muffins, or apricot and almond muffins, or zucchini and walnut muffins, he thought happily.

His mother said, “Oh, all right then. Just a quiet afternoon tea with Nanna. We wouldn’t want to miss World Friendship Day, would we?”

Benson helped Aunt Moss clean and tidy, then he made a nice invitation for Nanna, and they set off.

Aunt Moss said, “I want to deliver a note to Mr Fenn about his rhubarb plants. I think this is his house, with the blue door.”

“Isn’t that where the new wombats live, Rodney and his mother, Polly?” Benson said.

“Oh no, dear, I haven’t met them yet, so how would I know where they live?” Aunt Moss said. She popped the note into the letter-box and they went on.

Next they went to Uncle Elton’s house. “We’re just bringing back your hammer,” Aunt Moss said.

Uncle Elton said, “That’s not my hammer. My hammer has a crack in the handle from when I was trying to de-frost the fridge.”

Aunt Moss said, “Oh, silly me! Then this headband that Lillibet made must be for you.”

“For me?” Elton said. “It’s lovely!” He tried it on straight away. “I love the pink sequins. I’ll have to come around and thank Lillibet properly.”

Aunt Moss and Benson went on. When they got to Bonnie Lou’s house, they knocked on the door. “We’ve brought your hammer back,” Aunt Moss said.

“That’s not my hammer,” Delia said. “Mick’s got my hammer out the back right now, trying to fix his sprocket wheel.” They could hear a loud clanging coming from the back yard.

“Oh, silly me,” said Aunt Moss. “This recipe must be for you then.”

Delia said, “Spinach and coriander loaf? Thankyou! My garden’s bursting with spinach. I’ll try it right now!”

Aunt Moss and Benson went on, until they came to Nanna’s house. “We’ve brought your hammer back,” Aunt Moss said.

“That’s not my hammer,” Nanna said. “This is my hammer,” she said, holding up an old hammer with a well-worn handle. “I was just cracking some macadamias with it.”

“Oh, silly me,” said Aunt Moss. “Anyway, this invitation is for you.”

But when Nanna opened the invitation, she said, “This isn’t an invitation and it isn’t for me. It’s a note for Mr Fenn about his rhubarb plants.”

“I must have mixed them up,” Aunt Moss said. “We wanted to invite you to come for afternoon tea today. We’re celebrating World Friendship Day.”

“I’d love to come,” Nanna said. “I’ll bring some macadamia shortbread.”

“Lovely!” said Aunt Moss. She and Benson went home and got everything ready. Aunt Moss made a big jug of mint tea, and some strawberry jelly, and Benson made celery sticks with peanut butter.

Benson’s mother came out, looking very tired. She said, “Isn’t this a lot of food for a quiet afternoon tea with Nanna?”

Just then there was a knock at the door. It was Rodney and his mother, Polly, and his little sister, Ada. “It’s so kind of you to invite us to afternoon tea,” Polly said. “We don’t know anyone, and it’s been very lonely.”

Benson’s mother was surprised, but she said, “Come in! I’m glad you came.”

There was another knock at the door. It was Delia, with Mick and Bonnie Lou. “I tried out the recipe for spinach and coriander loaf, and it was so good I made one for you too.”

Benson’s mother was very surprised, but she said, “Come in! It smells wonderful.”

There was another knock at the door. This time it was Uncle Elton, with Benson’s cousin Elmer. “I came over to thank Lillibet for the beautiful headband,” he said. “I love it!”

“It looks lovely on you,” Benson’s mother said, even more surprised. “Come in, both of you.”

“Mmmm, is that spinach and coriander loaf I can smell?” Uncle Elton asked. “I must get the recipe from you.”

There was another knock at the door. It was Nanna, and Mr Fenn. “Come in,” Benson’s mother said, giving Nanna a kiss. “It’s lovely to see you both.”

“I’ve brought the macadamia shortbread,” Nanna said. “I had to give Mr Fenn a note about his rhubarb, so I thought I would invite him too. I didn’t know it was going to be a big party.”

“Neither did I,” Benson’s mother said. “I’ve got a feeling it was all Moss’s idea.”

There was another knock at the door. “Who can this be?” Benson’s mother said. “I thought everyone we knew was already here.”

It was Hazel. “I came to get my hammer,” Hazel said.

“Hazel!” Aunt Moss said, delightedly. “I’m so glad you came! Come in and meet everybody!”

Hazel looked very shy and nearly went home again, but Aunt Moss held out the celery sticks with peanut butter. “Would you like some?” she said.

Hazel smiled, and said, “Yes, please! They’re my favourite!”

Soon everyone was talking to everyone. Polly was talking to Delia about growing spinach, Hazel was talking to Uncle Elton about his headband, and Elmer was playing hide and seek with Ada and Bonnie Lou. Then Hazel and Mr Fenn talked to Mick about sprocket wheels, and Delia and Polly asked Aunt Lillibet if she could make a headband like Elton’s for Ada and Bonnie Lou. Nanna talked to everyone.

Everyone had a wonderful time, and Benson’s mother didn’t feel tired at all any more. “The funny thing is,” she said, “World Friendship Day isn’t until July.”

“Oh, silly me!” said Aunt Moss.

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