Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a warm, dry wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
One day there was a Mishap in the kitchen. Benson’s mother was cooking some rhubarb in the big stewpot but she had to go out to a meeting, so she asked Aunt Moss to watch it, but Aunt Moss accidentally dozed off. When Benson’s mother got home, all that was left was a black mess burnt to the bottom of the pot, and a nasty smell all through the house.
“I’m sorry,” Aunt Moss said, holding her nose. The smell really was awful. “I tried scrubbing it as hard as I could, but it just wore a hole in the bottom of the pot.”
Benson’s mother picked up the pot and held it up to the light. She could see right through the hole in the bottom. “You’re right, Moss. Never mind, it will make a nice plant pot now.”
Aunt Moss clapped her hands. “Oh yes! If we took the handles off, and decorated it, we could give it to Elton. He loves unusual plant pots.”
Uncle Elton had parsley growing out of a teapot, and pansies growing in a gumboot.
Aunt Moss asked Benson if he would help her decorate the stewpot. “Uncle Elton loves birds, so if you draw some birds, I’ll cut them out and stick them onto the pot.”
“Okay,” Benson said. “What birds should I draw?”
“Let’s have a look in Aunt Lillibet’s bird book and choose our favourites,” Aunt Moss suggested. They got the book and started turning the pages.
“I like this turkey,” Benson said, “and the owl.”
“Oh, yes,” said Aunt Moss. “They both look friendly and cheery.”
“There won’t be room for a turkey and an owl too,” Benson said. “The pot’s not big enough.”
“I know!” said Aunt Moss. “We can put the pot in a big paper bag to take it over to Elton’s. We’ll put the turkey on the stewpot, and you can draw a friendly owl on the bag.”
Benson went to his room and set to work. He drew a fat, red turkey with bright, yellow eyes and skinny black legs, then he started drawing a cheerful owl with big round eyes, on the paper bag. He was trying to get the beak right when Aunt Lillibet came along.
“Benson, could you come and help me weed the broccoli, please?” she said.
Benson said, “Sorry, Aunt Lillibet, I can’t. Aunt Moss told me to draw a stewpot turkey.”
“What?” Aunt Lillibet said. Her face went a funny purple colour.
Benson remembered that old people sometimes don’t hear very well, so he said it a bit louder. “She said to draw a stewpot turkey, and a smiley owl bag.”
“Well, really!” Aunt Lillibet said. She marched off.
At lunchtime, Aunt Lillibet wasn’t talking to anyone. Aunt Moss said, “Lillibet, I’m going to Elton’s this afternoon to take him a new plant pot. Would you like to come?”
“Why would you want to go with a smelly old bag like me?” Aunt Lillibet said, angrily.
Aunt Moss was very confused. “What are you talking about, Lillibet?”
“Isn’t that what you told Benson that I am?” Aunt Lillibet said, getting more and more angry. “A stupid turkey, and a smelly old bag! “
Aunt Moss was very upset. “I would never say things like that, Lillibet!”
“Well, that’s what Benson said you said!” Aunt Lillibet shouted.
“No, I didn’t!” Benson said.
Benson’s mother said, “Calm down, everyone. Benson, what did you say to Aunt Lillibet?”
“Nothing!” Benson said. “All I said was that Aunt Moss told me to draw a turkey to put on the stewpot, and a smiley owl on the paper bag.”
His mother thought hard. “Did you tell Aunt Lillibet that Aunt Moss said to draw a stewpot turkey?” she asked.
“That’s right,” Benson said.
“A stewpot turkey?” Aunt Lillibet said. “I’ve never heard of any such thing!”
“And what else were you drawing, Benson?” his mother asked.
“I drew a smiley owl on the paper bag,” he said.
“A smiley owl bag?” his mother said slowly and clearly.
Aunt Lillibet’s face was red. “Oh,” she said. She felt very silly. She turned to Aunt Moss and said, “I’m sorry I said those things to you, Moss.”
“That’s all right, Lillibet,” said Aunt Moss. “It was only a little misunderstanding.”
“I should have known you would never say things like that,” Lillibet said. “I think I was a bit of a stewpot turkey, and a silly old bag.”
“Oh no, you’re not stupid, Lillibet, and you’re not silly!” Aunt Moss said.