Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a safe, warm wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
Aunt Lillibet went to see Uncle Elton, and Benson went with her, to play with his cousin, Elmer. Uncle Elton was fixing the rake that Aunt Lillibet had broken when she accidentally raked a rock hidden inside a pile of leaves.
“I’ve fixed your rake,” Uncle Elton said, “and I’ve made a few modifications.”
“That means he’s added some things to make it better,” Elmer told Benson.
“I’ve put on a new handle, twice as long as the old one,” Elton said excitedly. He always got excited about inventing things and having great ideas. “Now you can reach up into the tree and rake the leaves even before they fall!”
“I don’t want to rake the leaves that haven’t fallen down,” Aunt Lillibet said, “only the ones that are making a mess on the ground.” She took the rake and tried it out. “It’s much too long, and much too heavy,” she said.
“I can fix that,” Uncle Elton said. He took his saw and zazzed off the handle so it was hardly as long as Aunt Lillibet’s arm. “There! Much lighter and easier to use!”
“Now it’s too short! I have to bend over to reach the ground!” Lillibet said. “Really, Elton, this is useless. You’ll have to put a new handle on it.”
While Uncle Elton put a new handle on the rake, Benson and Elmer played knights and dragons with the old bits of handle. By the time he was finished, it was lunch-time and Benson was getting hungry.
“Would you like to stay for lunch?” Elton said. “It’s nothing special, just a light, fresh salad.”
Uncle Elton like to cook, but he also liked to try out new ideas, and when he tried out new ideas to eat, you had to watch out. Aunt Lillibet thought a fresh salad should be pretty safe. “Yes, we’d love to,” she said.
They all washed their hands and set the table while Elton got the salad ready.
Benson was very hungry, and the salad looked delicious. He started eating straight away. Aunt Lillibet was a bit more careful. “What’s in it?” she asked.
“Mostly lettuce and tomatoes,” Elton said, “and some chopped broccoli. And a little bit of parsley.”
“Anything else?” Lillibet asked.
“No, except for a few slices of avocado. And a sprinkling of fennel seeds,” he said.
“And that’s all?” Lillibet said.
“Yes, that’s all,” Elton said.
“Nothing else at all?” Lillibet said, still peering at the salad.
“Absolutely nothing else,” Elton said. “Except the weevils.”
Benson already had his mouth full of salad. He stopped chewing suddenly.
“Did you say weevils?” Aunt Lillibet said.
“For added protein,” Elton said happily. “They’re perfectly fresh.”
Aunt Lillibet looked closely at the salad bowl. “So fresh they’re still moving,” she said. She put her fork down.
Benson looked at his plate. Now that he looked, he could see little white weevils squirming around among the leaves. Then he saw that one of the weevils was only half a weevil. That could only mean one thing. His stomach turned over.
He put his hand over his mouth. He said, “I think I’m going to be…”
“Don’t speak with your mouth full, Benson,” Aunt Lillibet said.
He went to get up and rush to the bathroom, but Aunt Lillibet pushed him down again. “We’re still in the middle of eating lunch, Benson,” she said.
Benson couldn’t help himself. The salad in his insides came rushing back up again. He vomited everywhere.
“Benson!” Aunt Lillibet screeched. She was so embarrassed she didn’t know where to look. “I’m so sorry, Elton. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life. Such disgusting behaviour!” She took Benson’s hand, the one with the least amount of vomit on it, and took him home at once.
When Benson’s mother saw him covered in vomit and smelling like a walking compost heap, she said, “What happened?”
“Benson behaved in the most appalling way at Elton’s!” Aunt Lillibet said. “He vomited all over everyone and everything. I’ll never be able to look Elton in the face again! I’m so embarrassed! I was mortified!”
Benson’s mother put him in the bath and listened while he told her the whole story. He said, “I saw the half of the weevil and I knew I must have eaten the other half, and I could kind of feel it worming around inside me, and I couldn’t help it, it just all came vomiting up.”
His mother nodded. “If your stomach wants to bring something up and get rid of it, there’s not much you can do about it,” she said. “Never mind, I’m sure Uncle Elton understands. I’ll go and see him tomorrow.”
The next day she went to see Uncle Elton. When she came back, she said to Aunt Lillibet, “I explained everything to Elton, and he understands completely. I invited him and Elmer to come and have lunch with us.”
“Oh no!” Aunt Lillibet said. “I can’t face him, after what Benson did! I’m absolutely mortified!”
Benson’s mother said, “Don’t worry, it will be fine. Just don’t mention salad in front of Benson.”
She and Benson made a very nice pumpkin and zucchini pie, and squeezed some oranges to make orange juice.
“This is yummy,” Uncle Elton said, “isn’t it, Elmer? Even without the extra protein. I’m sorry the little weevils disagreed with young Benson. I must say, Elmer and I love them, don’t we Elmer?”
Elmer was starting on his second piece of pie. He said with his mouth full, “Not so much the weevils. I never eat them, anyway. I always brush them off the leaves onto the floor.”
Aunt Lillibet couldn’t help herself. She snorted loudly. Unfortunately she had just taken a big mouthful of orange juice. Orange juice sprayed out of her mouth, and out of her nose, all over the table. There were streaks of orange juice all down her front.
She went bright red. Benson said, “Do you need a handkerchief, Aunt Lillibet?”
Aunt Lillibet got up from the table and rushed into her room and slammed the door.
“Oh dear,” Uncle Elton said. “That was a bit embarrassing, wasn’t it? Still, it could happen to anyone.”
Benson said, “I don’t think she’s embarrassed. I think she’s absolutely mortified!”