Ow! That was a thistle. Luke poked and scratched at it with a stick until it broke away from its roots and could be pushed aside. He then rubbed his grazed wrist and forged ahead, emerging moments later on the other side of the hedge. Simon Butler’s back garden.
It wasn’t the first time Luke had gained illegal entry to Simon Butler’s garden but if all went well it might be the last. He’d been eleven times before, to visit the rabbit. Simon kept his rabbit in a small wooden hutch at the end of the garden, near the dustbins. He used to let her out to play when he first got her but after a couple of months, when the novelty had worn off, he only visited his pet for five minutes once a day to refill her food and water. Luke felt sorry for her. He could see the hutch from his bedroom window next door. When he borrowed his dad’s binoculars he could even see the rabbit.
“She must be so sad and fed up. And bored,” he said to the Robin Hood poster on his wardrobe door, “I’m going to visit her.”
A couple of times a week for the last month and a half, Luke had endured scratches and scuffs, and the hedge had endured bends and breaks, so that the rabbit could have a bit of company. He always took her something from Dad’s vegetable patch – a bit of lettuce, or a carrot maybe – and after the first few times she seemed pleased to see him. She put her face close to the wire and eagerly tugged at the treats he pushed through to her. But he had to be careful not to get caught.
Simon was a smarty-pants who always did his homework and always got good marks. He was good at sports and he was good at maths. He was always the first to put up his hand in class and his shoes were always clean. Irritating though all of that was, Luke could have let it go if Simon hadn’t done something unforgivable.
Luke’s best friend, Joe, was not very fast and he was not very clever. He was last to be picked for every team game and first to be told off in every lesson for not knowing the answer. But he always took it on the chin. He shrugged it off. Sports weren’t his thing. Maths wasn’t his thing. He wasn’t especially enamoured with science or history either but that didn’t worry him. He was the best friend Luke had ever had and was totally reliable. He had kept his mouth shut when Luke tripped over his shoe laces and knocked Mrs Tebbut’s mug of tea all over her desk; he had kept it to himself when Luke accidentally cracked Mrs Tebbut’s windscreen with a cricket ball. He was the kind of friend who could always be depended on.
So when Smarty-Pants told Mrs Tebbut that Joe had copied his test and Joe got sent to the Head Master for cheating, Luke was very cross. Simon Smarty-Pants Butler was a tell-tale and a liar. He could never be trusted. And he didn’t like Luke any more than Luke liked him. It was vital that Luke didn’t get caught.
to be continued …
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