The story continues from yesterday:
He crawled across the lawn feeling like Robin Hood or one of his band of outlaws, risking everything to save the innocent.
“I don’t care if Mrs Tebbut don’t think I’m Robin Hood material, that jus’ means I’m doin’ a good job foolin’ ’em,” he rationalized as his knees slid through the mud. “It’s good that I’m goin’ to be Sheriff of Nottin’am’s Guard Number two – then no one will guess that I am actually an outlaw in real life.”
When he reached the hutch he glanced towards the house to make sure he wasn’t being watched. The windows looked dark so it was impossible to tell. He’d have to be quick and hope for the best. He opened the hutch and reached for the rabbit.
“Shh shhh, it’s ok, I’m not gonna hurt ya,” he whispered reassuringly, “I’m savin’ ya, like Robin Hood savin’ damsons in distress from the Sheriff’s dungeon.”
He tucked her safely into his shirt and hurried back to the hedge. The rabbit wriggled and squirmed uncomfortably, her heart beating hard and fast.
“Ow! Stop scratchin’ me!” hissed Luke before regretfully adding “I’m sorry to tell you off, but it’s for your own good. I’m bein’ firm but fair,” and he crouched down to exit the way he’d come in.
As his left foot followed the rest of his body out of the Butler garden it knocked over a rake, which struck a gnome, which fell from its pedestal and broke with a crash. Mrs Butler opened the back door.
“Who’s there?” she shouted.
But no one was.
In his own back garden, Luke headed for Dad’s vegetable patch.
“Here you go Scratcher,” he said to the white rabbit as he closed the gate, “this is your new home.”
He placed her gently among the lettuces.
“There’s plenty to eat ‘ere see, we don’t mind sharin’. Dad’s always tellin’ me to share.”
Scratcher hungrily and gratefully tucked in. Nearby, between the carrots and the peas, a reddish brown rabbit and a grey rabbit watched with moderate interest as they nibbled and chewed. Luke made introductions.
“And there’s friends for you to play with. I rescued Rusty yes’dy but Ash just come today like you. They’re quiet but I think you’ll get on alright with ’em.”
It transpired that Luke, though quite new to outlawdom, was not one to procrastinate. As someone who hated being confined to his room, he sympathised with anyone imprisoned alone and was determined to help them. Ash and Rusty had been housed similarly to Scratcher in two different back gardens adjacent to the playing field. Spotting them during ball retrieval operations, Luke had decided that those damsons needed rescuing and was certain he was the outlaw for the job.
Luke kept his new friends company for the next ninety-eight minutes until the sound of his mum’s voice calling from the house reminded him that it was nearly tea time.
“I’ve got to go in for me tea now,” he explained, “but I’ll see you tomorrow,” and he showed Scratcher where she could sleep when she got tired.
Ash and Rusty didn’t need to be shown, being already aware of the small hole in the side of Dad’s shed made by Luke with Dad’s hammer. He had been very considerate in making the hole, ensuring that it was at the back so as not to look untidy to the casual observer; and making it just rabbit-sized. He was confident he’d thought of everything.
“Dad on’y uses it at weekends,” he concluded, “so you won’t be in nobody’s way in there at night.”
Feeling very satisfied with his first week of outlawing, he said goodnight and went inside. Mum had her back to him when he stepped into the kitchen.
“Is tea ready?”
“Yes, just about. You’d better go and wash your hands,” she said as she turned to face him. “Luke!” she gasped.
“Whaaat?” said Luke, frowning at his frowning parent.
To be continued ….
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