The old Roman fort is a perfect football pitch. The boys from the town like to play there and, if I ask really nicely, they let me play with them. I am always last picked because I’m not very good, but there is nothing better than chasing after a football. There are lots of rabbits at the fort, and they have dug their holes everywhere. There is nothing worse than running after a football and putting your foot into a rabbit hole. It isn’t just me that has tripped up over rabbit holes; it has happened to all of us. Once the football fell into an especially big rabbit hole and rolled down into the earth, and we couldn’t reach far enough to get it back.
The ball belonged to my friend Andrew. It was a birthday present from his aunt. Not only was he annoyed about losing his ball, but he was also going to have to tell her what had happened. His aunt is a school teacher and very strict. She was sure to give Andrew a row.
“There are too many rabbits here,” Andrew said.
“Something should be done about it,” said one of the boys. It was Colin Dixon that said that; his dad was a bank manager and he was always saying that something should be done about all sorts of thing—children playing in the street, or climbing trees. But there really were too many rabbits, and something needed to be done about it.
“Quite right,” said Andrew. Andrew is very clever and always knows exactly what to do. That’s why we’re good friends; He does all my thinking.
“What are we going to do?” I asked.
“A rabbit hunt,” he said. Some of the boys laughed, but I knew better.
“I don’t know why you’re laughing,” he said. “I catch them all the time and take them home, and my Mother makes them into rabbit pie. I’m going to go rabbit hunting this Saturday, around five o’clock. Anyone want to come?”
The boys shuffled around a bit. None of them wanted to get up that early.
Andrew looked directly at me. Well, of course, I couldn’t say no to my best friend.
“I’ll come,” I said.
“Good,” said Andrew. “And bring a golf club.”
“A golf club?” said one of the other boys, I’m pretty sure it was the Dixon boy again. “What do you want with a golf club?”
“You’ll find out on Saturday,” Andrew said.
So it was all arranged. I set my alarm clock and eventually, I nodded off.
When the alarm rang, it was still dark so I slipped downstairs. Dad’s golf clubs were in a bag by the back door. I picked out the smallest one and nipped out.
“Is that you?” Andrew asked when I arrived.
“Yes, it’s me,” I answered. “What do we do now?”
“You’ve got a golf club, don’t you? Wait by one of the rabbit holes. When daylight comes, Mr. Rabbit sticks his head out the hole for a sniff around. Then, you take a swing with the golf club and hit him on the head. It’s the humane way to kill them.”
I stood with a foot on either side of a rabbit hole the way my dad showed me when he tried to teach me how to play golf. I waited for a few minutes but no rabbit popped its head up. Andrew was by another hole and wasn’t having any better luck.
“What we need is a ferret,” Andrew said. “My Dad has one, but he won’t let me take it in case it runs away.”
I’d been to Andrew’s house loads of times, but he’d never shown me his Dad’s ferret.
“That’s because ferrets are very dangerous,” he told me.
Without a ferret to chase the rabbits out of their holes, so that we could hit them on the head with our golf clubs, it was clear that we were not going to catch any rabbits.
“Stick your golf club down the rabbit hole and poke them so that they wake up and come running out the other hole,” Andrew said.
I pushed the putter into the hole as far as it would go. Andrew bent it into a curve, and it went in much deeper. I was able to push it right into the rabbit hole, and then, I was able to push my arm in as well, so it went in really deep.
“Just a few more inches,” said Andrew. I pushed the club as far as I could. But no rabbits came out the other end. Unfortunately, I had pushed the golf club so deep into the hole that I could not get it back out and had to leave it there.
I’m writing this, so people know there is a golf club buried in a rabbit hole in the Roman camp. People who dig up old things from the past will start to dig there looking for animal bones and coins and stuff. How surprised they’ll be to find an old golf club. The person digging up the golf club will get very excited and probably write a book about how Romans played golf. Perhaps they will get the Nobel Prize for digging up old things. They’d get famous and rich until someone says: “Hold on, this golf club says MADE in ENGLAND on it, and England wasn’t invented until after Roman times.” Then the Nobel-Prize-winning person would get embarrassed and people would laugh at him. So it’s very important that people know that it’s not a Roman golf club at all and that Romans didn’t play golf and that I put the golf club down there by mistake when I was hunting rabbits.
And if they find a football, that’s not Roman either; it belongs to Andrew and it fell down a rabbit hole while we were playing football, and could we have our ball back, please.
By David Rae