Engines in Sidings: Duck’s New Paint

“What colour paint would you like, Duck?” asked The Fat Controller.

Duck heard the question, but he was certain that he could not have heard it correctly.

“Beg pardon Sir?”

“All the engines on this Railway may choose what colour they would like to be painted,” explained The Fat Controller.

“There isn’t a livery?” asked Duck in confusion.

The Fat Controller laughed. “Not as such, no.”

“But I saw two blue engines on my way here. Your Number 2 and 4?” Duck had also seen a green engine, Number 3. Despite that, he rather hoped this difficult question would turn out to be some sort of joke. It felt like a test.

“Only the first few engines who joined this Railway wear blue now,” said The Fat Controller. “You can pick any colour you would like.”

Duck didn’t like being asked to pick at all. He didn’t much care for his black paint, but being painted black hadn’t been up to him. When his old Railway had been folded into the Other Railway, he had been painted black to match the rest of their engines. As right he should have been, thought Duck. It was for a Railway’s Controller to decide the paint colours, not engines!

It was also not for engines to argue with orders and The Fat Controller told him to pick a colour for himself. So Duck tried. He was a Great Western engine, and Great Westerns should be painted green. Being painted Great Western green again…

Duck cut that line of thought off before he could get too cozy with the idea. Wearing another Railway’s livery simply wasn’t done. Duck would never dare to ask for such a thing. He didn’t want to look cheeky or to make The Fat Controller cross with him. Great Western green was right out.

He supposed he could be satisfied being Just Green. It wouldn’t be Great Western green, but he could be the same green that Number 3 was. The Fat Controller said he could be any colour he wanted…

What he really wanted was to be whatever colour The Fat Controller wanted him to be and to leave it at that.

The Fat Controller cleared his throat impatiently.

“Beg pardon Sir,” said Duck finally. “I don’t look as much anymore, but I am still a Great Western engine. We Great Westerns are proud to wear whichever colour our Controllers want without complaint. I didn’t expect to be asked at all Sir,” he explained nervously. “I hope you won’t take it as shirking an order, Sir, but I’d rather you picked a colour for me.”

“You’ve never once wanted to be painted another colour?” asked The Fat Controller. He seemed amused and maybe a little sad, but he wasn’t cross.

“Only when I was being painted black Sir,” admitted Duck. “I wanted to keep my old paint, but it’s not an engine’s place to argue if he wants to be Useful.”

The Fat Controller made a funny snorting noise then and turned away. Duck was worried he’d accidentally blown soot on him, but he didn’t seem cross. He stood there thinking. Duck waited while The Fat Controller thought about what to do.

“How would you like,” said The Fat Controller finally, “to be painted in your old colours, Duck?”

Duck was sure he hadn’t heard that question correctly either.

“Do you mean,” he asked carefully, “in Great Western colours?”

“Yes, Duck. You’ll have to wait for it. We will need to bring in someone special to make sure your lettering is done right, but…” Duck didn’t hear after that. His old livery! It wasn’t the Done Thing at all, but The Fat Controller offered it so it must be all right. It would be improper to question him even. He had asked The Fat Controller to pick a colour for him and so he had.

Duck was so happy that he accidentally peeped his whistle. It startled The Fat Controller and he stopped speaking.

“Beg pardon Sir,” apologized Duck. “Yes, I would like that very much, Sir. Thank you, Sir!”

“Now Duck,” said The Fat Controller sternly, “if you are wearing Great Western colours, you must be an example of Great Western ways as well as Ours.”

“I always am Sir,” he said earnestly. “But not everyone likes it.” The Other Railway certainly had not much cared to hear about how things were done on the Great Western.

“We shall see how I like it,” said The Fat Controller. “I want you to do your work in the Great Western way and if there is a problem, I will tell you so.”

And Duck did. He ran the Yard in his Great Western Way and though the other engines often grumbled about bustling about, their coaches and cars were on time every time. The other engines soon learned that if they wanted to complain, they should do it quietly where The Fat Controller couldn’t hear.

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