Engines in Sidings: Godred

One evening, the other mountain engines came into the Shed to find Shane Dooiney already there and looking gloomy. They asked him what was the matter.

“A tooth broke off one of my pinion wheels,” he said sadly, ”and they say they have to replace it.”

“That’s not so bad,” said Patrick. “They know how to mend us at the Steamworks now. You won’t have to go to Switzerland like we used to.” Alaric and Eric agreed reassuringly, but Wilfred, Culdee, and Ernest were more sympathetic.

“Those were Godred’s wheels, weren’t they?” asked Ernest.

“Yes. They say they can’t just weld the tooth back on,” explained Shane Dooiney. “They can’t trust it not to break again. They’re going to give me new wheels instead.”

“When you used to tell me about Godred to scare me,” sniffed Patrick, “he sounded quite silly indeed. You ought to be happy not to have his silly old wheels anymore, Shane.”

“He was silly,” said Culdee, “but our Railway might have closed if not for him.”

“How’s that?” Alaric and Eric were listening raptly too.

“After Godred’s accident,” said Culdee, “they kept him in the back of the Shed. Our Railway had no money to send him to Winterthur, so he couldn’t be mended. And every evening when we would come in, he would grumble about how dull sitting and staying was.”

“We all told him it served him right to have to stay,” added Wilfred, “reckless as he’d been.”

“Just that,” agreed Culdee. “But one day, one of Wilfred’s connecting rods broke.” Wilfred looked away embarrassed at this.

“Wilfred wasn’t reckless like Godred was. It was just wear and tear,” appeased Culdee, “but The Railway didn’t have money to send him away to be mended either. There was too much work to have two engines out of service. Everyone was worried about what to do.”

“That night, we weren’t let into the Shed like usual. They made us wait. Wilfred’s Driver and the Manager were inside, talking to Godred.” Culdee frowned. “He didn’t tell us until years later what they talked about.”

“They told him they were going to take one of his connecting rods and give it to Wilfred. ‘And they weren’t asking,’ he said. They told Godred that he must help keep the Railway running because if he didn’t he would never be mended himself. As long as the Railway was open though, Godred could still be mended one day. ‘But the most important thing,’ he said, ‘was that they said this was a way for me to be Useful, even while stuck in the Shed.’”

“So he gave his connecting rod to Wilfred and Wilfred was put back to work. And after that, instead of complaining, he would ask what Wilfred and his connecting rod did and saw that day.” Culdee sighed glumly. “It wasn’t very long before he was asking all of us.”

“Godred would say that once he was mended,” said Shane Dooiney, smiling as he remembered, “keeping a Good Look-out on his rails would be a nice change after looking at these walls for so long.”

“But he never did get mended,” said Eric sadly.

“No, he didn’t. I don’t think the Manager meant to lie,” said Culdee gently, “but it was a long journey in those days. We always try to be careful, but breakdowns happen. Every time one of us broke a part, Godred would give us his so we could keep working. But Godred kept getting smaller and smaller in his corner.”

“He didn’t notice at first, but we did,” said Wilfred. “The more of himself he gave away to us, the more he’d need to have replaced later. We tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t hear sense about it though. ‘The Railway had to stay open,’ he said, ‘so that was most important.’”

“When the Railway finally did have the money to send us for overhauls,” said Culdee, “the Manager saw it would be more expensive to replace all his parts than it would to get a new engine. We were out-of-date,” Culdee gave Patrick a rueful smirk at this, “and many of our parts would have to be made special for us now which costs more. Godred became very sad once he understood.”

Patrick, Alaric, and Eric all looked at each other guiltily.

“They would still have bought the lot of you,” pointed out Wilfred. “They couldn’t send us for overhaul without more engines to do our work while we were away.”

“That’s right,” said Culdee. “And Godred had already decided that he was ready to be scrapped before that was ever a thought.”

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