Engines in Sidings: Last Lookout

Ready to be scrapped?” The younger engines gasped in horror.

“Yes,” said Culdee calmly. “It was a strange thing. It’s very sad to us, but he was relieved once he’d decided. One morning, he asked for the Manager to come to the Shed. They had a long talk after the rest of us left for our jobs. When we came back that evening, Godred wasn’t sad anymore. The Manager, he said, had made Arrangements for him the next day.”

“Didn’t you try to talk him out of it?” asked Alaric in alarm.

“We know it’s hard to understand,” explained Ernest, “but it would have been Useless to change his mind. It’s no life for an engine to be half his parts in the back of a Shed.”

“Certainly not,” concurred Culdee. “He wouldn’t have listened anyway. He was still King Godred.” He rolled his eyes in a fond way.

“That night,” he went on, “Godred tried to cheer us up. He joked that if we were going to break anymore, we should try to do it in new places, because the Manager would keep what pieces were still usable for us. He told us he was proud of all of us for taking his parts and being more Useful with them than he had ever been. And that we shouldn’t feel sorry for him or guilty that we got mended and he didn’t. The Manager had told him that as long as the Railway was open, he was still being Useful, even after he was gone.”

“None of us wanted to sleep, but Godred insisted. We’d still have our jobs the next day and he didn’t want us there when…” Everyone knew When so he went on.

“Morning came, and they had Shane pull him out of the Shed with the rest of us. That seemed fitting since Shane had his pinion wheels. That’s the most important part of a mountain engine.”

“He squinted really hard,” cut in Shane Dooiney. “He’d been in the Shed so long he wasn’t used to the sun anymore. Once he could see again, he looked every which way! ‘Look at that,’ he said to me. ‘It’s hardly my fault for not watching the track, now is it?” He looked at the ceiling as if he were annoyed, but his bottom lip quivered.

Culdee jumped back in so Shane Dooiney could collect himself. “They had him pull Godred out far away from the Shed so there wouldn’t be any danger of fire. The Manager stayed next to him and shooed us off on our jobs. ‘It will be hard today,’ he told us, ‘and so all of you must be more careful than usual.’”

“Then Godred said goodbye to all of us. We were all worried for him, being alone for… something like that, but he said the Manager would take care of him. So we all set out up the mountain and blew our whistles for him until we couldn’t see the Shed anymore.”

The engines all sat quiet for a moment; the younger ones giving the older ones their time.

“When we came back at the end of the day,” said Culdee finally, “he was gone. They had been very careful to be finished before then so we wouldn’t see any of it. They arranged us in the Shed so Godred’s place was empty. Then the Manager came in. He looked exhausted but he stayed with us and answered our questions and kept us company until we were all asleep. Ernest’s crew found him sleeping in his cab the next morning.”

“Godred was silly, right up to his last,” finished Culdee. “But he was brave too. We’ve all been given second, third, and fourth chances that he never got. Most of ours,” he said, looking around at his fellow older engines, “came at his expense.”

“I’m sorry I was rude about Godred’s wheels,” said Patrick. “I was only trying to cheer Shane up. No one ever told me he was so brave to give all of you his parts.”

“Of course not,” scoffed Wilfred. “You were silly enough like Godred over being named after Lord Harry. Imagine if we’d said you were brave like Godred too.”

“You might never have learnt sense!” said Ernest.

Patrick went pink at being teased, but he was proud they thought he was like the engine who saved the Mountain Railway. Then it occurred to him what might cheer up Shane Dooiney.

“The Manager said that as long as the Railway is open,” he said, “then Godred is still Useful. It’s not using his wheels that keeps the Railway open,” he said to Shane Dooiney. “It’s using the second chance he gave you.”

The other engines stared at him in surprise. Patrick had learned sense, but he’d never been wise before. Shane Dooiney looked thoughtful though.

“I suppose that’s right,” he said, “but I still wish I could keep them.”

When Shane Dooiney went to the Steamworks to be mended, he told them all about Godred’s wheels and how they had kept him in work all this time. The fitters there were moved by his story and arranged with his crew to send him back home with one of the wheels, the one with the broken tooth. When he arrived back at Kirk Machan, Shane Dooiney’s crew leaned the wheel against on the wall inside the Shed, in the place Godred used to sit. This way, all the engines remember how Useful he is.

The other mountain engines were impressed by Patrick’s sudden sense of wisdom. They say he might one day live up to being named after a Lord or maybe even a King. However, Patrick is content to be named after a good friend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.