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The Waiting is the second story of volume four.

The Waiting
Season 4A, Episode 2 (78)
TheWaiting.png
Air date 23 January 2022
Written by MainLineEngines
Directed by MainLineEngines
Episode guide
Previous
As the Deer Longs
Next
Toby and the Whistling Woods

Plot

Thomas and Henry often have a guaranteed connection at the Junction. It is there that passengers can change trains and travel down Thomas's Branch Line or back to the Main Line.

One day, Thomas had just arrived at the platform when not long afterwards, Henry steamed in.

"Right on time," observed Thomas.

"As usual," replied Henry. "I'm not sure why you're so surprised."

"Hey, I still remember the times when you were ill and you'd come in very late," explained Thomas.

"Those days seem so long ago," chuckled Henry.

"Not to me!"

"Well that's your problem," retorted Henry. "Besides, I'm usually on time now, and you've had your fair share of delays."

"I'm never late!" huffed Thomas.

Annie and Clarabel giggled.

"Well, only because of outside circumstances," he quickly corrected himself.

"So you say," said Henry, loftily.

The following day, Thomas puffed out of the shed, collected Annie and Clarabel, and went to the platform to wait for all his passengers. Once everyone was on board, the guard blew the whistle, and Thomas puffed away. However, he started a bit too quick. This caused the coupling to snap. Quickly, the guard blew his whistle and waved his red flag.

"What's the matter?" asked Thomas.

"You've left us behind!" called Annie and Clarabel.

"Bother. This is sure to make me late," he grumbled.

"I'm sure we'll have the coupling fixed in no time," said Thomas's driver.

But they soon found more trouble.

"The entire coupling hook has come off," said the driver.

Thomas had to run round his coaches. As he travelled down the Branch Line, he tried to make up for lost time but it was no use. Henry was already at the Junction when Thomas panted in.

"I thought you were never late!" chortled Henry.

"Shut up. It wasn't my fault," retorted Thomas.

"Oh, really?"

"Of course not. Annie's coupling broke. That's not my fault."

"I'm inclined to disagree," said Annie. "You did start a bit too quickly."

"Nonsense."

"No, no. I agree with her," put in Clarabel. "You did start suddenly."

"Either way, it can be safely said that you are late too," teased Henry.

"Yeah, and now you know what's it like to have to wait for ages," retorted Thomas.

"It wasn't that bad," replied Henry.

"Easy for you to say," scoffed Thomas. "I'm only late occasionally. You were late practically every single day!"

"Hey! It's not my fault either that I had a small firebox back then and couldn't get steam up. If anything, you should always be on time considering you are always in perfect condition."

"Oh sure, shift the blame to me now. Still, at least I always try my best to be on time."

"I tried my best too!"

"It didn't seem like it."

"You know what, there's no use arguing with you," finished Henry, and he huffed away.

"Good riddance," grumbled Thomas.

"That escalated quickly," said Clarabel.

"Indeed Clarabel - a bit too quickly for my liking," said Annie. "Honestly Thomas, both of you are bound to be delayed for one reason or another and you really shouldn't have brought up the hard times Henry had before his rebuild. You know how hard it was for him."

"Hmpfh. If he had put even a single effort back then, I wouldn't mind some delays now," replied Thomas.

"You don't actually think he wanted to be late, do you?" asked Clarabel.

"I don't know," said Thomas. "It's hard to tell with Henry. He grumbles all the time even more so after his rebuild."

"Regardless, you should at least admit that you encounter delays too, and Henry has to wait for you," said Annie.

"Oh sure, but it's nothing compared to what Henry made us wait."

Annie and Clarabel sighed.

"We shan't talk sense into him today," whispered Annie.

"I heard that!" called Thomas.

"Well, you should think about this situation for once," replied Clarabel.

Thomas did think about it!

"I'll show that Henry a thing or two," he thought. "I'm never late two days in a row. I'll show him how a Really Useful Engine handles a guaranteed connection."

Meanwhile, Henry was having his own thoughts. That afternoon, he stopped at Edward's station.

"Hullo Henry. It's great to see you," said Edward.

"Oh, hullo Edward," said Henry.

"You look like something's bothering you."

So whilst Jenna sorted out Henry's trucks, he told Edward about Thomas.

"You'd think I was faking all my problems and deliberately delaying other trains. I know I wasn't the most capable back then but I always tried my best and after my rebuild at Crewe, I'm more than capable for everything. They don't call me an Enterprising Engine for nothing."

"I have to say, you certainly earned your title as 'Enterprising'," said Edward. "Honestly Henry, you have nothing to prove. This can't be the first argument you've had with Thomas at the Junction."

"That is true," sighed Henry.

"I'd say that as long as you're on time, everything will be fine."

"You're right Edward! I'll show that Thomas something. I'm an Enterprising Engine and capable of anything!"

The next day, both Thomas and Henry were determined to be on time.

"Hurry, hurry, hurry," said Thomas, as he waited at the platform.

"There's still more luggage to load," called Liza. "What's the rush anyways?"

"I'm about to show ol' Henry that I can be on time at the Junction. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I get there first."

Liza decided not to get more involved.

Over at the Big Station, Henry was also keen to leave. "Perhaps I can get there on time and before Thomas. That'll show him!" he grinned.

Both engines went on their way eager to beat each other. As they approached the Junction, both Thomas and Henry thought they had arrived first but as they came nearer, they saw each other.

"I arrived first!" called Thomas.

"Rubbish," huffed Henry. "I clearly arrived before you."

The engines argued so loudly that even the Stationmaster came out of his office to settle the noise.

"Both of you arrived at the exact same time. I saw it from my office," boomed the Stationmaster.

Thomas and Henry conceded but it wasn't over yet. For the next several days, they tried to beat each other but every time, the engines would arrive at the same time.

Finally, Henry puffed into the station and then Thomas steamed in.

"Huh, I guess you got here before me," sighed Thomas.

"Yeah. I suppose," replied Henry, flatly.

"I thought you'd be gloating about your victory."

"I would but I'm tired of all this competition. As long as I'm on time, I don't care if I arrive after you."

Thomas ran round Annie and Clarabel, ready for the journey home. Meanwhile, Henry was also waiting to leave. Both engines waited and waited but the signals remained red.

"I wonder what's going on," said Thomas.

"I'll ask the Stationmaster," said Thomas's Driver.

He returned with some news. "Well, the power in the signalbox is out and the telephone lines are down too so there's no way to clear the line. It seems like we'll stuck here for quite some time."

Thomas and Henry were not happy to hear this. Nor were the passengers.

Soon Bertie arrived and many passengers flocked over to him.

"There's more people than usual," observed Bertie. "What's the matter, Thomas?"

"The signal is still red so I can't move and neither can Henry," explained Thomas.

"What a shame. Never mind, I'll get your passengers home. Good bye!"

Bertie drove away leaving Thomas and Henry with a handful of passengers who were taking their time. As the minutes passed by, neither engine made a single sound or remark. Ten minutes passed, then twenty, and then thirty minutes but still nothing.

Finally, after forty-five minutes, Thomas broke the silence.

"At this point, I'm fairly sure that I've been waiting longer than I ever had to wait for you."

"I thought that was obvious," chortled Henry.

"I also know that you weren't being late deliberately," continued Thomas.

"Finally!" exclaimed Henry. "I mean, uh, thank you Thomas. I know I grumble a lot too but I always do my best. So do you of course. After all, you earned your branch line."

"Thanks Henry," replied Thomas. "You know, I just remembered that when you and Edward would tell me all that was going on at the Big Station. You haven't told me anything for weeks which means that I always have to find out through Liza."

Henry laughed. "I guess we have time, so here goes!"

The next hour went by fast as Henry filled Thomas in with everything going on. Thomas did the same with news on his Branch Line. By the time the signals finally turned green, both engines didn't want to leave but they knew they had their trains to run. Nevertheless, they were excited to be all to exchange all their news the following day and now, they are both committed to making their connection at the Junction on time.

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