The Runaway Engine

The Runaway Engine

"I should like to make a dash down the track by myself without the engineer," said Big Engine to Little Engine in the roundhouse, where they were staying for the night.

"You see," said Big Engine, "I can pull more cars and go a longer distance than any engine around here, because I am the biggest and the strongest. But I always have to wait for that man they call the engineer, before I can go anywhere."

"Yes," said Little Engine, "but only the engineer knows where the switches are, or how to put on the brakes, or how to read red, yellow, and green lights."

"I don't need any brakes or anyone to read the lights for me," said Big Engine, puffing a slow rhythmic puff puff. "Besides, I have a big whistle, and I can blow all the time to make the other trains get out of my way when I am coming," and Big Engine puffed boastfully, as the fires down in his boiler began to grow hotter and hotter, making more and more steam.

"Well, I always wait for the engineer," said Little Engine. "I think that is the best way."

"Yes, you little engines do," said boastful Big Engine, "but not me. I can take care of myself!" The boiler began to get up more steam as the fires raged and soon the vibration of the steam little by little shook the engine and jarred the throttle open, and swish, dash, choo, choo, down the track wheels spinning, sparks shooting, whistle blowing, steam screeching, away went Big Engine in a wild runaway without the engineer.

"Good-by, 'fraidy cat," said Big Engine to Little Engine. "Tell the engineer, if you ever see him, that I won't need him any more."

Now Big Engine was gathering speed and going faster down the track. He felt so proud of himself as he went roaring by the railroad depot where the surprised people on the platform were waiting for a passenger train.

The man in the switch tower, when he saw Big Engine roaring by, threw up his hands, for he thought he must have lost his reasoning. The gate tender at the crossing did not have time to lower the gate, because he did not expect any train at that time. Big Engine hit an automobile at the crossing and two good people were killed. Still Big Engine kept going faster and faster down the track.

Angry people shouted, "Stop that engine!"

The men in the telegraphic office were sending frantic wires, "Stop the runaway engine. Stop that engine."

By now, when Big Engine saw the damage he had done, he wanted to stop himself, but he didn't know how. There was no engineer to apply the brakes. "I want to stop, I want to stop," he screamed as he rushed along. Ahead he saw a narrow bridge. "I know if I go fast over that bridge," he panted, "I will fall off and go plunging down into the river below and be buried in the deep water." He shuddered at the thought of his terrible end.

But just before he reached the bridge, there was a sharp curve. The engine was going too fast to make the curve, so he ran off the track fell over on his side puffing and panting and blowing.

Soon down the railroad track came the wrecking train and with steel girders they hoisted the engine back onto the track. Then the engineer climbed up into the cab of the engine, opened the throttle very slowly, and guided Big Engine safely back to the round­house. He backed him into his stall beside Little Engine for the night.

It was dark now and Big Engine was glad. He was so ashamed of himself that he didn't want Little Engine to see him blush and look disgraced. He was glad it was dark. He wondered what Little Engine would say to him.

But Little Engine never said anything unkind; he just said in a cheery voice, "It's nice, Big Engine, having you back here again."

Big Engine replied, "Thank you, Little Engine, for wanting me back. I also thought it was nice to have my engineer back, too, to guide me and show me the way to get home."

And that was the last time that Big Engine ever started out without the engineer.

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