The seasons were changing on the Island of Sodor. The leaves had begun to change color, and the air was growing crisp. Thomas the Tank Engine was feeling restless. "Summer is almost over, and I haven't got any real fun", he complained.
"You're a fussy little engine", replied Gordon. "We're not here to have fun. We're here to work." Well, that didn't make Thomas feel any better. "I'd rather be fussy and fun than bossy and boring!" he retorted.
The next morning, Sir Topham Hatt called the engines together. "We're opening a new branch line tomorrow", he told them. "I need one of you to check the signals on the new line to see they're all working properly. Who will volunteer?"
"I will", Thomas piped up. "Checking signals wasn't much fun, but it was better than using bossed around in the train yard. "Off you go", said Sir Topham Hatt. "And be sure to check every signal, Thomas. Safety is our first concern."
Something about shiny new tracks always put Thomas in a good mood. He whistled merrily as he rolled along the new branch line. "Checking signals is really useful", he thought. "Safety is our first concern."
Each time was a signal, Thomas made sure that the warm was in the right position. He also checked to see the signal lamp was working, so it could seen at night. If the signal arm was down and the lamp was red, that meant danger on the tracks ahead. There were hidden junctions...
and steep hills.
Thomas had almost reached the end of the new branch line when he saw the sign on the carnival. There was nothing Thomas loved more than a carnival. Oh, how he would love to go! "If I hurry to the carnival now, I can check the rest of the signals later", he told himself. And with that, Thomas turned off and headed into the countryside.
The carnival was splendid. They were games and rides and cotton candy. And there were lots of children. "Look, it's Thomas!" they cried, and ran to greet their favorite blue engine.
When Thomas got back to the train yard, Sir Topham Hatt was waiting. "You've been gone a long time, Thomas", he said. "You must have done a very thorough job of checking the signals on the new branch line. "Yes, sir", peeped Thomas. And just like that, without thinking about it, Thomas told a lie. He hadn't meant to. He suddenly realized that he'd forgotten to go back and and finish the job, but how could he tell that to Sir Topham Hatt?" "Good", Sir Topham Hatt beamed. "Then everything is ready for tomorrow's grand opening."
Thomas gulped. What if there was trouble? What if one of the unchecked signals didn't work? "I know", thought Thomas. "I'll get up very early tomorrow and go out to check the rest of the signals before the grand opening."
That night, Percy was being loaded for his mail run when a call came in the station. Rain had washed out a section of track on the mail route. Percy would have to find the way around. "Don't worry, Percy", Sir Topham Hatt smiled. "You can take the new branch line." Off Percy went, pulling two cars loaded with mail.
The rain fell heavenly. Each time Percy saw a red signal lamp, he slowed carefully until he had passed the dangerous spot. Then suddenly, in the dark, Percy passed another signal. The lamp was not lit, so he didn't see it until too late. The arm was down, for danger! Percy slammed on his brakes, but the rain made the tracks slippery. And there it was ahead-a very dangerous curve.
"Oh, no!' cried Percy. He closed his eyes and did his best to hold on through the turn. Crash! One of the main cars flew off the tracks and was smashed to bits. Percy shivered with fear from his close call.
The next morning, Thomas awoke and sneaked out of his shed. Then he saw Percy returning with Sir Topham Hatt. "Percy has had a terrible fright", Sir Topham said sternly. "He almost derailed because of a signal lamp that didn't work. How could such a thing have happened, Thomas?'
"Oh, sir! I'm so sorry, sir", Thomas sputtered. And it all came rushing out-about the carnival, and the children, and about how he'd forgotten to go back and finish the job. "I'm sorry I told a lie", said Thomas sheepishly. "I just wanted to be part of the fun." "There will be no fun for you for quite some time", Sir Tophat Hatt scolded. "Percy will run your branch line until you've gone and checked every signal on my railway-twice!"
And now, every time Thomas passes a signal, he checks it twice, just to be safe. Gordon likes to tease him. "Fussy little Thomas certainly is fussy about signals." "Peep, peep!" says Thomas. "Safety is our first concern."