Four Little Engines

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Four Little Engines

Four Little Engines is the tenth book in the Railway Series by the Rev. W. Awdry. In this book, we are first introduced to the Skarloey Narrow Gauge Railway.

Skarloey Remembers

Edward is sent to the works to be mended. Near the works is a Narrow Gauge Railway, and Edward sees a little engine named Skarloey. Skarloey is a very old engine. He and his brother, Rheneas, work the old line. Thier owner has just bought two more engines. Rheneas was taken away to be mended yesterday. Skarloey wishes he could be mended. He continues to tell Edward about his line, including a story about a woman who comes late everyday. But all too soon, Edward has to go to the works.

Sir Handel

The two new engines are called Sir Handel and Peter Sam. Peter Sam seems nice, but Sir Handel is very grumpy. He doesn't want to do his work. He has to go fetch some coaches and calls them cattle trucks. He takes his train to the station where he meets Gordon. Let's just say, that Gordon has met his match in boastfulness. Sir Handel leaves Gordon speechless! For the rest of the day, Sir Handel is very rough with the coaches, who still want to pay him out for the "cattle trucks" remark. They try holding him back, and he gets very annoyed. The guard soon puts sand on the rails, and Sir Handel starts off again. That evening, the Thin Controller threatens to punish Sir Handel if he doesn't stop being rude. Sir Handel tries for a few days, but one day, his driver tells him that he must collect trucks. Sir Handel refuses and purposely slips between the rails. Peter Sam must bring him home and take his train. When he does get home, the Thin Controller is waiting for him. He tells Sir Handel that he has to stay in the sheds until he can be trusted to behave.

Peter Sam and the Refreshment Lady

  • NOTE: This story is based on an accident that happened to the Rev. W. Awdry. (He was the guard on Edward Thomas )

Peter Sam had to do both his own work, and Sir Handel's, as Sir Handel was in the sheds. Peter Sam was very excited, and his Driver and Fireman found him hard to handle. Skarloey warns him to keep calm, but Peter Sam is too excited to listen. He is very kind to the coaches, and they can't get enough of him. When Peter Sam came into the station, he found Henry waiting for him. Henry says that if Peter Sam is late tonight, he'll leave his passengers behind. Peter Sam isn't too worried. As he runs down the line, he sings little songs to himself. There is a station by the lake. Every afternoon, Peter Sam has to wait thre for one hour. The Driver, Fireman and Guard buy drinks from the Refreshment Lady. When it is time to leave, Peter Sam is very impatient. He starts worrying about what will happen if he misses Henry's train. Peter Sam starts moving before the Refreshment Lady can get in. He claims its' because he heard the Guard's whistle. The Guard claims Peter Sam was too impatient. Anyhow, he is soon stopped by the coaches, who realize what Peter Sam has done, and lets the Refreshment Lady onto the train. Peter Sam went faster to make up for lost time. They pull into the station at the exact same time as Henry. The Refreshment Lady is cross, and Peter Sam says that he didn't mean to leave her behind, but he was worried that Henry would leave without them. The Refreshment Lady laughs and explains that Henry can't leave without them, as he's a guarenteed connection. A very cross Peter Sam looks for Henry, who has already chortled away!

Old Faithful

Sir Handel is let out of the sheds on Market Day, as Peter Sam needs repairs. He tries to be nice, but the coaches don't trust him, and are being awkward. Sir Handel has to stop suddenly to avoid running over some sheep. The coaches think he bumped them on purpose, and push him off the rails. Sir Handel is taken back to the shed, but he cannot do any more work. There's no-one to pull the Market Day train. Then, Skarloey asks if he could do it, and the Thin Controller lets him. Skarloey gets to the station, and scolds the coaches. They are truely sorry. As Skarloey is old, he hasn't traveled up the line since Sir Handel and Peter Sam arrived. But, he still sees all of his old friends, and remembers all the places to stop. But, as the line climbs, Skarloey starts losing steam. When they get to the top station, Skarloey has a short rest. On thier way down, his springs weaken, and the rail joints jar is wheels. Then, one of his springs breaks, and Skarloey tilts and a curious angle. Skarloey says that he would be ashamed to have a bus take his passengers, and that he'll get to the station, or burst trying. At the station, the Thin Controller and James are waiting impatiently for Skarloey. They soon hear a rough sound, and Skarloey, still tilted at an odd angle, enters, tired, but triumphent. James collects his passengers and respectfully puffs away. The Owner then tells Skarloey that he deserves to be mended, and will be. Sir Handel now waits for the day when Skarloey returns. He thinks of Skarloey as the best engine in the world. He does his share of work, and knows how to handle the coaches in "Skarloey's way".

New Characters

  • Skarloey
  • Rheneas (in one illustration, with no speaking roles)
  • Sir Handel
  • Peter Sam
  • Sir Handel Brown (The Owner)
  • Mr. Peter Sam (The Thin Controller)


  • First book to involve a narrow-gauge railway.
  • The Skarloey Railway is based on the Talyllyn Railway.
  • Tenth Book in the Railway Series)

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