The character of Eagle has given me so many headaches over
the last five years, it’s unbelievable. Whilst it has never been placed
as canon, his name has been adopted by some for the red engine who features in The Sad Story of Henry, when
it was really just a name I selected at random for the ERS character. However,
this one has attracted a lot of positive feedback from readers over the last few years, but was essentially written on a whim
at the time. Thankfully with some tidying up for the V2, it reads better than
it did when it was written originally.
THE NEW ENGINE
Work on the Norramby Branch Line is increasing, so the Fat Controller takes advantage
of an offer made by a mainland Museum to bring a new steam engine to the island. The
engine turns out to be one of Sodor Castle’s old friends, Hunter the Prairie Tank Engine, who will be working alongside
Eagle, a reclusive and reluctant engine who has worked on the Norramby Branch all of his working life, and has no interest
in sharing the workload.
Hunter and Eagle’s first day does not go very well, when Hunter’s shunting
of trucks does not meet Eagle’s approval. Eagle sees the newcomer as being
a hindrance to the Branch as opposed to a help, and despite calls from Roger the Miniature Engine to calm down, he is unwilling
to change his views. And when Eagle suffers a failed injector and cannot bring
his passenger train home, Hunter is the one who has to go and pull both him and the train back to Norramby, much to Eagle’s
Hunter is given the opportunity to work on Edward’s Branch Line for a while, away
from Eagle. But when he is making his way back to Barrow with a load of China
Clay trucks, the River Hoo bursts its banks and earth gives away under the weight of Gordon’s train. Hunter and his train are caught up in a subsequent landslide and he cannot move the train forward or back. Edward finds he can’t help much either – and there’s only one other
engine nearby who could stand a chance of rescuing Hunter...
Edward and his crew alert Eagle to the problem, and they try desperately to get him to
help set Hunter free of the mud. With a great effort, he hauls Hunter free and
the two engines then take the alternative route toward Henry’s tunnels, over their branch line, in order to complete
Hunter’s journey. On the way, they work together and bond as workmates
for the first time. And at the end of the working day, the two reconcile their
differences and finally become friends.