Going for Gold
It was a fortnight before Victoria returned from Crovan's Gate. By that time, the heat wave was dying down and the crowd's were thinning: Autumn was on it's way to Sodor. Toby and Henrietta collected Victoria from Knapford Station and they were all very glad to see her.
"It has been dreadfully dull without you." Henrietta explained as they were coupled together. "These dingy, whiny coaches were forced behind me and I had to put up with their groaning."
"By 'put up' she means biffing them so hard they derailed." Toby sniggered as they started off and Victoria chuckled.
"So, are all of the enthusiast groups over and done with?" The coach asked.
"Nope, there is still one more to come tomorrow. Bertie is bringing them." Toby explained. Henrietta grumbled.
"I hate buses! They stole all my passengers on our old line." She fumed. Victoria was shocked to here this and Toby didn't want Henrietta to ruin their time back and they trundled along in silence.
The next day, the three enjoyed their first run back together by taking the workmen to the quarry, where Mavis came up and apologised endlessly for the accident.
"It wasn't your fault." Victoria said after the seventh apologise. "I don't blame you." They then had to hurry back in order to be there in time for the new batch of enthusiasts. As they bustled into the station, they saw that Bertie was resting while some enthusiasts took pictures of the bus.
"Sorry we're late." The driver apologised once they had braked and shook hands with the head of the group.
"Quite alright, we don't mind. It is very rare to see a J70 tram still in operation, so we are glad to see him." The man smiled, and everyone brought up their cameras and started to take photographs. Henrietta instantly shut her eyes and Victoria giggled. Toby smiled and looked over at Bertie. Around half of the group was ignoring Toby and taking pictures of Bertie. Toby was crestfallen. If even enthusiasts were starting to grow bored of him, he felt as if there was no hope.
Later that day, Toby stopped at Elsbridge so that the enthusiasts could take pictures of the station. Bertie was also there dropping off passengers
"Nice bunch, aren't they?" Bertie said, smiling brightly.
"They are alright." Toby said stiffly, determined not to look at him. Several people saw Bertie and hurried over to him, quick to take pictures. Toby finally snapped.
"Didn't you get enough pictures of him earlier?" Toby hissed, steam pouring from underneath him. The enthusiasts all stared at Toby. Henrietta and Victoria all stared back at them. "Buses are the reason I was sent away from my old home, I don't want it to happen here." Bertie gasped.
"I am not doing anything wrong, except that I am flashier, modern, more reliable and faster!" The bus snapped back. Henrietta let out a screech like a banshee.
"Toby doesn't need to be all that to beat you!" Victoria snapped. "He is much more reliable anyway and he has proven himself to be fast. Why don't we race to prove it?"
Toby suddenly wished he hadn't said anything.
The stationmaster and head enthusiast arranged it: a race between the two down to Knapford Station. The Fat Controller had given permission for Toby to go to his maximum speed, so everything was about to begin. The enthusiasts all climbed into Henrietta and Victoria and lots of people on the platform went in Bertie so they could enjoy the race.
"See you at the finish line." Bertie whispered, laughing. Toby tried to ignore him, but he was very worried. He didn't like going fast and wasn't very fast, he knew that he would probably lose and embarrass himself. The stationmaster stood on the road between the two holding a green flag.
"On your marks, get set, GO!" He yelled. With a roar, Bertie started up. Toby's driver release the brakes and Toby began to leave the station as Bertie seemed to shoot off into the distance.
"GO GO TOBY, GO GO!" Henrietta and Victoria chanted as they started to pick up speed. Toby started to think of the two of them: Henrietta, who had nearly been turned into a henhouse, and Victoria, who had been abandoned and left alone for years. With a new found feeling of speed, Toby started to speed.
However, Toby can only goat a rather minimal speed. Bertie was racing off into the distance, chortling loudly. However, he was still doing regular work. Bertie pulled in and out of streets, collecting passengers and had to stop each time while they paid. Toby eventually began to edge ahead, but only saw glimpses of Bertie when they briefly passed each other. His fireman was heaving coal into the firebox with all his might so they didn't fall behind. The coaches and some of the enthusiasts sand chants and called praises as they gathered speed and soon passed Toryreck and Dryaw. They could see Bertie dropping and collecting passengers from Percy as they passed the airfield.
"GO FOR IT TOBY!" Percy yelled. Toby smiled and eyed the level crossing. However, Bertie was ready to go and suddenly shot out of the station, leaving a cloud of dust. He rocketed down the road, heading for the level crossing. Whoever crossed the crossing first would probably win. Toby was hurrying as fast as he could and was approaching the crossing faster.
At the crossing, engines are always allowed to go first. The signalman saw the two approaching one another and quickly changed the gates so that Toby would be allowed safely through. Bertie edged his driver on.
"We can just charge through, we'll get across before he does." He cried. Toby could see Bertie still racing up.
"He's going to try and pull something." He called to his driver. The driver looked at and saw Bertie still racing.
"He'll come out worse than us." He replied as they were only metres away from the crossing.
It all seemed to happen at once.
Bertie accelerated and charged for the crossing as Toby's wheels touched it. The bus burst through the crossing with a yelp of pain, but he was barely a metre away from the crossing when Toby smashed into him. The passengers screamed, Bertie yelped, Henrietta and Victoria gasped and the little bus was pushed a few yards before his driver recovered and was able to reverse him off the tracks.
Toby came to a sudden halt. His coaches smashed together and the enthusiasts toppled over. His crew raced back to check everyone. Bertie's right side had a huge dent and most of the windows had smashed. His front bumper had fallen off and one of his headlights was dangling out of its socket. A few passengers had been a bit bruised, but everyone else was alright.
"Looks like you won." The driver said, chuckling feebly.
Soon, Thomas brought the breakdown train and Daisy came and collected the passengers. Bertie was lifted onto a flatbed while the Fat Controller sternly told the driver off. He then walked over to speak to Toby.
"Toby, next time you want a race, I'll make sure to swap your cowcatchers for a battering ram." He said. Toby flushed.
"I am sorry sir, I just wanted to prove myself against a bus." He said weakly.
"Trust me Toby, I would never have you replaced." The stout man said, patting Toby on the side. Toby beamed brightly.
When Bertie returned home, he and Toby made up and both apologise to each other. His driver was put on probation for a few months but came back eventually and Bertie had his speed restricted. But now the roadway vehicles warn each other whenever they approach the level crossing:
"Don't go and speed across there, or Toby and his Vintage Train will shove you off the road!" Knowing that cars were afraid of them made Henrietta the happiest coach on the entire Island.