Test Runs

Unfortunately, the sun didn't come out for another week. Stephen was hoping each day that the sun would shine. But when Stephen woke up one day, he looked outside and saw that the sun was rising over the horizon, and the wet ground was now dry.

"Finally, time for my test runs" said Stephen. A few hours later, George and Robert arrived. "Ready for your test run Stephen" asked Robert. "Yes I am. I really want to run on my own" said Stephen. Not once in the past week had he moved from his small corner of the workshop.

Stephen waited patiently as the George and Robert lit his firebox, and the workmen filled his tank and filled his tender with coal. Soon, Stephen's fire was roaring, and steam was wheezing out of his pistons and funnel.

"Alright, you're all ready" said Robert. "Then let's go" said Stephen. He was bursting with excitement. "Alright, here we go" said Robert. He began turning nobs and pulling levers.

Stephen groaned and weeshed, and then his pistons began to turn. "I'm moving I'm moving" said Stephen happily. He rolled out of the shop, and down the line towards a practice line.

The line was a loop of track near the shop. Stephen also saw that there was what looked like two pieces of track stuck together. "What's that" asked Stephen.

"That's a switch. It lets an engine switch onto another line. That tracks leads to another test track. Unfortunately the ground it was on sank when we were finished, so now it's a straight slop down" said Robert.

"But enough about that, time to put you through your paces Stephen" said George. So Stephen began to puff down the line to start his tests.

That evening, Stephen was still out on the test track. He had go forwards, backwards, and even ran over the points. He had hoped he could go down the line, but he was soon reversed back.

Soon Stephen was on his last run. All he had to do was run around the test track one more time. "Ready for the last run of the day Stephen" asked Robert. "Yes I am" said Stephen.

So Stephen puffed around the track. But what Stephen, Robert, and George didn't know was that one of the workmen nearby had been walking along the track. But then he tripped and had grabbed onto the lever that threw the points. He didn't realize that the points were set, so he got up and continued to walk along the track.

Soon Stephen had run the track one last time. "Whoa, I like running on my own. But after today, I'm going to enjoy sitting still in my corner for a while" said Stephen as Robert and George stepped down from the controls. "Well you performed excellently today Stephen. You deserve a break" said George. But when Robert and George looked away, Stephen began to roll forwards.

"Wait, I thought I was done for the day" said Stephen as he rolled away. "You are Stephen" said Robert as he turned around, but when he did, he saw Stephen rolling away down the track. "What" he said surprised.

George looked around and saw Stephen rolling away. "Oh no, I forgot to put on his brakes" he said surprisingly. "Don't worry" said Robert "the track is in a big loop. Either he'll slow down or roll around the track back to us".

But then, they saw Stephen switch off the test track and onto the dangerous line. "What, who set the points" called Robert as he began to run after Stephen. One of the workmen quickly walked away.

Stephen wondered what he was doing on this track. "Is this my reward for working hard today" he asked. But no one answered him.

"Quick, get the pump wagon" called George. The workmen quickly went inside, and soon the pump wagon rolled over to the two. George and Robert climbed on, and then they raced off after Stephen.

Stephen was approaching the sloped part of the line. "Oh boy, this is going to be fun" he said happily. But as he began to roll down the slope, he saw that ahead of the bottom was some bent track. "Uh, maybe I should stop now" called Stephen. But with no driver or fireman, his brakes couldn't be applied. "Oh no, help" called Stephen.

But George and Robert were getting closer to Stephen. George was helping the workmen pump the wagon, while Robert stood on the front. "Just get me close enough so I can jump on. Then I can apply the brakes" he said to the men.

Soon they reached the slope. The combined pumping and gravity helped them shoot down the slope. They were very close to Stephen. "Don't worry Stephen, were here to help" called Robert.

Stephen smiled "Thank you sir, but I think I'll be happier when I finally stop" he called back. The car was now very close to Stephen. "Jump Robert" called George. Robert hesitated for a moment, then lept from the wagon and landed on Stephen's tender. "Good Show Boy" called George.

Robert quickly ran to the controls and applied the brakes. Stephen's wheels screeched and sparks flew. They were getting closer to the bent track. But soon they stopped just before they could hit it. "FFFFEEEEWWWW" said Stephen taking a deep breath. "That was too close" said Robert as he reversed Stephen back up the slope.

Soon Stephen was back in his small corner in the workshop. Some workmen were looking over him; making shure none of his parts were damaged. "I'm sorry I forgot to apply your brakes Stephen" said George, who was in front of him. "It's alright sir, I'm still here, so it's okay" said Stephen. After the workman had replaced a few rivets and cleaned his wheels, Stephen saw that the workshop was starting to get quiet. He also saw that the sun was setting over the horizon. "Well that's it for today Stephen. We'll be doing more tests later on. But soon you'll be ready for the competition at Rainhill" said Robert. "Can't wait sir" said Stephen.

That night, Stephen kept thinking about Rainhill. "It's then that I show the world not only are steam engines amazing, but I show them my speed is unsurpassable". And soon, he drifted off to sleep.