According to the Sudrian grapevine telegraph, Mrs. Kyndley is rumored
to be loaded with cash, which she keeps stashed in a secret location. Apparently, not even old man Kyndley knows where it’s
hidden. That’s why Thomas and Toby’s crews often stop by for a visit whenever they see her white handkerchief
a waving from the upstairs window. She flatters herself by thinking that they see her as one “hot
momma” ; in reality, they just want to be included in her will!
T’was nearing Christmas, and Thomas was feeling
overworked hauling passengers, parcels and what-not on his branch-line. He was having a tough time climbing the grade near
the Kyndley cottage when he saw the telltale hanky waving.
“Hey boss,” Thomas shouted, “The old
biddy wants us to stop for tea again!”
“Aww-Jeez no,” moaned the Fireman, “Not
today! We’re already behind schedule!”
The Driver’s thoughts, however were not on being
remembered in her will, but mindful of being late.
“We’re too busy!" he added, "Just give ‘er
a toot, Thomas and carry on!”
Thomas was relieved; The Fat Controller always blamed
the engines for everything anyway, from accidents to being late. The crews always got off scot-free. Besides, it was raining
pretty hard too. “Toot” he did, and with that, Thomas and his goods continued to their destination.
Watching from her upstairs bedroom window, old lady Kyndley was mightily
ticked-off when the train didn’t stop despite her frantic hanky waving. As the brake-van was receding from sight, she
flashed what could be aptly described as half a peace sign at it. She slammed the window shut with a BANG! ; and hopped back
into bed and picked up where she left off reading “Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution”. Reading the book only made
her hungry, so she flung the book into a corner, and began hatching a plan that was guaranteed to make Thomas stop tomorrow!
The next morning, Mrs. Kyndley dolled herself up and dug
through her closet to find the most enticing red dress she owned. It was a real struggle to put it on, since the last time
it fit was 2 diets ago. She paid no heed to the rain as she exited the cottage and made her way down to the Branch Line. “They’re
sure to stop once they see me dressed like this,” she tittered, “No man can resist my charm!"
Well friends, she waited for about an hour in the rain
with no sign of a train. Then she figured that if she went around the bend and climbed the cutting, she’d be able to
see and hear Thomas coming from miles away.
She was huffing and panting near the crest when she felt
the muddy ground give way beneath her. The constant rain over the past few days had undermined the hill’s stability.
The dear old lady tumbled helplessly down to the tracks along with a good portion of the hill.
”Oh bother!” she wailed, “My best dress-gown
is RUINED!” And indeed she was a mess, covered in mud and bits of grass. She picked herself up and slowly made her way
back up to the cottage and vanished inside. A few minutes later, the upstairs window flung open, and the ruined red gown was
hung outside for the rain to wash off.
As luck would have it, Thomas' Train was approaching the
cottage. The Guard had earlier managed to sneak into Clarabel to do some “Christmas Shopping”. “Ah!”
he said while rifling through some parcels. "ERTL Thomas characters! - just wut I'se been lookin' for to give l'il Johnny
this year!" In another parcel, the Guard found a bottle of Scotch, which he held appreciatively at arm’s length. "Looks
like contraband!..." he said as he uncapped it, "Smells like contraband!" he took a deep swig. "Tastes good through!" he added
as he wiped his mouth. He placed the bottle in a convenient location for easy retrieval, while he continued to “shop”
for the rest of his family.
Up front, something in the distance caught the Fireman’s
"Holee liftin?!” He exclaimed, "What the heck is that?!" pointing to the large sash of red fabric
flapping in the wind against the cottage.
Thomas? Driver snuck a look. “I dunno!” he
replied, “Looks like James’ red balloon done crashed itself again!” The Fireman had a better look “Nah!”
he added, "It looks like a big red flag, we'd better check this one out!"
The Driver applied the brakes and the train came to a sudden
screeching halt in front of the cottage. The Guard did not expect this, and the bottle of booze he was "inspecting" every
once in a while fell to the coach floor and shattered. He hurriedly gathered up the pieces of glass and unceremoniously rewrapped
it in the parcel paper it came in. "That'll teach 'em not to insure the contents!" he slurred as he headed outside in the
rain to investigate what interrupted his holiday shopping so brusquely.
Thomas’ Driver is a lazy bloke who likes to tell
people what to do, rather than exert himself physically. He also hates being exposed to inclement weather. “This may
be a medical emergency, go see if there's a doctor in the coach," he said to the Guard, ?Have him go up to the cottage
to check on Mrs. Kyndley, then walk back to the Station and tell them why we?ve stopped.”
Upon hearing this, the Guard became cross. The added
effect of the booze didn’t help either. The Fireman, not wishing to become the baloney in a fisticuff sandwich, disembarked
from the cab. “I errrrr, am just gonna walk up t’ line to make sure that everything’s clear.”
The Guard relented, mumbling something about the Driver’s
lineage when he left for the coach, where the closest medical profession to be found amongst the
passengers was a veterinarian.
It stopped raining just as the Fireman returned panting. "Y'all gotta see this!
Y'all gotta see this!" he said excitedly. The Driver obliged and followed the Fireman around the bend. He saw the mess on
the line, but could only think of old lady Kyndley up there alone with the vet, "She might leave all her money to him in her
will! He told the Fireman to return to the train, while he ran up to the cottage and rushed upstairs, only to be greeted by
a shocking sight!
The vet was holding a meowing orange tabby over Mrs. Kyndley and passing it back and forth from
her head to her toes. While this was going on, a black Labrador dog was licking her feet. Mrs. Kyndley suddenly opened
one eye then the other. "Silly of me to faint." she said coyly. "You must've seen my red dressing gown?"
"Yes, I've come to thank you personally," the
Driver beamed. "My good Doctor, by hanging the red dress outside, Mrs. Kyndley warned us of a landslide in the cutting
and saved out lives."
"That's good to know." Replied the vet as he gave Mrs.
Kyndley a milk bone. "Mrs Kyndley is still in shock and is in a Terrible State. She'll be even more so once I give her the
bill. I normally only charge £15.00 for a checkup, but the 'cat scan' and 'lab test' raised it to £200.00. Mrs. Kyndley passed
out again. "God Bless You Ma'am" the Driver said, and tiptoed from the room with the Vet (and his medical equipment).
Christmas day, a special train pulled up in front of the cottage. Famous faces included Toby, Thomas, Annie and Clarabel along
with Henrietta and their respective crews. The unionized crews were more than happy to collect double pay for working on a
statutory holiday. The Fat Controller was there, along with many other people, all who were coincidentally male. They claimed
that they all wanted to say "Thank You" to Mrs. Kyndley, and were sporting nametags with their names printed in big bold type
so that they'd be remembered for the will. They all queued up along the worn path, and climbed towards the cottage.
Old man Kyndley met the procession at the door and barred
their path. "Oy! Wot business 'ave you with me missus?" he hissed "I knows ye all been sniffin' around 'ere while I's on the
mainland!" he added, his face becoming redder.
"Shoot!" Thomas' Fireman exclaimed, "We should'a known
he'd be home for the Holidays!" TFC merely brushed Kyndley aside and continued through the door with Thomas' Driver, Fireman
and Guard. The Guard was the last one inside, and he promptly closed the door and locked it before anyone else had the chance
to come in, including old man Kyndley.
"Unlock this door this instant! Ye bloody vandals!" he
screamed as he twisted the doorknob to no avail. "LET ME INTO MY HOUSE!" he shrieked while drumming on the door with his feet.
"Eh? Wots that you said mate?" snickered the Guard, "I CAN'T 'EAR YOU!" he added as he propped that backside of a kitchen
chair against the door for good measure.
Inside the house, there were cardboard boxes stacked from
floor to ceiling from the kitchen to the living room, with only a narrow passage to navigate through. The four men went directly
Outside the cottage, the crowd realized that they too were
locked out along with old man Kyndley. Not being able to get back inside his own cottage, Mr. Kyndley instead redirected
his aggression towards those who immediately surrounded him.
"Get OFF Me Land! OFF wi' the lot of ye! YE CARNIE
BUMS!" The men immediately became incensed, not for being called "bums" but for being compared to carnies. One man expressed
his gratitude by picking up one of the many nearby lawn gnomes, landing it squarely on top of old man Kyndley's head.
And with that action, and the inescapable law of physics that decrees that an equal and opposite reaction must follow, triggered
Upstairs in the cottage, Thomas' Driver presented Mrs.
Kyndley with a new red dressing gown to replace the one spoilt by the rain. It was wrapped in 'Victoria Secrets' gift paper.
"How lovely" she gushed. "Are you sure it'll fit my petite frame?" she coyly added. "Madam," the Driver solemnly explained,
"I specifically instructed the sales clerk to choose the smallest size on the rack". In reality, his first impression upon
seeing the dress flapping from the window earlier triggered an idea. He hunted down the remnants of James' red balloon and
had it sewn into a dress at the 'Sodor Tent and Awning' factory.
The Guard brought her some grapes, and hand fed them directly
to her from the vine. The grapes were making "pop-pop-pop" noises in her mouth as she ate them. She did not seem to notice
that they were made of plastic. The Guard "found" them while 'shopping', inside a parcel that contained a gift bowl of fake
The Fireman gave her some wooly slippers - with built in
gel insoles. The fact that each slipper had a rat's tail betrayed their true origin. One is left with the distinct impression
that these 'slippers' were recently flattened with a coal shovel. "Oh, they are soooooo comfortable and soft. And the gel
insoles - how thoughtful of you!" she exclaimed. The insoles were actually two tubes of toothpaste that the fireman slipped
into the 'slippers' at the last moment. "You are all very good to me," she said. "I'll always remember this!"
"Just remember our names, Ma'am, especially mine!" oozed
The Fat Controller stood forward and began to speak, but
sounded as if his mouth was full of something, "Deuf paffenguhs and I hofe -*ahem*," he paused to drink water from a flower
vase, then continued, "You'll accept this health spa ticket on the South Coast. I hear that Richard Simmons will be making
a personal appearance with his "Sweat Away to the Oldies" Program - We can't thank you enough for preventing the insurance
hikes and lawsuits that an accident might've caused."
Old lady Kyndley held the ticket to her nose and inhaled
deeply. "Oh Mercy me! It's printed on scented stationary too!" Closer inspection of said ticket would reveal that it
was scrawled in crayon on the back of a "Mr. Jolly" candy bar wrapper. The crayon was left lying on the floor in the corner
where the Fat Controller previously stood. Suddenly Mrs. Kyndley blurted out "Okay, I'm tired! This story is too long already
- now get out of my house!"
The donnybrook in the yard was interrupted as if frozen
in time when the cottage door suddenly opened and Thomas' Guard, Driver, Fireman and TFC exited. The Driver saw something
sticking out of one of the broken lawn gnomes. "Hey what's that?" he asked aloud "Why it's money!" blurted one of the mob.
"Well I'll be!" exclaimed old man Kyndley "She was hidin' the moolah in the gnomes all along!" he said as he reached for the
wad of cash. A feeding frenzy began and the action and noise level rivaled that of what you'd see at the seaside with
seagulls and a box of spilled chips. The mob searched the other gnomes for cash, and the gnomes that managed to survive the
first melee were soon split asunder. Old man Kyndley was having a fit, trying to pick up as much money as he could and shoving
it down his shirt, screaming "It's mine! GIVE IT BACK!". TFC was filling his top hat, and the rest of the crew were helping
themselves to the treasure as well.
Suddenly a shrill whistle cut through the air grabbing
everyone's attention. In the doorway stood old lady Kyndley with her thumb and index finger in her mouth. "Now, now boys,
help yerselves an' share equally; and don't fret Ol' Man, there's no shortage of THAT around here!" Old man Kyndley
looked bewildered and didn't notice that the Guard had relieved him of the money he was holding.
"Now that you've found my secret stash", she continued,
"You might as well know the rest." She paused as the crowd gathered around her. "You know those cardboard boxes that are stacked
in the living room and kitchen?" Well back in '87, I knew a good thing when I saw it, and bought 20,000 copies of that "Island
of Sodor" book. I knew that it would be a hot an' rare item someday. I've been slowly auctioning them off one by one on EBay
over the years and makin' a bundle, even after paying off Egmont not to republish the book! And I've only sold about fifty
of 'em so far! So help yourselves to what's here, 'cause this baby has a lot more comin' her way! Merry Christmas lads!" and
blew them all a kiss and dragged her husband back into the cottage and shut the door.
The group all stood outside amidst the broken lawn gnomes
beneath the upstairs bedroom window. The Fat Controller led them all in singing a few bars from the 'North Atlantic Squadron'
before the happy bunch returned to the train to go home.
lawn gnomes were backordered for years by the stationmaster for Mrs. Kyndley and did not arrive until the "Percy and the Haunted
Mine" incident. Another mystery solved!