Alfie Digs In

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It was a busy day for the Sodor Construction Company. 

Miss Jenny's machines were to be taken up to the Mid-Sodor Railway to build a new line that would take passengers from the Old Station to Ulfstead Castle. 

Jack and Alfie were being carried to the site by Nelson and Madge. 

"I hope you'll like it up in the Hills, you two," said Madge maternally, "it's a lovely place with lovely little engines who work there." 

"I just can't wait to get up there and dig, dig, dig!" said Alfie excitedly. 

"Digging dirt is nearly all you think about, Alfie," teased Jack. 

"Phew! Steep climb, this," huffed Nelson, as they climbed uphill to the Old Station. 

Skarloey and Smudger were at the Old Station, with ballast, sleepers and rails for the new tracks. 

"How long will this take to be done, Oliver?" asked Smudger. 

"Ohohoho, quality takes time, Smudger," replied Oliver politely. "We always do a good job!" 

"I'll carry the most waste!" 

"No, I will!" 

Max and Monty roared across Skarloey's line and narrowly missed him. 

"Mind out, small fry!" laughed Max. 

"Who's he calling small fry?!" grumbled Skarloey. 

Soon, Madge and Nelson arrived with Jack and Alfie. 

"I can't wait to get started," said Alfie keenly. 

"Well, let's get to it then!" called Oliver. 

The three machines set to work arranging the foundation spots for the new line. And they weren't the only ones. 

Byron was making even layouts. Buster rolled the line flat and Kelly carried sleepers through the narrow paths where the workmen would lay them. 

"I love bulldozing," chanted Byron. 

"I love rolling," chuckled Buster. 

"I love lifting and carrying," said Kelly. 

"And I looove digging!" cheered Alfie as he began to dig away undergrowth to make space. 

"And we love carrying debris! Now hurry up, half pint!" snapped Monty. 

Alfie snorted and went about his work alongside Jack and Oliver. 

Max and Monty were soon hard at work too, taking their loaded debris to the Castle, where Thomas was waiting with empty trucks to carry it to the Waste Dump. 

But they were, as usual, being careless and were generally mucking about. They even began to race on their way to and from the Castle. 

"Careful, you two!" whistled Thomas sternly. 

But neither dump truck took notice. 

Meanwhile, Jack and Alfie were still digging away at overgrown hedges and bushes, when they were suddenly called to by Miss Jenny. 

"Jack and Alfie, you'll need to take more care here," she warned, "the ground sinks here and it gets steeper as we go along. Mind your wheels as you dig." 

"Yes, Miss Jenny," said the two machines. 

Jack knew to be careful on embankments or sloped roads. On his first day on Sodor, he slid down a sandy embankment because he was too eager. He was a more experienced front loader now. 

Alfie was careful too, but his keen fondness for digging made him less cautious than Jack was being. 

"Not too fast now, Alfie," called Oliver. 

"Sorry," replied Alfie. 

Alfie did behave more carefully and responsibly under Oliver's watchful eye, but none of them banked on Max and Monty. The pair rushed in from their race back from Ulfstead Castle and were heading for trouble. Max was rushing to Jack and Alfie, whilst Monty rushed to Oliver, ready to park and await more debris for their next load. 

But then it happened! 

Max came in too fast and too recklessly to win the race that he didn't watch where he was going! 

He bumped backwards straight into Alfie. 

Alfie was shoved forward and he crashed into the hedge he was trying to dig at. His wheels sank and he crashed through the hedge and slid onto his side on the embankment. 

"Oh no!" he cried. "I'm stuck!" 

"Oops," said Max meekly. 

"Now look what you two have done!" snapped Oliver. 

"It wasn't my fault!" protested Monty. 

"You were both mucking about and racing around!" said Miss Jenny sternly. "Now we need to delay our work to rescue Alfie! And we need to do it quickly. He may be stuck on the embankment, but if he slips, he might slide down further and maybe crash at the bottom of the Hills! We must act fast!" 

Max and Monty guiltily slid out of the way, as did Jack and Oliver. 

Miss Jenny directed Kelly. He was to use his crane arm to reach Alfie and pull him back to safety. 

The banksmen worked together to get Kelly's arm and hook attached to Alfie. 

"Be calm, Alfie!" called Kelly. 

"I will," replied Alfie nervously. 

He could see how steep the hill got if he went any further downwards. 

Kelly was soon hooked up to Alfie and he began to pull. 

"Heave!" called Miss Jenny. 

"Heave!" replied Kelly affirmatively. 

"Heave for Alfie!" echoed Jack worriedly. 

Kelly tugged and pulled and pulled and tugged. Alfie soon began to move. He had to be dragged by his side, which wasn't very comfortable. 

But at long last, Alfie was back on the even ground, and was soon upright again. His paint was dirty and a little bit scratched, but otherwise, he was unharmed. 

"I'm glad that's over," he said with relief. 

"Me too," added Jack. 

"After taking this load of debris to Thomas, you two can go back home and stay in your shed," said Miss Jenny crossly to Max and Monty. 

"Yes, Miss Jenny," said the two dump trucks meekly. 

Max and Monty caused no more trouble for the rest of the time they dedicated to building the new line. 

Eventually, the work was finished. The line connected with the main line that connected Ulfstead Castle to the Blue Mountain Quarry. 

(The Fat Controller can be seen opening the line.) 

"Good work, team," said Miss Jenny as everybody celebrated. 

"I'm glad we were part of this project," said Jack. 

"Me too," said Alfie, "all that lovely digging." 

"Let's just hope we never have to go digging for little excavators again," chuckled Jack. 

Alfie laughed in agreement. 


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