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Duke the Lost Engine is the twenty-fifth book of the Railway Series.
An engine lost in the South American jungle was found after 30 years. A tree had grown through its chimney and hornets nested in its firebox. When mended it gave good service for 30 more years.
"The Duke" was lost too; not in the jungle, but in his own shed which a landslide had buried. Not long ago he was dug out and mended. His own railway had been pulled up, so he is now at the Thin Controller's.
Duke, Falcon, and Stuart are three engines who live on the Mid Sodor Railway. Duke is wise, but Falcon and Stuart are young and cheeky and often make fun of "Granpuff", as Duke is affectionately known, until Duke tells them the story of a reckless engine named Stanley, otherwise known as No. 2, who was rough and often derailed and was punished by being turned into a pumping engine. The three have many adventures together, until their line closes. Falcon and Stuart are purchased and in due course wind up on the Skarloey Railway, but Duke isn't wanted and is sheltered in the Arlesdale shed. Duke, unaware that the current Duke does not know of his existence, goes to sleep...
In the old days of the Mid Sodor Railway, when Sir Handel was blue and named Falcon, the Manager arranged for him to double-head with Duke to learn the mountain road. Falcon ignored Duke's warnings and when they reached a sharp part of the line, he derailed, and hung dangerously over the edge. Duke held back, but is in need of more water to build up more steam. With the help of the passengers gathering water from a cottage, he gathered enough strength to pull Falcon back. Falcon was grateful, but Duke was modest and said he only did what he did because he didn't want Falcon's paint spoilt if he rolled down the mountain.
Duke is old and Stuart jokes he may have to be kept in order. Duke merely laughs, but later his valves begin leaking and Falcon and Stuart come to the rescue. The cavalcade split up at Marthwaite, as Falcon takes Duke's passengers to catch their boat at Arlesburgh, while Stuart takes Falcon's train with Duke coupled in front. Duke and his driver, hearing Stuart's triumphant chortles, make a plan, and on the last hill Duke gives a great effort. At Arlesdale, a boy inquires as to why there were two engines, to which his father replies Stuart needed assistance, and so Duke came to help.
The Small Controller, the Thin Clergyman and the Fat Clergyman hear the story of Duke and go looking for him. They then offered the small engines a chance to be in a book if they were good. After a long search the Fat Clergyman stumbles and falls onto Duke's boiler. Duke is apprehensive, but cheers up when he finds the Duke is coming. Duke, to his dismay, is sent to Arlesburgh by lorry, but is happier to discover he is still popular, and Donald carries him to the Skarloey Railway on a flatbed. Sir Handel and Peter Sam find him beside the shed, and tease him by saying they can now keep him in order. Duke plays along and falls asleep happily in the sunshine.
- Falcon/Sir Handel
- Stuart/Peter Sam
- The Small Controller
- The Thin Clergyman
- The Fat Clergyman
- Sir Robert Norramby
- The Mid Sodor Railway Manager
- Stanley (not named)
- Duck (does not speak)
- Donald (does not speak)
- Rheneas (does not speak)
- The Owner (does not speak)
- Oliver (cameo)
- The Green Vintage Car (cameo)
- Douglas (possible cameo)
- Caroline (possible cameo)
- The Thin Controller (mentioned)
- Mr. Hugh (mentioned)
- Skarloey Railway Engine Sheds
- The Mountain Road
- Ulfstead Road
- Arlesdale Green
- Arlesburgh West Shed
- Arlesburgh Shed
- Stanley is only referred to as 'No. 2' in "Granpuff".
- "Bulldog" is based on what happened on the Ffestiniog Railway when Duke's counterpart Prince double headed with an 0-4-0 tank engine (now a 2-4-0 tender engine) named Linda who derailed at what is now known as Linda's Leap.
- "Sleeping Beauty" is based on a true story about an engine discovered in the Brazilian Rainforest.
- The sixth illustration of "Granpuff" is identical to the one C. Reginald Dalby drew for the first illustration of "Sir Handel" in Four Little Engines.
- The map held by the Fat Clergyman in the first illustration of "Sleeping Beauty" appears to be based on the map of Sodor drawn by John T. Kenney in 1958.
- While puffing through the tunnel, Falcon gains a headlamp.
- The text from "You Can't Win!" says that Duke "puffed and roared as though the whole train's weight was on his buffers", but Duke has no buffers.
- In the second illustration of "Bulldog", Stanley can be seen in the back of the shed, despite the fact that he was said to have come to the railway before Falcon and that Falcon did not know him beforehand, creating a continuity error.
- In the first illustration of "Sleeping Beauty", the map on the wall spells Ulfstead as "Ulfsted".
- In the third illustration of "Granpuff", Duke's face is slanted sideways.
- In the fourth illustration of "Bulldog", Falcon's nameplate reads "Falon".
- In the third illustration of "Bulldog", Duke's tender is missing the Mid-Sodor Railway crest.
- Throughout most of "You Can't Win", Duke's footplate is straight, but in the last illustration, it dips in the front and rear.
- In the first illustration, Duke is incorrectly portrayed with a 0-4-2 wheel arrangement.
- Falcon and Stuart: Engines come and engines go; Granpuff 'goes on' for ever!"
- Falcon: Fusspot, fusspot! Fuddy-duddy, Fuddy-duddy, Fuddy-duddy!
- Duke: Excuse me, are you a Vandal? Driver told me Vandals break in and smash things.
- Stuart: Well, for crying out loud!
- Duke: Poor old engine! It's no good, Stuart; you can't win!
- Stanley: Listen, Bud, in the States we don't care a dime for a few spills.
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