- “Oh dear, it's a terrible shame! Your barn has been burnt to the ground!"
"Shame? Fiddlesticks! I was going to pull that old barn down anyway to make room to build a new one. That fire has saved me a lot of hard work. I couldn't be more pleased. It's as I said...red sky at night, shepherd's delight!”
- ―Thomas and the Shepherd
Red Sky at Night! is a magazine story.
It is a warm summer evening on the Island of Sodor and Thomas is puffing happily through the countryside. He is looking forward to passing one of his favourite places, Barleycorn Farm. As he passes by, he sees his old friend, the shepherd, sitting on the old stone wall, watching the beautiful rosy-coloured sunset. The old shepherd tells Thomas an old rhyme, "Red sky at night, shepherd's delight". Thomas is puzzled, but the shepherd explains that it means that tomorrow is going to be a sunny day. Thomas wonders if the rhyme always come true and the shepherd tells him it does as he leaves to go home for his supper.
Thomas is delighted with the shepherd's rhyme and repeats it all the way home. Percy meets him in the main station yard and Thomas explains about the rhyme. That night, Thomas can't sleep. He is waiting to see if the rhyme comes true.
Sure enough, the shepherd's rhyme does come true. Thomas spends the day busily taking holidaymakers to and from the beach in the summer sun. Thomas doesn't have time to think about his old shepherd friend until that evening when Thomas travels around the hill towards the farm. The red sky is glowing again, but this time it isn't the sunset; there is smoke rising into the sky.
Just at that moment, Percy puffs up. He tells Thomas that the red sky tonight won't be a shepherd's delight because it is caused by a fire in an old barn. Thomas is shocked and rushes to see if he can help.
By the time Thomas arrives at the farm, the barn is just a heap of ashes. Thomas thinks it's a shame, but the shepherd doesn't. He explains that he was going to pull the old barn down anyway and put up a new one. The fire has saved him a lot of hard work and he couldn't be happier. He reminds Thomas of the rhyme. The little tank engine laughs. He is glad that his old friend isn't upset by the fire and is also very pleased that, once again, the old rhyme came true.