- “What nonsense! I think you've got bubbles in your boiler, Thomas!”
Thomas the Spotter is a magazine story.
Thomas is feeling very pleased with himself; he had spotted something very important for his driver and had been given a special job as a reward.
At the engine shed, he tells the other engines that he had spotted a fat cat, a big pig and a mucky duck to be given his special job. Percy thinks Thomas is talking nonsense and puffs off before Thomas can explain. James also thinks it is rubbish and speeds away. Gordon also whooshes away in a cloud of steam. Thomas is left with his mouth wide open in surprise. He is unhappy that his friends will not believe him, but he knows that he will show them all later on.
In the evening, Thomas is ready for his special job and heads to the wash-down to be spruced up. The driver explains that as it is such a special job, Thomas is to be decorated with ribbons and rosettes. Thomas puffs away to collect the Fat Controller. Now it's the turn of his friends to stop open-mouthed. The railway workers have all dressed up and are acting out a different nursery rhyme or story. Sure enough, two are dressed as a fat cat and a big pig and the stationmaster is dressed as the ugly duckling. They all look very funny.
When Thomas goes back to Maithwaite, the Fat Controller makes a speech. He says that not only is Thomas a magnificent carnival train, but he had also found the costumes that were believed to be missing. He calls Thomas the railway's top spotter and everyone cheers and claps.
That night, the engines all apologise to Thomas for not believing him.