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and they were a mass of sagging tubes. The vandals cracked her cylinders with sledges, threw the valve gear and cylinder heads overboard, and messed up all the auxiliaries. They fixed the wiring so it would short the moment juice was put on it, and they took down steam leads and inserted steel blanks between the flanged joints. In other places they drove out rivets and replaced them with ones of putty. I tell you she was dynamite, even after they fixed up the boilers and main machinery.
"Naturally, having a thing like that done to you would make you sore especially if you were young and proud and the toast of the Imperial German merchant marine. But that was not all. On her first trip across—I was mate then—a sub slammed a torp into her off the north of Ireland and it took her stern away. Luckily she didn't sink and another ship put a hawser on us and worried us into Grennock where they fixed her up. That would have been bad enough, but on the trip home she smacks into a submarine-laid mine off the Delaware Capes and blows in her bow. We had to beach her near Cape May.
"They rebuilt her again and we set out. But her hard-luck—or mistreatment rather—wasn't at an end. In those days our Secret Service wasn't as good as it is now and a saboteur got aboard. He gummed up things pretty bad. So bad that we caught afire and almost sank in mid-ocean. It took some doggoned hard work to save that ship, but help came and we stayed afloat. Well, that was the end of her patience. She went hog-wild. After that, no matter whether she was in convoy or not, whenever, anything that was German was around—sub, torpedo, raider or what not—she went after it, and never mind engine room bells or rudder. Her whimsies cost me a hand and a leg before we were through, but I didn't mind. I figured I could take it if she could.
"She broke the hearts of three captains. A lot of captains, you ought to know, object to having the ship take charge. They said she was unmanageable and chucked their jobs. That left me in command, though at the time I didn't rate the job. Knowing something of her history, I knew better than to interfere. Her hunches are the best thing I know. No matter what she does..."
"Hey?" yelled the commodore, thoroughly alarmed, "watch what you're doing."
The Sadie Saxon had sheered sharply from her course and was heading directly across the bows of a ship in the column to one side of them. It was too late then, even if the Sadie had been tractable, to do anything about it. A collision was inevitable. The commodore reached for the whistle pull, but Tolliver grabbed his arm and held it.
"Wait," he urged, "this means something. I know her."
An angry, guttural shout came from the bridge of the ship whose path they were about to cross. Then came the rending crash as steel bit into steel—thousands of tons of it at twelve knots speed. The other ship had rammed the Sadie Saxon just abreast the mainmast and she heeled over sharply, spill-