THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP SEA
Next morning the work of reconstruction began.
It has been explained that the foot of the connecting-rod was forced against the foot of the starboard supporting-column, which it had cracked through and driven outward towards the ship's skin. To all appearance the job was more than hopeless, for rod and column seemed to have been welded into one. But herein Providence smiled on them for one moment to hearten them through the weary weeks ahead. The second engineer—more reckless than resourceful—struck at random with a cold chisel into the cast-iron of the column, and a greasy, grey flake of metal flew from under the imprisoned foot of the connecting-rod, while the rod itself fell away slowly, and brought up with a thunderous clang somewhere in the dark of the crank-pit. The guides-plates above were still jammed fast in the guides, but the first blow had been struck. They spent the rest of the day grooming the donkey-engine, which stood immediately forward of the engine-room hatch. Its tarpaulin, of course, had been stolen, and eight warm months had not improved the working parts. Further, the last dying hiccup of the Haliotis seemed—or it might have been the Malay from the boat-house—to have lifted the thing bodily on its bolts, and set it down inaccurately as regarded its steam connections.
"If we only had one single cargo-derrick!" Mr. "Wardrop sighed. "We can take the cylinder-cover off by hand, if we sweat; but to get the rod out o' the piston 's not possible unless we use steam. Well, there 'll be steam the morn, if there 's nothing else. She 'll fizzle!