The forward engine had no more work to do. Its released piston-rod, therefore, drove up fiercely, with nothing to check it, and started most of the nuts of the cylinder-cover. It came down again, the full weight of the steam behind it, and the foot of the disconnected connecting-rod, useless as the leg of a man with a sprained ankle, flung out to the right and struck the starboard, or right-hand, cast-iron supporting-column of the forward engine, cracking it clean through…
This is from “The Devil and the Deep Sea” in The Day’s Work.
The Haliotis, a small cargo vessel, and her crew, have been sailing close to the wind for a number of years. Their present ‘scam’ is illicit pearling in the East Indies, in what is now Indonesia. They are caught red-handed, and the gun-boat which traps them puts a shell into Haliotis’ engine-room, comprehensively wrecking the engine.
The remainder of the tale largely concerns Mr. Wardrop, the engineer, who with herculean efforts by his men succeeds in rebuilding the engine, so that they can escape. Finally, the captain and crew have their revenge, by scuttling their ship so that the gun-boat is sunk by running on to the wreck.