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When his ship is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, Harry Patterson, a handsome, rough-and-ready World War II merchant marine boatswain, is cast adrift on a launch with a few of his shipmates. Harry remains calm in the face of disaster, but his friend Mudgin panics and makes desperate pleas to God for help, promising to avoid women, liquor and fighting and to donate money to the church if they are saved. Harry finds Mudgin's pleas ridiculous, but no sooner does Mudgin complete his pact with God than a rescue plane appears on the horizon and the men are saved. The seamen are deposited in San Francisco, where they celebrate their safe return to land with a haircut and a visit to a bar. Mudgin breaks all his promises to God soon after arriving in San Francisco and becomes depressed, certain that he has "lost his immortal soul." While Mudgin's shipmates laugh off his concerns, Harry, realizing that Mudgin is truly wracked with guilt, helps his troubled shipmate find his lost soul. Their journey takes them no further than a city library, where Harry and Mudgin meet the attractive, straight-laced librarian Emily Sears. Although intrigued by Emily, Harry repeatedly raises her ire with his brutish manner and argumentative nature. Harry's attention quickly shifts away from Emily, however, when her outgoing roommate, Helen Melohn, arrives. Harry and Helen hit it off immediately, and Emily reluctantly accompanies the three on a dinner date. At the restaurant, Emily stuns Harry when she abandons her reserved demeanor and starts a bar fight to bring the night to a close. Convinced that Emily is the "freshest dame" he ever met, Harry decides to pursue her affections in earnest and arranges to meet the two women the following day at Emily's farm outside the city. Harry and Emily soon fall completely, though contentiously, in love and get married in Reno. When they return to Emily's farm, Harry tells Emily that he will be shipping out in a few days, which comes as a shock to Emily and prompts her to ask for a divorce. Harry sails for the high seas, and during his absence Emily realizes that she is pregnant with Harry's child. While docked in a South American port city, Mudgin falls off the ship and, before dying in Harry's arms, says that his soul has been returned to him. Months after his departure, Harry returns to San Francisco and learns from Helen that Emily has long since given up on him and gone to her farm to give birth to their child. Harry arrives at the farm just as Emily goes into labor, and when the baby is stillborn, he repeatedly slaps the baby until it begins to breathe. Afterward, Harry and Emily share a tender kiss.