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The Secret Sharer

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The Secret Sharer" is a short story by Joseph Conrad written in 1909, first published in Harper's Magazine in 1910, and as a book in the short-story collection Twixt Land and Sea (1912). The story was filmed as a segment of the 1952 film Face to Face. The Secret Sharer was adapted to a one-act play in 1969 by C.R. (Chuck) Wobbe. The play was published in 1969 by the Dramatic Publishing Company. A new film, Secret Sharer, inspired by the novella and directed by Peter Fudakowski, was released in the UK in June 2014. The story takes place on a sailing ship in the Gulf of Siam (now the Gulf of Thailand), at the start of a voyage with cargo for Britain. The date is probably in the 1880s (when Conrad was at sea himself). In common with many of Conrad's stories, it is narrated in the first person. The narrator is the ship's young captain, and he is unfamiliar with both his ship and his crew, having joined the ship only a fortnight earlier. He is unsure of his ability to exert his authority over the officers and crew who have been together for some time, and makes the point several times that he is the "stranger" on board. After being towed down-river (presumably from Bangkok) by a steam tug, the ship is left at anchor near a group of small barren islands a few miles off shore, waiting for wind to begin its voyage. An incoming ship is anchored similarly a couple of miles away, awaiting a tug to go upriver. That night, the captain, being restless, unusually takes the watch. As the only man on deck in the small hours, he sees that a man has swum up to the ship's side. The naked swimmer is hesitant to talk or come on board, but seems pleased to discover he is speaking to the captain. Once on board he and the captain find a natural rapport, almost as if he, Leggatt, were the captain's other self; especially as the captain has now fetched some of his own clothes that Leggatt is now wearing.
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