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MonkeyNotes-The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad
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PART II

Section 5

Summary

Archbold, the skipper of the Sephora, comes on board. Similar to the mate of the Captains, he too has a whiskered face although his are red. His eyes are a "smeary shade of blue." He is described in unflattering terms as having a "spiritless tenacity." He can barely speak without mumbling. The Captain and he sit in the cabin to discuss what brings him to the Captain's ship. The steward brings a tray with a bottle and glasses and the skipper asks for water instead and drinks two tumblers. He then tells the Captain that he has been exploring the islands. As he continues to mumble his words, the Captain tells the skipper that he is hard of hearing. The skipper is surprised but talks louder. He narrates to the Captain his version of the tale about the happening on the Sephora. The skipper is distressed that such a thing has happened.

The Captain cannot sympathize with the man's story and keeps thinking of his secret sharer who is not far away. The Captain says that the sea might have killed the man and the skipper disagrees about such a possibility. The man suddenly sticks his tongue out at the Captain in an irrational act and says that if the Captain had seen the sight of the dead man, he never would have forgotten it. The Captain confirms that the foresail saved the crew but the skipper sees that as an act of God rather than anything Leggatt did. He even admits that he did not give the order for the sail to be set, so scared was he during the squall. He now wants to bring the murderer to the law. He dismisses Leggatt as someone he would not have taken on.

The Captain takes these remarks seriously and thinks the skipper does not like him either. He then says that he will have to report the matter as a suicide. The Captain's lack of curiosity and excitement makes the skipper suspicious. The Captain is not able to feign anything except pretending to be deaf. He sticks up for Leggatt because he cannot separate himself from him. It is as if he is under attack. To appease the skipper, the Captain shows him around the cabin. The skipper appreciates the accommodation. He follows the Captain and gazes around while the double carefully and intelligently conceals himself. The Captain shows him everything, remaining incredibly polite. Finally, the man is assured that he is not harboring the murderer and gives a blow on his whistle and yells, "Sephora's away!" Four fellow crewmen come out from somewhere and the man finally departs with them. Before he leaves, he tries to appease the Captain of his intentions for coming and the Captain interrupts him before he can finish.

The Captain engages with the mate about the visit and how he had taken offence by the crewmen's insinuation that the ship was harboring a fugitive. The Captain peremptorily says that is preposterous and then attempts to divert the conversation. Soon enough, he is back in his cabin. He realizes the danger he has put himself in by harboring Leggatt and is fearful of the consequences of the discovery.


While the steward is laying the table for dinner, the Captain and the double communicate only through eyes. Later they have a cautious try at whispering, but because it is Sunday all is quiet. Leggatt once again justifies his reasoning for the murder as well as explaining his insubordinate action of putting up the sail that saved the ship. The Captain completely understands his actions. Suddenly, somebody tells the Captain that there is enough wind to get under way, and he is disrupted from his thoughts. He orders to turn the hands up, and proceeds to the deck directly. The Captain and the double exchange glances before the Captain leaves for the deck. The double makes a somewhat vague, mysterious gesture accompanied by a faint smile.

The Captain again feels disturbed by the mental feeling that he is in two places rather then one. When he moves, a part of him is left behind. He does not feel in complete command of his ship or his crew. He also forgets to distinguish between his public and private face and begins to whisper in his mate's ear as if he were Leggatt, much to the mate's amazement. He also is unable to maneuver the ship without great effort of thought. This should come as second nature to a captain but for him it required all effort because of his distraction.

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MonkeyNotes-The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad
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