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MonkeyNotes-The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad
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Section 6

Summary

The steward insists that he has seen the Captain in his cabin while the Captain insists that he has not been there. These kinds of incidents raise fears of discovery by the Captain even though he does not bring it up to Leggatt. He does suggest that Leggatt stay in the tiny bathroom, which seems to be the most concealed part of the cabin. At night, they sleep in his bed, whispering together. He feeds him cans of fine foods from the pantry and also sacrifices his morning coffee. The Captain begins to project all of his fears and anger on to the steward because he is the most likely person to discover Leggatt.

On the fourth day, the steward comes in during a meal with the Captain's coat and goes into his room to hang it. The Captain disrupts the meal to ask him where he is going. The steward explains he is putting it in the bathroom to dry. The Captain feels sure that the double will be caught but to his great relief the steward comes out without detecting him. He feels too giddy to go to the deck. He does not wish to be disturbed till midnight. The Chief Mate remarks that he did not look so well earlier but it is more an observation than a concern.

The Captain wonders if Leggatt is a figment of his imagination since no one else but he has seen him. He thinks that he may be close to being insane. Above them, men are on deck getting the sails ready. Below in the cabin, the two men talk in whispers. Leggatt reveals how he hid in the bathtub. The Captain is amazed at his resourcefulness and natural ability to survive. Leggatt responds that, "it would never do for me to come to life again." How could he explain himself to the judge and the jury? He is "off the face of the earth," he says, referring to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel.


The two decide, despite the Captain's resistance, that Leggatt must leave the ship. Finally, he concedes and they select the island of Koh-ring. The maneuver will put the ship in the gravest possible danger of destruction because of the rocks and reefs near the shore. Under other circumstances, the Captain would not consider approaching the island. His whole future depends on the safe conduct of his first command. Yet he realizes the danger they both are in and that soon they will be discovered. He makes arrangements for Leggatt to escape quietly into the sea when the ship approaches the land. The sound of the sails flapping into the breeze as the ship changes course will cover any sounds Leggatt should make while entering the water.

Later on that night, the Captain changes the course of the ship much to the mate's surprise. He then admonishes the second mate for appearing sleepy on deck. The Captain notes that there must be life on the islands they are approaching yet he does not see a sign of anyone or anything alive. He stresses to the mate that he is taking the ship in close to shore in order to catch a land breeze. The mate is startled and wonders aloud. Later the captain joins Leggatt and they discuss him being set off at Koh-ring where the Captain is assured there must be a village.

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MonkeyNotes-The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad
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