"The Secret Sharer"
by Joseph Conrad

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     "I quite understand," I conveyed that sincere assurance into his ear. He was out of breath with whispering; I could hear him pant slightly. It was all very simple. The same strung-up force which had given twenty-four men a chance, at least, for their lives, had, in a sort of recoil, crushed an unworthy mutinous existence.

     But I had no leisure to weigh the merits of the matter--footsteps in the saloon, a heavy knock. "There's enough wind to get under way with, sir." Here was the call of a new claim upon my thoughts and even upon my feelings.


     "Turn the hands up," I cried through the door. "I'll be on deck directly."

     I was going out to make the acquaintance of my ship. Before I left the cabin our eyes met--the eyes of the only two strangers on board. I pointed to the recessed part where the little campstool awaited him and laid my finger on my lips. He made a gesture--somewhat vague--a little mysterious, accompanied by a faint smile, as if of regret.

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