"The Secret Sharer"
by Joseph Conrad

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     "Now," I whispered, loudly, into the saloon--too loudly, perhaps, but I was afraid I couldn't make a sound. He was by my side in an instant--the double captain slipped past the stairs--through a tiny dark passage . . . a sliding door. We were in the sail locker, scrambling on our knees over the sails. A sudden thought struck me. I saw myself wandering barefooted, bareheaded, the sun beating on my dark poll. I snatched off my floppy hat and tried hurriedly in the dark to ram it on my other self. He dodged and fended off silently. I wonder what he thought had come to me before he understood and suddenly desisted. Our hands met gropingly, lingered united in a steady, motionless clasp for a second. . . . No word was breathed by either of us when they separated.


     I was standing quietly by the pantry door when the steward returned.

     "Sorry, sir. Kettle barely warm. Shall I light the spirit lamp?"

     "Never mind."

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