The Secret Sharer


The narrator, a young captain on his first command, discovers a man in the water and helps him aboard.  A physical and emotional likeness between the two is immediately apparent.  The captain hides the man in his cabin, and the man, named Leggatt, tells his story.  Leggatt, chief mate on a nearby ship, had murdered an insolent sailor during a furious gale, but he also had saved the ship.  The captain keeps his "secret sharer" hidden from his crew and from the visiting captain and crew of Legatt's ship.  One night he orders the ship to sail dangerously close to a group of islands so that Leggatt can swim to shore.  while escaping, Leggatt drops a hat that the captain had given him, and it is this hat, floating in the water, that helps the captain guide the ship back to safety.