#1 - A Smile of Fortune: Introduction
'Twixt Land and Sea
While the central figures in each of the three stories in this collection are sailing captains, the main action in two of them takes place on land, albeit in sight of the sea. In "A Smile of Fortune", a naive young sea captain falls into grave moral peril when he locks horns with a wily ship chandler in Mauritius. In "The Secret Sharer", a newly appointed sea captain is confronted with an altogether different kind of challenge when he attempts to haul in a rope ladder over his ship's side one evening and finds it much heavier than usual. In "Freya of the Seven Isles", Jasper Allen, the captain of a lovely little brig, floats on a cloud of love, expecting soon to marry Freya, the daughter of an East Indies plantation owner, and not taking seriously the pretentions of an older Dutch naval officer who sees himself as Jasper's rival. The depth of psychological insight in these stories is variable, but each is a gripping and suspenseful example of Conrad's magazine fiction in the years immediately preceding the Great War. (Summary by Peter Dann)
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