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Billy Budd by Herman Melville

Billy Budd is a sailor that was transferred from the Rights-of-Man, a merchant ship, to the
H.M.S. Bellipotent, a warship. Billy settles in quickly among the crew of the Bellipotent
and proves himself to be very industrious and willing in his job of foretop man. Soon
after, Billy is a bit disturbed by the lashing given to another crew member that he saw.
Wanting to avoid a similar punishment, he asks for advice from Dansker, a more
experienced sailor. After listening to Billys story, he tells Billy that the master-at-arms,
Claggart, has a grudge against Billy. However, Billy doesnt believe it but still continues
to wonder about his situation.
Soon later, during lunchtime, Billy accidently spills some of his soup and the
spilled soup trickles to the feet of Claggart, who makes a remark of the spill. The remark
provokes laughter from the rest of the crew and Billy believes this is proof of Claggarts
approval of him but Claggart is actually offended by the accident. One night, an
anonymous sailor wakes Billy up and asks him to meet in a remote part of the ship.
During the meeting, the anonymous sailor offers Billy two guineas in exchange for his
cooperation but Billy threatens the sailor and the sailor backs off. Right after the meeting,
two curious sailor ask him about the meeting but Billy just tell them a sailor was in the
wrong part of the ship and ordered him back to his post.
A while later, after a short skirmish, Claggart goes to Captain Vere with news
that a mutiny will happen and Billy is the ringleader. Billy is ordered to go to Veres
cabin and after Claggart repeats his accusation, Billy is asked to defend himself but he
takes out his anger out at Claggart and knocks him unconscious but is soon pronounced
dead. Vere decisively takes action and calls a court consisting of crew members of the
ship. The jury ends up being deadlocked in the decision but eventually, Billy is charged
as guilty and is sentenced to hang the following morning. Captain Vere later tells Billy
the news since Billy was not present when the jury handed him the sentence. Vere then
calls a general meeting of the ships crew and Claggart gets a official burial at sea. Billy
spends his last hours on the upper gun deck with a sentry guarding him. That morning at
four A.M. Billy is hanged and his last words are: God bless Captain Vere!
After Billy is hanged, the crew began to murmur but the officers disperse them to
their tasks. In the days following, the crew converse discuss about Billy. On the return
voyage, the Bellipotent engages in the skirmish with the Athe, a French warship, and
Captain Vere is wounded. He eventually dies in a Gibraltar hospital and his last words
were, Billy Budd, Billy Budd. Eventually, the legend of Billy Budd is recorded within
naval records. One newspaper implicates that Billy was the villainous assailant of
Claggart. However, the sailors begin to revere Billys legend and treat the spar that Billy
was hung by as a holy object and they compose a poem in his memory.