As he leaves the captain's cabin, the surgeon is disturbed. He disapproves of Captain Vere's move to call a drumhead court and prefers that Billy be held prisoner until the fleet admiral can judge the case. Yet the surgeon refrains from seeming insolent or mutinous. The lieutenants and Mr. Mordant share the surgeon's surprise and concern.Privately, Captain Vere would also prefer to delay judgment until the ship rejoins the squadron. He exhibits no authority for authority's sake, and he has no desire to monopolize responsibility that he can properly leave to his superiors or share with others. He feels, however, compelled by a potential mutiny to act swiftly in obedience to duty.The makeshift court — composed of the first lieutenant, captain of the marines, and the sailing master — convenes quickly. Billy is arraigned; Captain Vere serves as the only witness. The first
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