At 4:00 a.m., all hands answer the summoning whistle to witness Billy's execution. Some sit on booms; others observe from the tops of masts. The prisoner, accompanied by the chaplain, is escorted to the deck. Billy faces the stern. At the last minute his words ring out — "God bless Captain Vere!" These words have a phenomenal effect on the crew, who echo — "God bless Captain Vere!" There is complete silence at the instant of execution and for a brief time afterward. The men are dismissed. Reassembled after the sailmaker's mates have readied the body for burial, the crew observes Billy's interment. A strange murmur emanates from the men. The noise quickly ceases at the piping down of the watch. The shrill cry of sea birds prevails during and after the time when Billy's body, wrapped in his hammock, slides into the sea. The drumbeat to quarters draws the men's attention from the burial and dispatches them to their
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Billy, God bless Captain, Captain Vere, deck. Billy