Nearing home after a long voyage, the H.M.S. Bellipotent, a British man-of-war in need of men, halts the merchant ship Rights-of-Man. Lieutenant Ratcliffe impresses one — and only one — sailor, Billy Budd, who is happy to serve his country and offers no objections. As he leaves, he calls the Rights of Man by name and bids farewell.Aboard the Bellipotent, Billy assumes the duties of foretopman. He quickly endears himself to his mates and the officers under whom he serves. The captain of the ship, "Starry" Vere, is a quiet, just, and well-read officer. In contrast, Claggart, the master-of-arms, although outwardly placid, is inwardly malevolent and moody.At first Claggart is friendly toward Billy and seems pleased with his performance of duty. Later Billy is surprised when he is admonished for petty errors. Fearing punishment, Billy seeks advice from a
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