Recalling the tradition of the Handsome Sailor

Recalling the tradition of the Handsome Sailor - Recalling...

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Unformatted text preview: Recalling the tradition of the Handsome Sailor, the unnamed narrator recalls seeing an example in Liverpool many years before the striking figure of a native African above average in height. Around his neck he wore a brightly colored scarf which fluttered against his dark, naked chest. Such a figure is the Handsome Sailor of this story, bright-eyed Billy Budd, aged twenty-one, a foretopman of the British fleet whom Lieutenant Ratcliffe of the H.M.S. Bellipotent forcibly transfers from the English merchantman, the Rights-of-Man. Captain Graveling, of the latter ship, tells the impressment officer that before Billy came, the "forecastle was a rat-pit of quarrels." Listening with amusement, Lieutenant Ratcliffe cynically replies, "Blessed are the peacemakers, especially the fighting peacemakers!" As the cutter pushes off, Billy jumps up from the bow, waves his hat to his fighting peacemakers!...
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