Some days after Billy Budd's repulse of the attempted bribe, the Bellipotent gives chase to a heavily armored enemy vessel, but the French ship escapes. Shortly afterward, Claggart, departing from usual procedure, approaches Captain Vere on the quarterdeck and tells the captain in roundabout fashion that one of the impressed sailors is involved in a clandestine plot among the crew. He reports that the unnamed sailor acted strangely during the recent encounter with the enemy.When Captain Vere impatiently interrupts the veiled allusions and demands the name of the dangerous crewman, Claggart replies, "William Budd." Captain Vere is astonished; he had been considering Budd for a promotion. Disbelieving Claggart's charges, he ponders the best method of quietly disposing of the matter. During the long interview, several officers, topmen, and other crewmen observe Vere and Claggart talking together.
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