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Billy Budd, Sailor
Herman Melville

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spithead Spithead is the name given to the strait of the English Channel between the northeastern shore of the Isle of Wight and the English mainland. In the summer of 1797, the strait had been the site of a mutinous uprising that would feed the later (larger) uprising at the Nore.

squadron In the most general sense, a squadron is any detachment of warships on some special duty. In the British Navy, it was one of three divisions (the red, blue, or white) of the fleet, with each division forming one body under the command of a flag-officer.

starboard The right-hand side of the vessel when facing the bow. Traditionally, it is the side of the ship reserved for the Captain, who took his exercise on the starboard side of the poop deck or quarterdeck.

stateroom A stateroom is the small room in the cabin or wardroom of a man-of-war designed for use by an individual, usually one of higher rank.

stays The stay is a large rope that supports the mast either fore (forestays) or aft (backstays).

steamer As opposed to a steamboat, a light-draft vessel used in inland waters, a steamship is a fully-armed seagoing ship powered by steam as opposed to sail.

Straits of Gibraltar Named for the British dependency on Spain's southern coast, the Straits of Gibraltar were the primary entry and exit for ships into the Mediterranean. Control of the Straits by the British Mediterranean fleet was key during the Napoleonic Wars.

stridor 1. A harsh, shrill, grating, or creaking sound. 2. Pathology. A harsh, high-pitched sound in inhalation or exhalation.

stripling An adolescent youth.

stunsails The stunsails or studdingsails are extra sails set outside the square sails of a ship during a fair wind.

suffuse To spread through or over, as with liquid, color, or light: The sky above the roof is suffused with deep colors. (Eugene O'Neill).

summarily, summary 1. Presenting the substance in a condensed form; concise: a summary review. 2. Performed speedily and without ceremony: summary justice; a summary rejection.

summer of 1797 Generally, the year of the narrative -- 1797 -- was one of general and intense unrest in the Royal Navy. England had been at war with France since 1793, and the policy of impressment, poor living conditions, and inadequate pay fed a general dissatisfaction. In the summer of 1797, two major mutinies, at Spithead and at Nore, exploded as well as several smaller attempts in the Mediterranean.
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