Study Guide

Billy Budd Chapter 10

By Herman Melville

Chapter 10

  • The next day something that happens that would seem to dispel all of Billy's doubts about whether or not Claggart likes him.
  • Billy is down below deck joking with the other sailors. It's a stormy day, and the ship lurches, causing Billy to spill his soup just as Claggart is walking by.
  • At first Claggart ignores it and is about to step over the puddle, but when he realizes who spilled the soup, he makes a wisecrack at Billy.
  • He says, "Handsomely done, my lad! And handsome is as handsome did it, too!" (10.1).
  • Billy and all the men take it as a joke, and Billy scoffs at the Dansker's idea that Claggart doesn't like him.
  • But as Claggart passes on there's a distorted expression on his face that frightens a little drummer boy. When the boy looks at him, he threatens him with his rattan (the tough stem of a palm) and tells him to move on.