Several days later, at mess, the purser comments to the surgeon that it was remarkable that Billy's body did not twitch after the initial hanging.
He says, "What testimony to the force lodged in will power" (26.1).
The surgeon calmly explains that he himself arranged the hanging, that muscle spasms are irregular and cannot be attributed to the will power.
The purser asks if it was not phenomenal (in a folk sense, meaning remarkable), and the surgeon replies that indeed it was, though in the scientific sense, meaning that something appeared whose cause could not immediately be traced.
The purser presses the point and asks if Billy died by the halter or if a sort of euthanasia took place. The surgeon says that euthanasia has no authenticity as a scientific term, and quickly withdraws from the mess hall.