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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWhite Jacket - Chapter 81. How They Bury A Man-Of-War's-Man At Sea
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White Jacket - Chapter 81. How They Bury A Man-Of-War's-Man At Sea Post by :rlscott Category :Long Stories Author :Herman Melville Date :May 2012 Read :2899

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White Jacket - Chapter 81. How They Bury A Man-Of-War's-Man At Sea

CHAPTER LXXXI. HOW THEY BURY A MAN-OF-WAR'S-MAN AT SEA

Quarters over in the morning, the boatswain and his four mates stood round the main hatchway, and after giving the usual whistle, made the customary announcement--"_All hands bury the dead, ahoy!_"

In a man-of-war, every thing, even to a man's funeral and burial, proceeds with the unrelenting promptitude of the martial code. And whether it is _all hands bury the dead! or _all hands splice the main-brace_, the order is given in the same hoarse tones.

Both officers and men assembled in the lee waist, and through that bareheaded crowd the mess-mates of Shenly brought his body to the same gangway where it had thrice winced under the scourge. But there is something in death that ennobles even a pauper's corpse; and the Captain himself stood bareheaded before the remains of a man whom, with his hat on, he had sentenced to the ignominious gratings when alive.

"_I am the resurrection and the life!_" solemnly began the Chaplain, in full canonicals, the prayer-book in his hand.

"Damn you! off those booms!" roared a boatswain's mate to a crowd of top-men, who had elevated themselves to gain a better view of the scene.

"_We commit this body to the deep!_" At the word, Shenly's mess- mates tilted the board, and the dead sailor sank in the sea.

"Look aloft," whispered Jack Chase. "See that bird! it is the spirit of Shenly."

Gazing upward, all beheld a snow-white, solitary fowl, which-- whence coming no one could tell--had been hovering over the main-mast during the service, and was now sailing far up into the depths of the sky.

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