I opened my eyes, incredulous. The Englishman, who seemed loth to spare his charges any opportunity for humiliation or physical injury, merely stared for a moment before shaking his head and wandering off, finding some other poor soul to abuse.
“H-how—” I stammered, looking to the Native American, who smiled.
“It’s useless,” he explained. “They can’t break me. They’ve been trying for nigh on fifteen years, now, but they can’t break me.” He grabbed a knife from a split in the crossbeam and began working with it. “Name’s Pine Tree, though you might’ve already guessed that,” he explained, working the rope. “How about you?”
I swallowed a bit. “Name’s James,” I offered.
“James Bridgman.” He inhaled deeply. “Nice name. How’d you get here?”
“I was at a bar…”
“You got crimped.”
“So was I.” Pine Tree began to work his way down the mast. “Follow me, Mr. Bridgman,” he invited. “I’m sorry to say it, but you’re going to be a guest onboard the Drumhead for awhile.”