Liquid fire coursing down his throat jolted Matthew back to life. Through ice-crusted eyelashes he stared at the sailor lowering the grog ladle from his lips, barely able to feel the rough blankets that wrapped his naked body. Then a burly seaman hoisted him on his shoulder and carried him forward, propping him up before a figure who stood with his back to him.
Without turning, the captain of the blockade runner rapped on the railing for Matthew's attention. "The crew says ye claim to be American," he rasped in a pronounced Scots brogue. "Though it seemed to me ye pulled hard enough at His Majesty's oar."
Now he turned, and Matthew gasped: it was John Paul Jones, sharp-eyed and unsmiling. Teeth chattering so badly he couldn't get the words out, Matthew shook his head. "P-P-Pressed," he said. "A whole year I've been at sea!"