As day followed day, the figure of the great negro, his pleasant greeting, his slow, vague smile and soft speech became so commonplace that he could wander at will through the fortress, never accosted or questioned, except as a friend. He consistently used every ruse he could think of to establish his reputation as a strong but slow-witted and harmless man.
Thinking this all over as he lazed against the pine tree Cudjo concluded that the time had now come when he felt a degree of safety in making first contact with his master, whose cell he had located on an upper level of the fort some two-thirds up a long stone stairway leading to the battlements. Thus far he had carefully avoided any recognition of himself by his loved "Massa." He wished their first meeting to take place at a time chosen by himself when observation by a Britisher would be at a minimum.
This occasion presented itself in the dark of a late afternoon when general visibility was diminished by shadows from the stone walls. With his back to the barred cell window, Dudjo gave a low, distinctive whistle, for years the recognition signal between these two. At once came a low whistle in response.
"Marse Willum," whispered Cudjo, "keep down low from the window so nobody see we's talkin'. How is you doin'?"
"Cudjo, you scamp, how welcome your voice is to me! Where have you been all this long time? How are you? Where is Lieutenant Milton?"
"Ilss fine, suh, but I doan know nothin' about Mr. Milton-- ain't seed him atall, but l'ss makin' us a plan to git you out of hyar. Is you lost any of them pounds you was carrying round afore them nasty Redcoats got you and brung you hyar?"
"Yes, I've lost a lot of weight---rations are low in the fort and meals slim. Why do you ask that especial question?"
"Cain't take time now to tell you, suh; must go from hyar afore they sees me. I wants you to jest bout starve yo'self and lose more of them pounds. Do dat. I'll talk to you again soon as
I kin when it's safe. Don't let nobody know wese talked togedder. Bye, suh."
With that Cudjo began descent of the long flight of steps, humming