his failure to depart upon the sounding of retreat, the signal that all outsiders must leave the fort. The garrison settled to its night's rest with rustlings, and imprecations against
the weather. Lanterns were extinguished in the soldiers' quarters. Cudjo stole up the steps and gave his low whistle, then whispered just loud enough to be heard over the sounds of the rain and wind, "Come quick, Massa Willum, time to go."
Not waiting for a response he grasped two adjoining window bars in his strong hands, and with the exertion of every muscle in his powerful arms and shoulders, inch by slow inch, he forced them apart and somewhat loose from their surrounding masonry.
His efforts caused the sweat to pour from his body to mingle with the rain drops, until he was as drenched as a sailor at sea just rescued from a fall overboard.
William was by then standing at the window, leaning weakly on
the sill. In compliance with Cudjo's behest his master's starvation had been thorough. Had there been light enough to reveal his condition, anyone acquainted with him previously, would have been horrified, as was Cudjo, at this transformation into the skeleton facing his rescuer.
"Laws a murcy, Massa, you is so thin you almost ain't hyar! What the sojers say? They think you sick and cain't eat?" Lacking strength, William's answer was a simple, "Yes. Help me out, Cudjo, for I've very little strength."
With black hands under the armpits, and William's own slight twistings, the servant drew his master through the opening between the bars, but when freed from the cell Cudjo found him too feeble to support himself. Taking the emaciated form gently into his loving arms the servant ascended the long flight of stairs, keeping closely to the wall and taking each wet step with the caution of an Indian stalking his quarry in the forest. A fall now would be catastrophic to both rescuer and erstwhile prisoner. This was the beginning of the most dangerous portion of the journey to freedom, All could end should a soldier wander their way. Cudjo had checked the time for changing the guards in the watch towers and was safe in that quarter.