The trio approached the house and upon arriving at the portico were greeted by Mrs. Caldwell, erect and dignified in her gray bombazine with its white collar and cuffs, a garnet brooch at her throat, who looked with pity at the bedraggled creatures facing her. The two men stood somewhat behind the young lady and Cudjo could discern her puzzlement in the expression of the older woman. Did she recognize something about the tall, thin white man---his eyes, his nose perhaps? The rest of his face was masked by unkept beard and grime, his hair long and shaggy, his clothing tattered and soiled. Nor was Cudjo's own appearance any more prepossessing.
"What man is this?" Mrs. Caldwell asked Elizabeth.
"I do not know. I trust not a Hessian, one of those horrible British mercenaries. My horse threw me back on the road, and he was of assistance to me, and sounded rather cultured in speech. I may have misjudged him, but offered him help from you if it were needed."
"Scuse me, Missy," spoke Cudjo. "Dis man say he knows about a Marse Willum Caldwell. He say he alright and he'll tell you bout but kin we clean up some and have some vittles afore he talks to you?"
"Sambo", she called to her houseboy, standing with undisguised curiosity in the doorway, "give these men ample food, then take
the white man up to Mr. William's room. Help him with his needs---a bath and shave and whatever clothes of your master's you can find for his use. There might be something in the old press which would be a better fit than Mr. William's more recent clothes. Direct the colored man to the quarters and tell Big George to outfit him. Don't take an undue length of time, either of you, for you must know my eagerness for news of my son after all these long months of silence. "You may", to the colored man, "when you are fed and have cleaned up, accompany the gentleman to the morning room. I will have questions to ask of you also."
Within the hour, two rehabilitated wanderers presented themselves to Mrs. Caldwell and her visitor. "William, my beloved son," exclaimed his mother in a choked voice. "I had a strange feeling of familiarity when I first saw you, despite your thinness, but your disguise was almost complete. I thank God for your return, as does Elizabeth." After an embrace frought with deep affection she gave him a slight shove in the direction of his fiancee who with steps as eager as his own came into his outstretched arms. "Is it not wonderful that Elizabeth is here to welcome you home? She has