AUTHOR'S NOTE:  I'm very sorry for the delay everyone!  I hope you enjoy this chapter, and please review and tell me what you think!

On Her Own Terms

Chapter 3

            When she reached the stairs and looked down them, Daisy saw that her Grandfather was waiting for her at the bottom and smiled. 

            "You didn't have to wait for me," she told him when she reached the bottom.

            "I wanted to hear how your ride was," he told her.

            "It was perfect until it started raining," Daisy told him.  "And of course, there was the lecture mother gave me when I got back," she said as they slowly walked down the hallway.  "You know how much fun those are," Daisy said sarcastically, rolling her eyes.

            Grandfather chucked.  "Well at least she has guests to distract her."

            Daisy glanced sheepishly at her grandfather.  "But I think she's trying to play matchmaker!" she said quietly.

            But to Daisy's surprise, Grandfather merely chuckled.  "Why, Mr. Franklin is far too old for you, so I wouldn't worry about that," he said lightly, with a slight smile on his face.

            Daisy's mouth fell open.  "But I meant…oh," she said, realization dawning.  She smiled and told him, "that's one subject I'd prefer not to be teased about."

            "Fair enough," Grandfather said, moving towards the dining room door and opening it for Daisy.  "After you," he said, gesturing inside the room with his hand.

            "Thank you," Daisy said as she passed him and entered the room.  Her mother was already in the room, as was Will, although how he'd managed to visit his horse and then get changed so fast was beyond Daisy.

            Will stood up as she entered the room, and Daisy gave him a slight curtsey.  "Good evening, Will.  Good evening Mother."  Daisy went and took her seat next to her mother.

            Her mother, with a smile still fixed on her face, murmured, "You should address him formally."

            "He told me to call him that," Daisy said, as inconspicuously as her mother had.

            Then Mr. Franklin and Daisy's father entered and Faith signaled to the servants to begin serving the meal.

            John looked at his newest guest and asked, "How was your ride here?"

            "Fairly easy, sir," Will told him.  "I was glad I got here before the rain."

            "It rained?" John asked, his mouth dropping open.  When he was engrossed in his work, the weather often escaped his notice.  "Why Daisy," he said, looking at his daughter, "You did not get caught in it, did you?"

            Daisy looked up cautiously.  "I was raining when I returned home Father, but I managed to stop at Mrs. Close's house for a little bit to keep myself warm."

            "She was your gatekeeper's wife, was she not?" Mr. Franklin asked.

            "Yes, indeed," John told him.  "And a finer one we have never had."

            "Odd," Mr. Franklin said, glancing at his friend James and then at Daisy, "but I stopped there on my way to your house and she had the most beautiful horse I had ever seen.  I wonder how she could afford it."  Mr. Franklin glanced curiously at his friend.

            Daisy looked over at her grandfather, a slight wariness in her eyes.  "Well, I believe…" James started, and then petered out, not quite sure what to say.

            "She told me her husband had saved up some money and it was left to her when he died," Daisy said, thinking quickly.  Her grandfather had been the executor of Mr. Close's will, so no one but him would know that this was false.  "She used it to buy Harry." 

            Will scrutinized Daisy.  He was good at reading people, and something struck him as off in her statement, although he could not tell what it was.  There would surely be no reason for her to lie about it, would there?

            Mr. Franklin merely glanced amusedly at James.  "Some legacy," was all he muttered though.

            "And how was dear Mrs. Close today?" Faith asked her daughter.

            "She was very well," Daisy replied.  "She sends her love."  A lie, but her mother wouldn't know that.

            "She was always the most pleasant neighbor," Faith told Mr. Franklin.

            "Ah, well love your neighbor, my dear, but don't pull down your hedge," Mr. Franklin said, his eyes sparkling.

            "Franklin, you really must stop quoting yourself," James said good-humoredly.

            "That will be the day," Will spoke up.  "The only thing Uncle Ben likes better than quoting himself is hearing other people quote him."

            Mr. Franklin laughed heartily at his nephew's witticism.  "That is very true, Will knows me well."

            Will smiled back, and at that moment it was obvious that the two were very close, even for uncles and nephews.

            "Now what was this about some declaration you were telling me about earlier?" John asked Mr. Franklin.

            "Ah, that would be the Declaration of Rights and Grievances from the Continental Congress," Mr. Franklin told him. 

            Daisy began eating but paid close attention to the talk between the men.

            "And what exactly does it consist of?" John asked.

            "Well, it was merely a letter to the King of England, telling him of our grievances yet at the same time pledging our loyalty to him," Mr. Franklin explained.

            "Don't plan on it working," James said quietly.

            "What are these grievances that you speak of?  Are we not here and now enjoying great economic prosperity?  No good can come from angering the king," John said passionately.

            "Our aim was not to anger the king," Mr. Franklin explained, "although I'm sure that we did.  I warned them that the kind was temperamental.  I have learned something from being the colonial envoy to Great Britian.  But it had to be done.  There was no other way to go except for an outright declaration of independence, and instead we chose to try to reconcile with the king one more time."

            "But like I said, we have no grievances," John argued.

            "You might not," James pointed out to his son, "but there are many others in the colonies that do."

            "Indeed!" Mr. Franklin said, nodding his head vigorously.

            "I don't think there is any one in the colonies who can say that they have not been affected by the Intolerable Acts, not to mention all of the other indignities that we have been subjected to," Will spoke up passionately.

            John looked at Will as if he had grown two heads.  He used to his father and Mr. Franklin getting worked up about matters such as this, but he hardly expected it of this young man.

            Daisy looked on with increasing interest, and it was becoming a struggle to keep her mouth shut.  She wanted to say that she agreed – that the Intolerable Acts were indeed just that, Intolerable, and meant to punish all the colonies, Massachusetts especially, for protesting the policies of the king.  Daisy knew that her father opposed any such movements against the king, but she could not help herself.  She had to bite her tongue to keep from saying anything.

            "And how can one so young know this?" John asked Will after a long pause.

            "I have been living in Boston for the past year," Will said slowly.  "The Quartering Act is not quite an issue here, as there are no British soldiers stationed here yet, but in Boston we are forced to house British soldiers.  We are also supposed to feed them.  The British have shut down our harbor because of the tea party, and now our main source of income is gone.  We can no longer fish or trade.  Businesses are going bankrupt daily.  People are struggling to feed their families, and they also have to provide for the soldiers.  Not to mention all the taxes that have been heaped upon us without representation in Parliament."

            Mr. Franklin beamed at his nephew, obviously proud of him.

            John sighed.  "But don't you people realize that we are heading for war?  War, I tell you!"  A note of panic went through his voice.  "I do not want to have to live through war.  War causes more evil than good."

            "If the British government would just give us our freedom, then all our problems would be solved, would they not?" Mr. Franklin posited lightly. 

            At this point Faith, bored of the political conversation, turned the subject to their social engagements for the next few days.

            The men willingly stopped their conversation, and for the rest of dinner, less controversial subjects prevailed.  Daisy was not required to talk much, so she spent most of dinnertime staring at her plate or glass and thinking about the conversation she had just witnessed.  It had given her much food for thought.  At one point, she looked up and saw Will staring at her with a look of uncertainness on his face.  He looked away when he saw that she had noticed her, and Daisy smiled a little bit to herself.  He was probably trying to work out what she was like, but Daisy knew that she must come off as somewhat confusing, and it gave her satisfaction to know that he would not be able to decipher her character, or at least not in the space of his visit.

            It was then that she heard Mr. Franklin say, "Oh yes, I had a favor to ask of your family."

            "Yes?" John asked.

            "I will be heading off soon to Philadelphia for the Second Constitutional Convention, and I will likely be very busy.  I simply cannot be a proper guardian to Will.  I was hoping you would consider letting Will stay with you."

            Daisy's head shot up straight at this, and her eyes widened.  This was not good at all.

            "Why we would be happy to!" Faith answered, a little too enthusiastically for Daisy's taste, after John nodded.  "Is that not a wonderful idea, Daisy?" she asked her daughter.

            Daisy forced a fake smile on her face and answered, "Yes, Mother", while inwardly she wanted to scream.  Having Will around would mean that her mother would constantly be throwing them together in an attempt to weasel a proposal out of Will.  The thought left Daisy cold.

            "It would probably not be for very long," Will told them eagerly.  "Uncle Ben and I have an agreement – if the war starts in earnest, I can join the army."

            "Well then you probably will not be staying with us for very long, my boy," James said.  "I believe the war could be starting any day now."

            Daisy looked at Will and could see his eyes shining at the prospect.  Daisy meditated on that for a minute.  It was one thing to be for separating from Britain, but it was another to be willing to risk your life for it.  Could she ever do something like that? 

At that moment, Daisy made a decision.  She would do something like that.  She didn't know how, she didn't know when, but she would find a way to show the world what independence is worth to her.

TBC…