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Blueprint for a Revolution: The Spies at Carpenters' Hall by Charles and Nancy Cook
A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.
–Poor Richard's Almanack, by Benjamin Franklin
Winding Stairway: Dr. Franklin appreciated the economic use of space of the winding staircase, but at his age he was cautious of twists and turns in his life.
Francis Daymon waited as the footsteps stopped outside the front doors. If British soldiers had come to arrest him, there would be a very loud knock, maybe someone barking out for Daymon to give himself up, and then they might even smash in the doors. The double doors were very substantial, but they would not hold out the soldiers of the King if they were determined to break them in and arrest Daymon.
He was thinking so hard about this, he almost did not hear the soft, quiet knock at the door.
It was not the British!
Daymon hurried to unlock the door, because it must be either Bonvouloir, Dr. Franklin, or John Jay, coming for their first secret meeting. He did not want anyone waiting outside for fear someone sympathetic to the British might see him and figure something strange was happening at Carpenters' Hall.
Benjamin Franklin wanted John Jay included in these secret meetings. Jay was also a member of the Committee of Secret Correspondence, and he was much younger than Dr. Franklin, closer in age to Bonvouloir. Benjamin Franklin knew there were many advantages to having someone else negotiate with the French besides himself. His own years had given him experience and hopefully wisdom, but age had taken some stamina and youthful enthusiasm from him.
John Jay made an excellent partner in the secret negotiations. He had studied law and was a successful attorney. He was one of New York's representatives to the Continental Congress. One of the things that Benjamin Franklin admired most about John Jay was that he could make a quick decision and stick by it if it was right, even if it was not a popular choice.
The instructions for all three men had been the same. Each was to approach Carpenters' Hall from a different part of the city, and none of them would take a direct route. They would arrive and leave at different times. Even Benjamin Franklin, who only lived about a block away, did not come directly to Carpenters' Hall.
Everything was going well. As each one arrived, he was certain he had not been followed. It seemed safe to proceed with the first meeting. Daymon went upstairs with Dr. Franklin, who had been the last to arrive. Francis Daymon thought Dr. Franklin should be relieved that everything so far had gone as they had planned, but Daymon had gotten to know his employer very well, and something was still bothering him. As they were climbing the stairs, Benjamin Franklin stopped. Francis Daymon turned.
"There is still a reason we must be very careful of what we say in this first meeting," Benjamin Franklin spoke softly to Francis Daymon. He went on to explain in a whisper, "If this man is a double agent, secretly working for the British, what we say may be delivered directly to our enemies. And if this man is not a double agent, and is only working for France, but he turns out to be unwise or imprudent, then what we say may accidentally fall into the hands of our enemies."
More and more, Francis Daymon was realizing how incredible the odds were against a successful ending to this act of espionage and intrigue.
Dr. Franklin appreciated the economic use of space in the winding staircase, but at his age he was cautious of twists and turns in his life.
They finished climbing the stairs to the second floor, and for a moment, in the dark, Francis Daymon had a fearful vision. He imagined himself climbing the steps of a scaffold beneath a hangman's noose.
He stumbled on the last step.
Copyright by Charles and Nancy Cook. Used by kind permission
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