Temple's Diary Temple's Diary
Episode 4. Back to a Changed Philadelphia

The Electric Franklin

September 17, 1775

— "Master Franklin!" she shrieked. "You're home! You're back from New Jersey, aren't you? From visiting your father the governor in his big, big house?"

There she was, stepping out of the City Tavern, eyes sparkling, dimples dancing... And me? A clod, looking down. After catching a glimpse of her through the window, I had spent more than an hour walking back and forth, preparing my greeting if she should appear, making sure the word "syllabub" was in it, to help her remember who I am, making it sound casual, you know, just a boy taking a walk on a late afternoon of late summer. But when she burst out all in smiles, calling me by my name, I was stunned. "How do you know my name?" I muttered. Sullen, stupid clod. My father the governor, the celebrated Dr. Franklin my grandfather. How else would she know my name?

She took my hand. "Did you really like that syllabub all that much?" She was giggling. Come on, Temple. You know what you should say. You should say: "No, it was you I liked." But all that came out was a grouchy, "yes."

We walked in the sunshine. There was a yellow leaf here and there. I noticed that her hair, what I saw of it outside her bonnet, had more russet in it than I remembered. She chatted gaily, enjoying the cool breeze, telling me how tiring it had been to carry those heavy trays through the hot and humid summer. But then, as the second oldest of seven children, she had to help out her family, didn't she? Suddenly it was over. Her father was very strict, she said, and she had better get home quickly.

— "Goodbye, what's your first name, Master Franklin?"

— "William. Or Temple. Or Billy."

— "I'll choose Billy. Goodbye, Billy. My name is Abigail."