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Johnny Tremain

Esther Forbes

Chapters XI–XII

Chapter X: ‘Disperse, Ye Rebels!’

Chapters XI–XII, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary: Chapter XI: Yankee Doodle

The cow that lowed, the man who milked, the chickens that came running and the woman who called them, the fragrance streaming from the plowed land and the plowman. These he possessed.

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When Johnny wakes up, Doctor Warren tells him about the events that occurred in Lexington. A handful of rebels were killed, but Doctor Warren does not know their names. Johnny instantly thinks about Rab. Doctor Warren heads to Lexington to tend to the wounded, and Johnny asks to come along. The doctor tells him to stay in Boston and spend the day collecting information, then slip out across the Charles at night to find him and relay what he has gathered.

Outside in the streets of Boston, no one knows that the fighting has begun, but the entire city is at the harbor watching the British soldiers line up and pile into boats. General Gage orders that the leaders of the colonial opposition be arrested, but all of the principal men, such as Adams, Hancock, Revere, and Warren, have already fled toward the fighting in the countryside. Johnny sends a warning message to Uncle Lorne, because printers of Whig papers are also being rounded up. When Johnny finally makes it to the Lorne house, he finds Mrs. Lorne mending a feather mattress. Uncle Lorne steps out of the mattress, and explains that he hid inside because he did not have time to escape.

Next, Johnny goes to the Lyte house. He finds the Lytes loading their possessions into coaches, and he learns that they are moving to London now that war has broken out. Only Cilla and Mrs. Bessie are staying behind. While Johnny talks to Cilla, Lavinia approaches and informs them that Isannah is accompanying her to London. Cilla begs her sister to stay behind. Lavinia asks Isannah if she would prefer a life of luxury or one of poverty. Faced with the choice between her sister and her patroness, Isannah bursts into tears but then quickly chooses to go to London, where Lavinia plans to train the child as an actress.

Lavinia then dismisses Cilla and Mrs. Bessie from the room. She reveals to Johnny that her father was not completely honest when he testified that only four of the six silver cups came to the New World, when in fact, there had been five. Mr. Lyte had no reason to believe, she explains, that Johnny could be in possession of the fifth cup, because he had never been told that Johnny’s mother had a child. The entire family believed that both of Johnny’s parents died of cholera in France. Johnny’s father was a French soldier who became a prisoner of war in Boston during the French and Indian War, and during that time he went under the assumed name of Charles Latour. Johnny’s mother fell in love with Charles and defied her parents by running off to France with him after his release. When Charles died, the Tremain family sent his young widow to a convent, hoping that she would convert to Catholicism. It was in that convent that Johnny was born. Lavinia excuses her father’s dishonest conduct by swearing that he did not know any of this information at the time of the trial. It was only after the trial that she began to investigate, and uncovered the facts that she is now revealing. Lavinia and her father now acknowledge that Johnny has a right to some of their property, and she tells him that he is free to stake his claim to whatever is left when the war is over.

Summary: Chapter XII: A Man Can Stand Up

Johnny travels to Lexington, trying to find Doctor Warren, but also searching for news about Rab. When he finds Warren, he learns that Rab was seriously wounded in the first volley of shots fired at Lexington, and he goes to a small back room in a tavern where Rab is resting. Rab gives Johnny his musket, saying that his only regret is that it was never fired in battle. Then he sends Johnny away, asking him to locate his family. No members of Rab’s family are in their house, and Johnny returns, defeated, to learn that Rab has died in his absence. Rab had sent him away on a wild-goose chase because he did not want Johnny to see him die.

Alone with Doctor Warren, Johnny finally lets him examine his injured hand. The thumb, the doctor discovers, is fused to the palm only by scar tissue. If Johnny is brave enough to stand the pain, Warren can cut the thumb loose. It is unlikely that Johnny will ever be a silversmith again, but he will be able to fire a gun. Johnny takes a walk while Warren prepares his surgical instruments. Looking across the landscape, at the people readying themselves for more fighting, he is filled with an intense love for his country.

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