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Johnny Tremain

Johnny Tremain

by Esther Forbes

Johnny Tremain Chapter 11 Summary

Yankee Doodle

  • In contrast to many quickly moving chapters, this one covers a single day.
  • Johnny wakes up in Doctor Warren's surgery on the morning of April 19. The street outside is so full of British soldiers that they're pressing up against the house.
  • Doctor Warren packs his medical bag and tells Johnny about the Battle of Lexington, in which about seventy members of the Colonial militia fought roughly seven hundred British regulars. The British won easily and headed for Concord.
  • Doctor Warren isn't sure what's happening now, but he's heading for Lexington, both to help with the wounded and to get out of Dodge (or, um, Boston) since the British won't hold back on punishing the leaders of the rebellion now that the war has started.
  • He tells Johnny to stay around Boston today and pick up what information he can, and then find him in Lexington to report.
  • They shake hands, and Johnny knows that Warren is always aware of his injury.
  • Johnny walks the streets of Boston, picking up information; he sees hundreds of British soldiers lined up and ready to go somewhere.
  • He also runs into Madge, who flings herself, sobbing, on him. She's crying because Sergeant Gale, her new husband, is going to war. Sergeant Gale himself is there, proud for his wife to see him screaming at his troops.
  • Johnny is impressed by the might and majesty of England as represented by the troops and the flag, and he is saddened by the memory of all the good things the colonies are rebelling against. He starts to remove his hat to the British flag for the last time, but then he remembers the shooting has begun, and he can't do it.
  • The troops move out to the tune of "Yankee Doodle," which they play to insult the colonists.
  • People still aren't sure what's happened, but rumors of battle are beginning.
  • British arrest squads go from house to house to arrest leaders of the rebellion, but most of the leaders are already gone, and all the squads can do is destroy property.
  • Johnny runs to Salt Lane to warn Uncle Lorne. He finds the Boston Observer's sign smashed, along with the printing presses, and in the attic, his mattress has been bayoneted.
  • He runs across the street to the Lornes's house, where he finds Aunt Jenifer calmly sewing a new ticking on a feather bed.
  • Uncle Lorne crawls out of the feather bed, where he hid from the British soldiers.
  • Johnny tells Aunt Jenifer that he's pretty sure from their anger that the British are losing.
  • Johnny heads to Beacon Hill, guessing which direction the battle will go next and thinking he'll be able to see it from there.
  • Other people have had the same idea, and Beacon Hill is crowded. He can see across the water to Charlestown, but not very well—all anyone can see is a few flashes of musket fire.
  • Johnny needs to find a way to get out of Boston and meet up with Doctor Warren, but he knows it won't be easy. He decides he'll need to disguise himself in Pumpkin's uniform, so he goes to the Lytes's house to get it from Cilla.
  • The Lytes are moving out and moving out fast. They are getting on a ship and sailing for England, where they are planning to stay at least until the war is over and probably permanently.
  • Johnny finds Cilla and Mrs. Bessie in the kitchen, not helping. Cilla tells him that the other servants are Tories, but she and Mrs. Bessie are Whigs, so they are going to stay and look after the property.
  • Miss Lavinia has gone to ask Mrs. Lapham—now Mrs. Tweedie—to let her take Isannah to England. Cilla insists that her mother will never allow it, but Miss Lavinia appears and says otherwise.
  • Miss Lavinia's nastiness is back, and she makes Isannah choose between her and Cilla. Isannah decides to go with the Lytes and be made into an actress in London.
  • Miss Lavinia sends Cilla to help Isannah pack and insists she must speak to Johnny alone.
  • It appears Miss Lavinia has been doing some digging to find out who Johnny really is, because she addresses him as Jonathan Lyte Tremain and tells him the whole story of his parents.
  • It turns out Johnny's father was a French doctor who met Johnny's mother, Vinny Lyte, while he was a prisoner of war during the French and Indian War. Neither family approved of their marriage, and Johnny's father died of fever three months before he was born in a French convent. His mother sailed from France to Townsend, Maine, and then, years later, returned to Boston when she thought no one would recognize her.
  • Miss Lavinia says she recognized something of her older cousin in Johnny when he appeared in court and started investigating.
  • She makes it clear that her father did not intentionally cheat Johnny: Mr. Lyte has promised he will write this all down so that Johnny can make a claim for the Lyte property when the war is over.
  • Johnny asks how he's related to her. She says they're some sort of cousin, but he can call her "Aunt Lavinia," which effectively ends his crush on her.
  • Johnny doesn't have time to think all this over.
  • He tells Mrs. Bessie and Cilla his plan to disguise himself in Pumpkin's uniform. Mrs. Bessie says he'll get shot for impersonating a British soldier and insists he stay and help them look after the horses.
  • Johnny comes up with a plan for Cilla to go to the Afric Queen and bring Goblin to stay with the Lyte horses. He tells her to get Uncle Lorne and his family and have Uncle Lorne pose as the stable master, which will kill two birds with one stone.
  • Johnny puts on Pumpkin's uniform and prepares to leave to find Doctor Warren and Rab.
  • He kisses Cilla before he leaves, and all we have to say about that is finally. It only took a war.

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