Study Guide

Johnny Tremain Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

The Boston Observer

  • Mr. Quincy takes Rab, Johnny, Cilla, and Isannah out to dinner at the Afric Queen, a nearby tavern. Many people stop by their table to congratulate them and laugh at Mr. Lyte.
  • Rab explains that he got Cilla out by tricking the illiterate Mrs. Lapham into thinking a signed and stamped letter from Governor Hutchinson was an order for Cilla to appear in court. Actually, it was a letter to his uncle, Mr. Lorne, owner of the Boston Observer, to stop printing seditious content. He had prepped Isannah and hidden her nearby in case he couldn't get Cilla.
  • Rab and Cilla both think that Johnny plans to go home with the other, but he decides to sleep in the Afric Queen's stable instead. This is another of those times Johnny has too much pride for his own good.
  • Johnny finds a sea captain who is willing to hire him, but Johnny doesn't have and can't buy the necessary equipment for a cabin boy's job.
  • Because he can't find a job, Johnny decides he must sell his cup.
  • Guess who he decides to sell it to? Mr. Lyte. Sometimes, for all his cleverness, Johnny is none too bright. He takes the cup to Mr. Lyte, telling him it's worth about four pounds in old silver. Then he offers it to Mr. Lyte for twenty pounds, since it should be worth more to someone who has the set. Oh, Johnny—you are so stupidly bold sometimes.
  • Mr. Lyte straight up grabs the cup, and then he calls his two nasty old clerks in, and they all decide to say that Johnny confessed to stealing the cup.
  • Mr. Lyte sends for a Captain Bull and tells Johnny he's going to send him on a nice voyage to Guadalupe.
  • Johnny makes a break for it and doesn't stop running until he's all the way back at the Boston Observer.
  • He bursts in on Mr. Lorne, asking if he still wants a horse boy. Johnny admits that he's never even been on a horse before, but Rab says he can teach him to ride.
  • Mr. Lorne explains that Johnny will have the first four days of every week free and will spend Thursday delivering papers in Boston and Friday and Saturday delivering to small towns around Boston.
  • They agree that Mr. Lorne will room, feed, and clothe Johnny, and he'll sleep in the attic with Rab.
  • Johnny has to learn to ride first, so Rab takes him to the Afric Queen's stables to meet Goblin, a beautiful horse whose natural timidity has been increased by abuse.
  • Goblin has a famous sire, but Rab got him almost free because very few people can ride him.
  • Johnny and Rab spend an autumn afternoon riding on Boston Common, but that's Johnny's only formal lesson—Johnny really learns to ride Goblin by riding Goblin a lot which, of course, forces him to take his hand out of his pocket and use it.
  • While delivering papers, Johnny learns to love the countryside, and his natural pride is fed by the dramatic entrances he and Goblin make and the attention he is paid in small towns since he comes from the capitol.
  • By riding for the Boston Observer and talking to other Whigs, Johnny goes from not caring at all about politics to being a Whig himself.
  • While sharing the loft with Rab, Johnny notices that an unusual number of chairs are stored there—Rab tells him that a secret Whig society known as the Boston Observers meets there.
  • On his free days, Johnny delivers letters for customers at the Afric Queen, faster than the regular mail. He also learns to write with his left hand and reads extensively for the first time in his life.
  • He becomes a regular part of the Lorne family, even watching the baby for Aunt Jenifer while he reads in Mr. Lorne's library. None of them think Johnny's reading is a waste of time, which is a contrast to the Lapham family's views.
  • Despite his happiness at the Boston Observer, Johnny misses the Laphams's house. Whatever's familiar, we guess.
  • Fortunately, he runs into Cilla and Isannah at the town pump, but he's dismayed to learn that Cilla now has to carry water for the family. He asks her to meet him there every Thursday and Sunday afternoon so he can carry the water for her. And, um, because he misses her. She gives him a maybe.
  • The only thing Johnny doesn't like about his new life is that his new BFF, Rab, is clearly so much more mature than he is. Rab asks him why he loses his temper and lashes out at people so much, and Johnny is forced to realize he needs to control himself better.
  • Practicing this newfound control, Johnny keeps his temper when a servant at Sam Adams's house accidentally throws wash water on him as he's delivering the newsletter. Fourth Founding Father alert: now Johnny gets to hang with Sam Adams.
  • Rab and Johnny attend a harvest dance out at the Silsbee compound in Lexington, where Johnny dances with tons of girls and none of them even notices his burned hand. When Johnny remarks on this, Rab tells him it's because he himself forgot about it and didn't act like it was the ugliest thing in the world; he basically says Isannah's screams were Johnny's own fault.
  • Later that fall, the butcher's boy threatens to make stew meat out of Mr. Lorne's younger apprentices' cat, so Rab and Johnny rescue the cat and have an epic fist fight with the butcher's whole family.
  • Johnny talks to Aunt Lorne about how Rab never seems to react or have any other emotion besides total calm, and she says most of the Silsbees are like that, but she didn't inherit those tendencies.

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