Johnny Tremain Chapter 3, An Earth of Brass
For weeks, Johnny goes about the streets, half-heartedly looking for a new trade. He looks at the picture signs above the shops that reveal what is being done inside. He makes inquiries, but is rejected because of his maimed hand.
Mrs. Lapham has been busy arranging for a newly arrived bachelor from Baltimore, Mr. Tweedie, to partner in the store and marry one of her daughters. She tells Johnny that he can no longer use the birth and death room. She also lets Johnny know that he is eating more than he is worth. Feeling cut off from the world, Johnny stops showing up to dinner and tries to eat as little as possible. He often finds food in his jacket, obviously put in there by Cilla. Johnny daydreams about one day becoming successful so he can give Cilla the three things she desires: a gold necklace, a gray pony with a basket cart, and a little sailboat.
Johnny happens upon a shop with a sign of a little painted man in a bright blue coat and red breeches, looking through a spyglass. It is the office of the Boston Observer, the newspaper Johnny often hears Mr. Lapham referring to as an instigator of colonial revolt. Johnny finds the sign inviting; he walks in. He sees a young boy a few years older than him talking with a woman who is looking to advertise for her lost, beloved pig. After the woman leaves, the boy invites Johnny to eat with him. Taking an instant liking to the boy, Johnny asks if there is an opening for an apprentice with a bad hand. The boy remarks that it must be a recent burn--the first intelligent comment Johnny has heard about his hand. The boy's name is Rab. Johnny confides to him all about the past several months, about his problems, and about his current situation.
Mr. Lorne, Rab's uncle by marriage and the owner of the printing shop, walks in with two little boys, the Webb twins. As Johnny gets up to leave, Rab offers him a job as a rider (paper delivery boy) if nothing else works out. Johnny promises to visit again once he finds his trade. Johnny notices that Rab has a certain aura about him that sets people's minds at ease.
Meanwhile, Mr. Tweedie, the bachelor from Baltimore, is ever closer to signing on as a partner in the Lapham silver shop. Johnny catches him one morning at the house waiting to be asked for breakfast, and immediately disapproves of the man's cowardly character. Mrs. Lapham comes down the stairs in a sour mood. Things have not gone right that day. Johnny speaks his mind about what he thinks of Mr. Tweedie. Mrs. Lapham tells Johnny to leave the house.
Johnny takes to the streets. Johnny looks either like a unfortunate boy from a significant family or someone on the verge of being a criminal. Johnny heads to Long Wharf to see if he can get a job with one of the many merchants in the area. There, he sees a coach with the familiar crest of Merchant Lyte. Johnny knows all about the Lytes, that they have a mansion on Beacon Hill and a townhouse in Milton. He gazes at Miss Lavinia Lyte, recently returned from London, whose beauty of form and style sets the standard of elegance in Boston.
Johnny goes to the office of John Hancock to ask for work. After successfully passing a test of reading an invoice, he is told to write "John Hancock, Esquire." He tries his best, but can only manage scribbles. When John Hancock sees Johnny's crippled hand, he begs him to leave. Jehu, Mr. Hancock's slave boy, gives Johnny a purse with a silver coin in it. Johnny goes from tavern to tavern, looking for the perfect place to satisfy his hunger. He finally ends up at the Afric Queen. Johnny orders as much food as he can eat, even trying coffee and chocolate for the first time. After the feast, Johnny thinks of Rab--surely he would not have acted like such a glutton. Johnny notices that the Boston Observer office is behind the Afric Queen. He has a mind to go visit Rab, but pride keeps him from going like a beggar. He decides to spend the rest of his money on a new pair of shoes, some limes for Isannah, and a book and crayons for Cilla. At home, Mrs. Lapham accuses Johnny of stealing those things. She storms out, while Madge and Dorcas go to meet a suitor, Frizel, Junior. Johnny shows Cilla and Isannah the gifts he bought. Isannah is overjoyed about the limes. But when Johnny picks her up, Isannah gives off a horrible scream, "Don't touch me! Don't touch me with that dreadful hand!" (pg. 62). Both Johnny and Cilla cannot believe what they are hearing. "Go away, Johnny, go away! I hate your hand," Isannah continues. Cilla hits her, making her cry. Johnny heads out.
Johnny is shattered by what Isannah said. He wanders through the Boston Common, and heads toward Beacon Hill. He walks further until one o'clock in the morning (past the curfew for apprentices) and ends up in the graveyard in Copp's Hill. Johnny falls before his mother's grave and cries. He feels like he is at the end; even God has turned away. After falling asleep for a while, Johnny wakes up and remembers his mother's words to go seek Merchant Lyte for help if he has no other way out. Having decided this, he falls soundly asleep.