Chapter 4, The Rising Eye Notes from Johnny Tremain

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Johnny Tremain Chapter 4, The Rising Eye

Johnny awakes past dawn, happily imagining what his life would be like once he becomes a member of the privileged Lyte family. Upon reaching Merchant Lyte's counting office, Johnny is told to wait. When the door opens, Johnny opportunistically walks in. He tells Merchant Lyte that his name is Jonathan Lyte Tremain and begins to explain his situation. But before he could finish, Merchant Lyte tells Johnny that his story is an old trick and that he had better get out. Merchant Lyte calls for his clerk, Sewall to throw Johnny out. His pride wounded, Johnny insults the rich merchant, "Now that I've met you face to face, I don't much fancy you as kin" (pg. 68). Before he leaves, Johnny tells the merchant that he has a cup proving he is a Lyte. The mention of the cup brings great joy to the merchant. He asks Johnny to bring it to his Beacon Hill home later that night.

Johnny heads back to the Lapham household with the attitude that he is now a member of the upper class. At home, Mrs. Lapham, in the presence of her daughters, tells Johnny three things: to get out of the birth and death room in order to make room for Mr. Tweedie, to never make fun of Mr. Tweedie again, and to never even think of setting his eyes on one of her daughters for marriage. Johnny tells her crossly that he looks down on her girls and then makes fun of Cilla for good measure. He takes his cup and goes out, thinking once more about his bright future. He feels good enough to go see Rab and tell him what has happened.

Upon hearing the story, Rab tells Johnny that Merchant Lyte is crooked--that he imported English goods secretly even though all the merchants had agreed not to until the Stamp Act was repealed. Rab says that although Tories like Governor Hutchinson are wrong, they are not as loathsome as Merchant Lyte, who is trying to be both a Whig and a Tory, just for financial gain. Johnny acknowledges this, but since he is a beggar, he must do what he must. Rab offers Johnny his outgrown linen ruffled shirt and a corduroy jacket. He also puts food before Johnny and wishes him luck with Merchant Lyte.

Johnny arrives at the Lyte's mansion on Beacon Hill. He enters the room where the Lytes and their guests are waiting. Aunt Best, an ugly old woman, makes a snide comment about Johnny's appearance. Sewall, apparently a cousin of Miss Lavinia Lyte, is there also. They all move to the dining room where there are three cups identical to Johnny's. He sets the cup down next to the three and Merchant Lyte and the others agree that it is of the same set. Merchant Lyte promptly orders one of the men to arrest Johnny for theft, accusing the boy of having taken the cup on the twenty-third of August 1773. Merchant Lyte explains to the sheriff that according to the testimony of Mrs. Lapham, Johnny does not own anything and he has recently taken to evil ways. Mr. Tweedie also testifies to Johnny being a notorious liar. The sheriff asks Johnny if he has any relatives that might be able to help him. Johnny asks for Rab.

Topic Tracking: Identity 3

Johnny spends the night in jail, but this is not as bad as having his heart broken by Isannah's horrified squeals about his hand, or the night of crying at the graveyard at Copp's Hill. Johnny thinks about the possibility of having to face the gallows.

After breakfast, Rab arrives as Johnny thought he would. Johnny notices that Rab has a medal hung around him with an engraving of the Tree of Liberty, denoting his membership in the Sons of Liberty, the semi-secret group known to wreak havoc and arouse fear in anyone against American liberation. Johnny never thought too much about what the Sons of Liberty stood for, but now he imagines that joining them would be fun.

Cilla turns out to be a key witness because she is the only person who saw Johnny's cup before the day Merchant Lyte's cup was stolen. But Merchant Lyte tries to prevent Cilla from testifying by visiting the Lapham silver shop with an advance payment on several orders. He gets an assurance from Mrs. Lapham that Cilla would not testify before the court. Rab tells Johnny that Josiah Quincy, the best young lawyer is Boston, will be available for free counsel. Rab, himself, will arrange for a way so that Cilla will be available to testify on Tuesday.

At the trial, Justice Dana presides as Johnny sits by Josiah Quincy. Merchant Lyte enters with Sewall. Later, Miss Lyte walks in. On the stand, Merchant Lyte presents his case, of how on the 23rd day of August someone broke in and stole one of his four silver cups, of Johnny's claim to kinship, and of Johnny's wayward character. He asks for the death penalty because he feels that poor apprentices are getting out of hand.

Before Johnny takes the stand, he sees Rab enter with Cilla. Encouraged by Cilla's presence, Johnny tells his side of the story with confidence. Finally, Cilla is called and she speaks clearly, verifying Johnny's testimony. Even Isannah makes her way onto the court and repeats Cilla's statements. Justice Dana is readily convinced that there is no evidence Johnny had stolen the cup. The case is dismissed.

Topic Tracking: Friendship 2

Outside, the winning party enjoys the moment of triumph; meanwhile, Isannah talks to an adoring Miss Lavinia Lyte. Cilla calls for her. When Isannah gets back, she tries to kiss Johnny. Johnny is too proud to bend down so Isannah kisses his burned hand. Johnny feels as he might just cry.

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