Johnny Tremain Chapter 7, The Fiddler's Bill
The fiddler's bill turns out to be worse than the townspeople expect. The order is for the port of Boston to be closed; the King is going to starve the town until the tax is paid. Boston's problem becomes the uniting force for the previously fragmented thirteen colonies. Many of the townspeople express this sentiment as they gaze upon His Majesty's ships enforcing the Port Act.
"This closing of the port of Boston was indeed tyranny; this was oppression; this was the last straw upon the back of many a moderate man." Chapter 7, pg. 130
General Hutchinson is sent back to England; now General Gage is in charge. King George III sends regiments of British troops to occupy the town of Boston. Many of the shops are closed due to the closing of the port.
Once or twice a week, Rab would go to Lexington to drill with the other men. Rab is frustrated that he cannot get himself a good gun. One day, Rab touches a British officer's musket and is knocked unconscious by a blow on the side of his head. A medical man helps Rab and tells the boys not to make trouble. His pleasant demeanor makes Johnny think that some of the British are not too bad. The medical man asks if any of them can make deliveries and Johnny volunteers, in case he can get some useful information. By charging three times as much delivering letters for the British, Johnny earns money, which he gives to Mrs. Lorne. She cries the first time he offers it to her.
General Gage turns out to be no tyrant. He lets the townspeople have their say about the British. And Boston gets supplies and support from the rest of the colonies. Johnny watches the Minute Men drill, frustrated that he cannot join them because of his crippled hand.
One day, Johnny finds Cilla with Rab in the Boston Observer office. He finds out from Cilla that Dorcas has run off with Frizel, Junior to escape Mr. Tweedie's marriage proposal. Mr. Tweedie upsets Mrs. Lapham for not settling on Madge and insisting on waiting for Cilla. On top of that, Miss Lavinia Lyte has adopted Isannah and Cilla is currently working and livng in the Lyte's mansion. Cilla comes to tell Johnny that she cannot see him at the pump anymore. Rab walks her home and Johnny gets jealous.
The Afric Queen is taken over by British. Johnny mostly avoids them, except when he has to fight a bully horse boy or two. One of Colonel Smith's new horse boy turns out to be Dove. The colonel's orderly officer, Lieutenant Stranger, offers to buy Goblin for his colonel. Johnny lets the lieutenant try Goblin. While the lieutenant is riding, Johnny, with help from Lydia, a black washerwoman at the Afric Queen, flaps a sheet, scaring Goblin enough to throw the lieutenant into the mud. Although Lieutenant Stranger knows Johnny scared the horse on purpose, he finds it amusing and decides to let Johnny keep the horse. From then on, because of his relationship with Lieutenant Stranger, Johnny is on good terms with the British soldiers from the Afric Queen. On the other hand, all the British stable boys pick on Dove. Johnny cannot help but protect him. So, Dove starts spending a lot of time at the Boston Observer office, boring Rab and Johnny with all his complaining. Rab tells Johnny to endure just in case Dove comes in handy, since a colonel's horse boy might know in advance when an army is preparing to march.
As Johnny is riding one day, he reminisces about the days in the Lapham household, of being mad at Dove, of Mrs. Lapham (she's not so bad), of Madge, and Cilla. He misses Mr. Lapham, who had died that spring. Johnny decides to stop by and see how the family is doing. Johnny sees Mr. Tweedie alone in the shop. At first, Mr. Tweedie is wary of Johnny. As soon as Johnny becomes a customer, however, Mr. Tweedie calls him "sir." In the back yard, Johnny sees Madge on the lap of a small, tough-looking British officer, Sergeant Gale. Johnny finds out from Madge that Mrs. Lapham wants her to marry Mr. Tweedie, although both sides are against it. It is a nice visit, but Johnny feels as if his old life is now no more than a faint memory.
On Thursdays, Johnny goes to visit Cilla at the Lyte mansion. On one of his visits, Miss Bessie, the Lyte's cook, tells Johnny that Cilla is busy because Miss Lavinia is entertaining guests. Cilla comes in and tells Johnny that Miss Lavinia is in need of someone who can work with tin. When Johnny enters the drawing room, he sees Isannah in only her undershift, being dressed by Miss Lavinia Lyte. Johnny tells Isannah to put on some clothes. When she replies smartly, Johnny slaps her and the British soldiers gathered there, laugh. Miss Lavinia Lyte yells at Cilla for being incompetent and for bringing in such a riffraff of a boy. Johnny tells Cilla that she should not live in a house that treats her like a slave.
In the kitchen, Miss Bessie tells Johnny that when the Lytes move into their summer residence in Milton, the Sons of Liberty are going to tar and feather Merchant Lyte and run Miss Lavinia Lyte out of town. Johnny is surprised to hear that Miss Bessie is a long time Whig who has been helping Sam Adams.