Johnny Tremain Chapter 8, A World to Come
Late in August, Johnny witnesses the Lyte's ruby coach coming into Boston. The Lytes are chased out of their country house in Milton; they have come looking for British protection. Merchant Lyte looks ill, and Miss Lavania Lyte calls for Doctor Warren. Cilla tells Johnny that she must go back for the silver, which she forgot to bring. Johnny borrows Doctor Warren's horse and chaise. In Milton, Johnny finds the Lyte estate abandoned. In Merchant Lyte's room, Johnny picks up a leather-bound book full of confidential papers that Sam Adams might find useful. He also looks at the genealogy in the family bible that shows his parents crossed out. His father was a French naval surgeon, Charles Latour; Johnny discovers that he is Merchant Lyte's grandnephew. Johnny cuts out the pages. Cilla asks Johnny to take back his cup, but Johnny refuses. Although Johnny has many questions about his past, he decides that it is not important for his future. He burns the pages of the genealogy in the hearth fire. He is not going to dwell on the ghosts of his past.
Cilla is finished with keeping the house in order for when the Lytes come back. Johnny tells her that the Lytes will not come back. This is the end of one thing and the beginning of another.
"Each time a shutter groaned, protested, and then came to with a bang, it seemed to say, 'This is the end,' and the words echoed through the house: This is the end. This is the end." Chapter 8, pg. 165
On their way back, Johnny watches the Minute Men drilling, not in unison. Johnny prays that God help them because the British troops seem superior.
Rab still talks about getting a good musket. "A man can stand up to anything with a good weapon in his hands. Without it, he's but a dumb beast," Rab would say (pg. 167). Rab is so consumed with acquiring a gun that he sets up a meeting with a farmer to buy an illegal musket. It turns out to be a setup and the farmer and Rab are both caught. As punishment, the farmer is tarred, feathered, and paraded through the streets naked as a warning to others. The British soldiers go around to the anti-British newspapers, warning the editors that they will get the same if they continue in their treason. Rab is let go because he is just a boy. Bitter and a bit embarrassed, Rab tells Johnny that the British soldiers will make good targets.
Johnny learns from Cilla that Madge has run off to marry Sergeant Gale and that Mrs. Lapham has married Mr. Tweedie herself to keep him around. Cilla begins to talk about how a girl must marry someone whose name is fitting. She teases Johnny by saying that she would not marry Rab--Pricilla Silsbee is a poor name. Johnny is taken aback to find out Rab has been taking Cilla out and buying her sweets. Cilla continues, saying that Pricilla Tremain, on the other hand, would be a good name. Johnny realizes that this little girl he has always known, is now a young lady, and very pretty. He tells her that Pricilla Tremain is indeed a fine name. They stand together a bit embarrassed by the moment. Cilla picks up a green apple and gives it to Johnny. Johnny thinks his relationship with Cilla is like that apple; it might turn ripe or else, rot. Later, Rab eats the apple and Johnny gets angry. Rab adds that the apple was wormy.
That fall, Sam Adams tells Johnny that the Observers will meet for the last time, as war is near. Of the twenty-two original members, some have gone away for fear of arrest. At the meeting, they talk about setting up a better spy system to monitor the movement of British troops. Sam Adams and John Adams are to go to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia to determine what the colonies should do. Sam Adams lets it be known that he is going to ask for war. Just then, James Otis, who is thought to be losing his mind, climbs up the attic. Although the men know Otis has been talking nonsense of late, they afford him the courtesy to listen. Otis, once the most respected orator and the original founder of the Observers, casts a spell upon the men (except Sam Adams) with his speech--that this war is more than the freedom of Boston or of Americans, but of people everywhere. Otis ends:
"We give all we have, lives, property, safety, skills...we fight, we die, for a simple thing. Only that a man can stand up." Chapter 8, pg. 180
Then he is gone. Paul Revere responds by saying that he is fighting for the small, frightened child--his father, who fled his native France because of tyranny. That night, Johnny thinks about what James Otis said--so that a man can stand up.