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What Paul Saw

Grade 8 | Narrative | Text-Dependent


Learning Standards


You have read an excerpt from the novel, Johnny Tremain. The  excerpt was written from Johnny Tremain’s point of view. Rewrite  the encounter from Paul Revere’s point of view. Describe the same encounter in your narrative, but from Paul’s point of view. 


Johnny Tremain: A Story of Boston in Revolt

Chapter II: The Pride of Your Power

by Esther Forbes



THE WEEK wore on, each day as hot as the one before, for it was July. Every day after dinner Mr. Lapham took a long nap under his basket snoring as gently as he did everything else. 

Johnny would let him sleep for an hour, then wake him up, scold him, and get him to work. His work was beautiful. The body of the sugar basin was quickly completed and he began repousséing on it the rich garlands of fruit with the same skill he had had forty years before.

Johnny’s own work did not satisfy him as well. He had exactly enlarged the handle in his wax model. Mrs. Lapham and the girls, even Mr. Lapham, said it was fine, and he could go ahead and cast it in silver. It was only Johnny himself who was dissatisfied.

Friday evening, when the light was failing and work over, Johnny took the silver pitcher and his own wax model and left the shop. He was in Fish Street, in a minute stopping outside the silver shop of Paul Re-vere. He didn’t dare knock, but he knew that any moment now the silversmith would be closing his shop, leaving for his dwelling in near-by North Square. He was so prosperous a smith that he did not live and work in the same place.

So at last he saw Mr. Revere, a stocky, ruddy man, with fine, dark eyes, shutting his shop, taking out his key preparing to lock up.

“Good evening, Mr. Revere.” The man smiled with a quick flash of white teeth. He had a quick smile and a quick face and body.

“Good evening, Johnny Tremain.” The boy had long admired Mr.Revere as the best craftsman in Boston. He had no idea Mr. Revere knew his name. He did not know all the master silversmiths had an eye on him.

“Mr. Revere, I’d like to talk with you.”

“Man to man,” Mr. Revere agreed, opening his shop door, motioning Johnny to follow him. 


Johnny’s eyes flew about the shop, taking in the fine anvils, the hood upon the annealing furnace., the neat nests of crucibles. It was just such a shop he would himself have when he was man-grown. Not much like Mr. Lapham’s.

Although Paul Revere was as busy a man as there was in all Boston, he took everything so easily in his stride (doing the one thing after another) that he never seemed rushed, so now, because an apprentice stopped him on the street and said he wanted to talk to him, he appeared to have all the time in the world.

“Sir,” said Johnny, “it’s a matter of handles.” He took the silver pitcher out of the cloth he had wrapped it in and his own wax model and explained Mr. Hancock’s order.

“So you want to talk to me as a silversmith to silversmith, do you?” He had Johnny’s wax model in his hands - delicate hands to go with such heavy wrists. “What does your master say of your work?”

“Mr. Lapham won’t even look at it much. But he says it’s good enough and I can go ahead and cast tomorrow. I’ve got to cast tomorrow because it’s Saturday and we can’t work Sunday, and it must be done Monday at seven. Although my master thinks it’s all right, I’m not sure. “

“He is wrong and you are right. Look, you’ve just copied the handle on the pitcher too slavishly - just enlarged it. Don’t you see that your winged woman looks coarse in comparison? I’d have the figures the same size on both pieces - fill in with a scroll. Then, too, your curve is wrong. The basin is so much bigger you cannot use the same curve. Yours looks hunched up and awkward. It’s all a matter of proportion.” He took up a piece of paper and a pencil and drew off what he meant with one sure sweep of his hand. “I’d use a curve more like that - see? This is what I meant when I said I’d add a scroll or two below the figure of the winged woman - not just enlarge her so she looks like a Boston fishwife in comparison to the angel on the pitcher. See?”


“I see. “

The man looked at him a little curiously.

“There was a time,” he said, “when your own master could have shown you that.”

“Mr. Lapham is . .. well . . . he’s feeble.”

“Not doing very much work these days?”

“Not what you’d call much.” Johnny felt on the defensive. “Not much fine hollow ware. Plenty of buck-les, spoons, and such.”

“How many boys?”

“Three of us, sir.”


“I’d hardly think he’d need three. Now, if he wants to cut down, you tell him from me that I’ll buy your unexpired time. I think between us we could make some fine things - you and I.”

The boy flushed. To think the great Paul Revere wanted him!

“Tell your master I’ll pay a bit more than is usual for you. Don’t let him shunt one of those other boys off on me.”

He stood up. It was time for Johnny to go.

“I couldn’t leave the Laphams, sir” he said as he thanked Mr. Revere.

“If it wasn’t for me, nothing would ever get done. They’d just about starve.”

“I see. You’re right, of course. But if the old gentleman dies or you ever want a new master, remember my offer. So . . . “ and he turned to shake hands; “may we meet again.”

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15:45, 26 Apr 2016


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