Excerpt from Museum of Human Beings by Colin Sargent, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Museum of Human Beings

By Colin Sargent

Museum of Human Beings
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Dec 2008,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Nov 2009,
    352 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"They did not take my true treasure, little one," she said in Shoshone, then crooned to him in a low voice. "I carry you on my back. With soft deerskin I lay you on a slab of bark cradled gently behind my shoulders so your head will be close to mine, and ever you will see what I see. We will walk as one. We crossed the mountains as one. The wind will warm our passage. We will always be together."

Feeling the delicious warmth of the blanket surround him, Baptiste drifted off to sleep, barely able to reflect that often one's pleasures come from another's pain.

"Well done, Janey!" Clark said in the only language at his command when they returned at dusk, his endearment, the common one used by soldiers to address female camp followers, defiling mother and child in a single sweep. He ruffled Baptiste's hair.

"Because of your mother's salesmanship, the Chinooks left us fresh horses and an elk. The devils will even help us build a fort, for the right price, of course."

Sacagawea turned away.

Misinterpreting her sorrow and pretending she understood enough to bask in his praise, he said, "Aw, I'm sick of all this weather, too. The only relief we have from the snow is the rain."

"We must hurry," Sacagawea told him haltingly in the English she was determined to learn. She knew after a day or so the trading would wear off and the braves could kill them with a clear conscience. She made her two fingers "walk" in the air stealthily and then an abrupt stabbing motion with her fist.

"It would serve us right," Clark laughed. Then he leaned down and kissed both Sacagawea and Baptiste on the lips. No one else was nearby. Sacagawea stared at Clark with a lost look.

"Compliments," she said softly, and draped the weasel tails around Clark's neck. Baptiste tried to reach out and touch the black-tipped pieces of fur, they looked so alive.

"They stink to hell!" Clark smiled.

Every time the explorer put his face near Baptiste's mother's it became difficult for the boy to breathe. The tip of Father Clark's enormous hairy ear covered his nose.

At nightfall, the discomfited Captain Lewis was ejected from the shelter to take his damp grass mat and retire elsewhere. Sacagawea looked shyly into Clark's eyes as he took off his leggings and leather breeches.

Clark took her and her papoose to his blanket. Trusting Baptiste was asleep under the wool, Sacagawea untied her deerskin shift and let it fall open. Blue islands around her ribs from Toussaint's regular beatings had now turned to yellow and nearly healed.

"EttsemiH," she told Clark, "close your eyes." She softly repeated "compliments" as he drew her onto his lap.



They awoke at dawn to a commotion outside the shelter. A cold, clear air hit the trio as Clark threw off the blanket. It was the advance party who'd been charged with scavenging for food, returning pell-mell to camp, shouting, cheering. They had seen Pacifica, and their eyes were lit by the sea.

"Done," Clark said to himself. "After twenty-six months, we've made it." Then, more loudly, "This calls for a toast!"

"Not everyone here needs a toast," Gass said, scrunching up his nose as Toussaint Charbonneau shuffled in.

"A bonus would be agriable," Charbonneau said, via Labiche. "To reward he who brought you here."

"The terms of your remuneration were agreed on long ago," Lewis said, backing up.

Charbonneau studied Lewis resentfully for a moment, then lumbered away.

"And there's a giant fish on the beach, Cap'n," York said, "as big as any ship I ever saw on the Potomac."

"A whale," Clark marveled. "How far away?"

"Maybe five, six miles, Cap'n."

"Is it alive?"

"I think I saw it move."

"What did he see?" Sacagawea asked shyly, tugging at Clark's sleeve.

Excerpted from Museum of Human Beings by Colin Sargent. Copyright © 2008 by Colin Sargent. Excerpted by permission of McBooks Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...
  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...
  • Book Jacket: Toms River
    Toms River
    by Dan Fagin
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

    In Toms River, investigative journalist Dan Fagin ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  170The Weight of Blood:
    Laura McHugh
  2.  143Happier at Home:
    Gretchen Rubin

All Discussions

Who Said...

When I get a little money I buy books...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.