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:

  • First Published:
    Dec 2008, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2009, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"A great fish," Sergeant Gass said, drawing in the dirt with his toe. "Large as this hole in the woods." He traced the edge of their grassy swale with his musket.

"Not a fish," Clark said. "A great beast that lives in the sea."

"Beaver?"

With a shake of his head, Clark waved her off. Then he motioned to Gass. "I need a few men to go back with me to see this whale," he said, dressing and seizing his notebook. "The rest of you wait here."

Still naked and barely covered by the corner of Clark's blanket, Sacagawea stood up. "No. We will come to see the whale." She dropped the blanket and clenched her fists.

Clark shrugged. "You can see it later. It is nearly a day away."

She crossed her arms. "We will see it now. My son will see the creature, and the great ocean, now."

"You will do what you are told." He started off with his men.

"We will see the great whale."

She dressed quickly and drew the papoose onto her back.

Baptiste could feel his mother's excitement as her quick footsteps slashed in single-file through the forest, but in spite of his best efforts to stay awake, the bouncing lulled him to sleep. He woke to the sound of her hard breathing as she ran to the top of a hill. He heard shouts and alarms from the men. Then the Pacific started spilling in, blue.

On the beach, Clark paced the mammal at 105 feet. Purple and distended like a huge rotting plum, the monster was an endless galleon with clouds of gulls for sails. The great swollen corpse produced an unfathomable stench, its melting flesh actually bubbling with the incessant attentions of sand crabs. Far from alive, much of the behemoth was nothing so much as a skeletal, open-air cathedral of gothic proportions that death was building, the remnants of its tail drifting back and forth in the waves. As Clark continued his necropsy, Sergeant Gass walked inside the mammoth rib cage.

Toussaint Charbonneau mumbled something in French and made the sign of the cross.

"Look, I'm Jonah!" Gass called through the big hoops of the carcass while the ocean splashed at his feet. The others headed inside to see.

Baptiste, free from his mother, toddled to the wall of flesh still hanging from the leviathan and plucked something sharp from its side. He already had it to his mouth before Sacagawea could stop him.

"What have you got there, sonny?" Gass asked as the child drew near, now holding it in his fist. "Let's have a look." It was blue and sharp, a tiny spearpoint made of delicate, flinty stone. With its ripping ridges, it was designed for killing birds, not whales.

"I'll be darned," Gass said, turning it over and handing it back to Baptiste. "I wonder how many years the beast wore that bauble in his flesh. Make a nice present for your da-da."

Baptiste wobbled straight through the troops, waving the stone, and before Sacagawea could stop him, he held it up to Father Clark.

No one dared to laugh as Clark awkwardly accepted the token and Sacagawea strode forward three steps before stopping. Then, blushing and confused, she turned to Baptiste and slapped him hard.

The sting traveled across Baptiste's face, which began to throb with pain. He was confused and inconsolable, even when his mother wrapped him in her arms and kissed his head.

That night, as the fire turned to embers near the shelter where Baptiste and his mother lay, Meriwether Lewis approached Clark, who was absently turning the blue spearpoint in his hand.

"This has gone too far," Lewis said and fidgeted. "I wouldn't cross Toussaint. Even drunk, he can relieve a buffalo of its hide in three strokes."

"You know what she's done for us," Clark said. "She is under my protection."

"I'm telling you as your commander, keep your hands off her."

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!

One Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    by Bryn Greenwood
    Bryn Greenwood's debut, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, is a harsh, raw, and ultimately, truthful...
  • Book Jacket: Hot Milk
    Hot Milk
    by Deborah Levy
    When people reach their early 20s, they often choose to go abroad – they want to get away from...
  • Book Jacket: Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    by Joy Williams
    I have to preface this review by saying that I am not a fan of religious fiction - not even books ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Ashes of Fiery Weather
    by Kathleen Donohoe

    "Admirers of Pete Hamill and Kate Atkinson will appreciate this gripping novel." - Library Journal

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Underground Airlines
    by Ben Winters

    "The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate history thriller." - PW Star

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

An intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.