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Excerpt from Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

by Sarah Bird

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird X
Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2018, 416 pages
    Feb 2020, 544 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Valerie Morales
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Print Excerpt

"Begging the general's pardon, sir," the colonel went on. "I hate to mention it, sir, but your staff's head cook did requisition a helper, sir."

"Solomon needs a helper?"

"Yessir. Cook's helper, General. For the officers' mess, sir."

"What happened to…? You know." The General circled his hand in the air, urging the name to come forth. "Fat wench. Front teeth knocked out. You know."

"Betsy?" the colonel supplied. "Betsy died of the bloody flux."

The General shook his head and sighed with annoyed regret. "It's what I have always maintained, the Almighty did not fashion woman for the life of a warrior. All right, Terrill, requisition a cook's helper. But I will have no more ______ females serving my staff, do you hear me?"

"Yessir, sir, General, sir. Couldn't agree more, sir. No females, sir."

"Don't want to ______ see them. Won't ______ have them dying around me. The rigors of battle require a man's strong constitution. What is needed is a darkie buck. Stout, husky one with the constitution of a ______ mule."

From atop his fine steed, Sheridan appraised us, his finger twitching back and forth as he passed over first one slumped specimen quivering before him then the next: Auntie Cherry, who was too blind and crippled up to do anything except stick a finger in a baby's mouth when she cried from hunger. Hettie, who, though still strong and able, was eliminated since she was not only female, but also convinced that she was still back in Georgie eating crowder peas, the result of Old Mister laying into her with a singletree yoke several years back. Old Amos, though technically a man, still didn't make the cut as his fingers were knotted up like a corkscrew willow to where he couldn't hold a chopping knife right. Even Maynard, a near-grown man-boy, who believed he should have been made overseer instead of Mama, did not capture the General's fancy.

Then Sheridan's eye fastened on me for, as had become our habit since Old Mister's blood went bad from the spider bite and Mama was made overseer, I was wearing britches and in no wise gave off the look of a female. I felt Mama stiffen at seeing me being included in all this mule talk and her fury jumped into me like a spark off a fuse.

Being treated like beasts at auction didn't bother the rest of them. They were all slouched over and beat-down-looking, trying not to attract attention. They didn't know whether these white Yankee men wanted to free us so they could roast us on spits like the preacher and our masters told us they planned on doing, or if liberation really was at hand. It hardly mattered, though, for we all knew that, one way or the other, long as whites were running the show, it'd be bad for us. So I couldn't fault them for keeping their heads down and waiting for this latest misfortune to blow over.

But in the months Mama had been running the show, me and her had lost the habit of being sized up like broodmares and we both bristled. Iyaiya had drilled it into Mama never to show weakness before your enemy and Mama had passed that rule on to me. Since any and every white man, no matter what color uniform he wore, was Mama's enemy, she drew herself up tall and proud and locked eyes with this general.

In the gaze that passed between them it was clear that Sheridan saw who was before him because puzzlement clouded his expression as two things he had never put together before collided in his head: warrior and woman. He shook his head and moved on to the last candidate, me.

"That one!" He pointed at me. "The tall one there! Splendid specimen."

I brightened. It was hard to hate someone who called you "splendid."

"He'll do," he pronounced. Then General Philip Sheridan spoke directly to me for the first time. "You there," he said. "You won't die on me, will you, boy?"

Excerpted from Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird. Copyright © 2018 by Sarah Bird. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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