The Lost Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini
"This here's Ashworth land. See that pretty woman with the shawl? That's my wife. The little one next to her, that's your mama."
Joanna's heart leaped. She shaded her eyes with her hands and studied the distant figure, but she was too far away to see the woman's face clearly. "And my daddy?" she asked the groom eagerly. "Is my daddy out there, too?"
The groom regarded her incredulously. "Girl, your daddy's Marse Ashworth. Everybody knows that. " He chuckled and shook the reins, urging the horses to resume a faster pace.
His eyebrows rose. "Ruthie? That won't do. Let's say instead ...Calpurnia. The wife of Caesar." He turned to his wife. "This one must be above reproach, isn't that so, dear?"
The mistress smiled, so he must have made a joke, although Joanna didn't find anything amusing. "Perhaps it's a bit much for such a little one," the mistress replied demurely.
"Something simpler, then. Julianna? No. Julia."
Just in time, Joanna remembered not to protest. She held herself motionless, while the master dipped his pen, turned the pages of his ledger, and wrote, "Julia, quadroon female. Sired on Joanna by Titus. Value twenty dollars."
"You may go, Joanna, " said the mistress before the ink dried.
"Titus isn't coming with us, " said Miss Evangeline, shaking her head, brow furrowing. " My husband already has a groom. Even if my husband had dozens of horses and no one to tend them, I can't imagine my father would part with Titus. My father relies upon him too dearly."
A sudden roaring filled Joanna's ears. She gripped the edge of the bureau for support. "My baby," she said. "I can bring Ruthie, right, miss?"
Miss Evangeline fixed her with a cool, flinty stare that confirmed Joanna's worst fears.