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The Chronicles of Tonath Book 3
BY MARI COLLIER
Tonath is a planet in danger of being torn apart. Only one can inherit the knowledge to one day save the Tonathian people, and her name is Marika.
It’s been seventeen years since her father passed. Coming of age, she inherits a cattle hold, a trust account, and many gifts. One special gift is a chest, which comes with instructions that will guide her to the Bergman Mountains.
With a spaceship and the knowledge of three ancient civilizations, will she have time to access it all.. or will the Star Shifts hide the information, and drive her into the arms of her childhood love?
Chapter 2: Marika At Seventeen
“Marika, you are being unreasonable. You must talk with Mr. Vanderman. He wants to buy your hold now.”
“I cannot sell it now, Mama. I won’t be eighteen until next year.”
“You could sell it, give him a quit claim deed dated for next year, and turn the money over to me to enlarge The Haven. He or his son could run the Hold for one year just like Andy Trenton does now.” Venta had both hands on her hips and was glaring at her daughter.
“And what do Andy, Susan, Dickon, Phoebe, and Devlon do then, Mama? Where do they go?”
“Why back to Newton or wherever they want to go. They have made a good living off of us all these years.”
Disbelief flooded Marika’s eyes. “Mama, you know full well this year’s income is still to be divided between me, The Haven, and the Silver and Green Institute. We can’t cheat the Pathways like you want to do.”
“How dare you!” Venta was screaming at her daughter. Marika had grown and towered over Venta by at least eight inches. It was as though if she screamed loud enough it would intimidate Marika into obeying her. “I am not trying to cheat them. I am trying to get the best price for you. That is why Mr. Vanderman and his son David will be here this afternoon.”
“No, Mama, I am not meeting with them or selling to them. You don’t care about me. You just want the money for The Haven and for me to work here all my life. I don’t even know if I will want to sell the hold next year. I love that place. What if I want to live there instead of here?” With that Marika ran out the door and into the fresh spring air. She could hear Venta still yelling for her to come back. She stretched her long legs and ran out of the open gate.
“Come back here! We need to settle this now!” Venta’s voice faded away as Marika walked over to the fence and patted the nose of her horse, Ginger. The Teacher had allowed them more pasture land for two milk cows and a horse for a buggy and one for riding. In theory, the riding horse was for Venta, but she rarely rode anymore. She was the head of The Haven and it was preferable to ride in the buggy if it were necessary to go into Beltran for any reason.
Marika ran to the barn and grabbed the riding bridle for her horse. Then she went to the gate and opened it. Ginger, her riding horse, had ambled over in the hopes of a treat. Instead Marika slipped the bridle over the head, and fastened it before leading her out of the corral.
The Teacher had also permitted a barn to be built to hold the livestock in winter and for storing the hay after the harvest. The money from Marika’s hold had paid for building the barn and for the fencing. Marika had realized since she was ten that it was the hold money that allowed her mother to add any buildings and buy the two milk cows, plus the horse for pulling the buggy and one for her to hide. That was why her mother would go into a frenzy at the thought of losing that income or the money from selling the land and cattle. Marika hoisted herself up on Ginger. Like most women now, she did not bother with a side saddle. She could control Ginger better this way and she kicked her heels into the horse and they flew out across the prairie.
Marika rode until her hair had whipped into knots and her face was flushed. She stopped by the small stream of water still running down from the mountains and let Ginger snort and pull up some of the liquid. She slipped down and tied Ginger to one of the willow trees that had managed to reach a decent height and width as most of the willows along the banks remained small. She bent by the stream and splashed water onto her face.
She had spent the morning working in the garden and it was too late now to ride to the hold. That place seemed to hold the spell of peace and tranquility for the spirit. She knew it was more than just the workings of the hold or the home Susan Trenton had made; it was the entire aura of the place. The corrals, the two barns, a bunkhouse when extra hands were needed, and a small school located on the edge of the house yards. When she went there, she would stay in the small house for visitors rather than overnight with the Trenton’s. She disliked intruding in their family life. The main house was their home until such time as she choose to live there or sell it.
A few years ago, owning the hold and living there wasn’t even a possibility, but the Teacher had managed to convince enough people that the Contract of Dissolution law should be changed. Two years ago, the head of Mecham and his legislature degreed that women could inherit land, money, or buildings. They had changed the law concerning the Contract of Dissolution. Now the estate had to be evenly divided. Venta and Audrey Denning had thrown a party for those at the Haven. Marika did not understand why since Audrey had avoided the Contract of Dissolution and her mother had never wed. At first Venta had worried no more elderly women would arrive at The Haven. She was wrong. One or two had arrived every year.
Marika sat down to watch the ripples in the stream. Her mother refused to talk about her father. All questions were ignored or Venta would look at her and shake her head. “Men want your youth and your ability to have babies. They care nothing for you.”
“If that is true, why did my father leave me the hold?”
“He had no one else to will it to, that’s why.” Venta would reply and turn away.
Last time, however, Marika shouted at her. “He could have left it to you or to the Silver and Green Institute, but he didn’t. He left it to me. Maybe I should go ask the Teacher why.”
Venta had spun around. “Don’t you dare bother that busy man with such a request. He has no interest in us other than making sure The Haven succeeds.”
Marika looked out across the prairie and then upward and saw a hawk circle and dive. She wondered what was silly enough to be in broad daylight and saw the hawk whoomph down and rise again, this time a small prairie quail held by its talons. Poor baby, she thought. You never had a chance. The older, determined stalker was intent on winning. She shivered. Was that the way her mother was? Just like that hawk, was she determined to gain the prize? The sale and money for Marika’s hold was what she wanted and had wanted for the last two years.
Marika’s concentration switched. She heard cattle lowing and hooves. She hurried back to her horse, slipped the reins loose, and mounted. She was in time to see two yearlings stick their still horned heads through the high grass and amble straight for the stream.
Dickon Trenton appeared behind them and he waved his hat at her, replaced it on his head, and loosened his rope. He swung the noose out as the one yearling raised its head. The noose settled around the neck and he tied the rope off around his saddle horn and trotted over to her.
“Hullo, pretty Mistress Strauss. Are you heading toward the hold?” Hope was in his voice.
Marika smiled at him. Dickon was one year younger than she, but his shoulders were broader than most men’s, his face a handsome carved work of art, and his dark eyes always smiled at her.
Are your fans ready for this? I was born on a farm in Iowa. My parents had made the mattress that was on their bed. Oh, yes, it was covered with and oilcloth sheet. Allergies hit me when I was thirteen and made me so ill, a doctor advised Mama to take me home and die. Fortunately, she took me to Phoenix instead. I married my high school sweetheart. He decided to move to the Pacific Northwest. We found an acre outside of North Bend, WA. He became a contractor and I eventual went to work for Nintendo of America. They paid me to read, write, talk, and play games. When we retired, we moved to Twentynine Palms, California where our daughter and her children lived. He caught me “wool gathering” (my mother’s expression when I had stories running through my mind) and asked what I was doing. For some reason I explained the tale that had lived and grown in my mind since I was eleven. “Why don’t you go back to writing,” he asked. “I always enjoyed your stories.” I did start writing and this time it was the novel that became Gather The Children, Before We Leave, and the entire six books of The Chronicles of the Maca. Then my beloved husband died and I wrote the most violent book in the series, Man, True Man, to wash away the anger raging through me. Man, True Man was the beginning of The Tonath Chronicles series, and Marika is the third and probably the last in that series. I cannot say the same for the Chronicles of the Maca. I do docent at the Old Schoolhouse Museum and am the Curator for Accessions for the Twentynine Palms Historical Society.
Links to Mari’s website, blog, books, etc.
Purchase site: http://mybook.to/marika
Thanks, Mari, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!