The Place of The Seven Cotton Trees – Pt. One

Read Time: 5 Mins | Historical Fiction | Romance | Drama | Part One

My father says I have the temperament of a bull elephant who has lost the love of his life. I have never quite understood what he meant, for I am neither the size of a bull nor do I look like a man. My diminutive figure, slender frame with the tensile strength of Chinese porcelain, and long curly locks that caress the back of my thighs, hint at quite the opposite. I will admit that the language which occasionally escapes my lips, is at times more acquainted with that of the dockside workers who frequented the mission outpost. They would come seeking a meal or sometimes a place to lay their heads, and conversations were had that were unsavory in the presence of a lady. But that was perhaps the only betrayal of my otherwise angelic smile and cherub face that were always on full display as I performed my duties. Okay, perhaps I tell a small falsehood, and may the Lord forgive me. I do possess a fiery temper and do speak words which would make an angel blush from time to time, but they are perhaps no worse than what the beloved Peter uttered on many a night of unsuccessful fishing… before he met the Lord Jesus that is.

“Vanesa Laura?” The accent bordered on Catalonian. I had become quite adept at deciphering the idiosyncrasies of the people who frequented the gates of the monastery. This was the sound of a child though, and his reference to my full name, very much like my father would whisper in frustrated exasperation prior to a scolding, triggered an impolite memory.

“Who may I say is asking?” I turned to face the voice. He was no more than ten years old, a face etched with the grimace of a difficult childhood, yet he had eyes that still held a boyish exuberance that said he could run with wild horses. He wore stained clothing and smelled overwhelmingly of cheap perfume. I had seen him before, a run-about for the house of sin near the Port of Cadiz.

“It is you, is it not?” He waved a letter with his right hand and held out his left for a reward.

I reached for a peso, but his eager disapproval, which was accompanied by several grunts said monetary compensation was not what he desired.

“What would you like, young man?”

He rolled his eyes and rubbed his stomach. A hungry belly is often the best teacher of men. It helps them get their priorities properly aligned. I offered him the remaining three loaves in the basket and his eyes beamed.

“Gracias Senora Laura.” His smile would brighten the darkest of rooms.

“It is Sister Laura, and you are quite welcomed young man. What is your name?”

“The men at the dock call me Vasco. Like the sailor.”


“The ladies at the…’ he hesitated then corrected himself… ‘several women have said that I pout like him. I do not know who he is, and they pay me well, so it does not matter to me.” He bowed his eyes. Even a child understands the shame of being acquainted with such work.

“Is this letter from Senor Carlos?”

“Yes, Sister Laura. May I go now?”

“Go straight on home. It is not safe to be walking around these parts with a basket of bread, Vasco.”

He bounded away before I could even finish my sentence.

The letter was crudely folded… hurriedly perhaps. Senor Carlos was no scholar, so someone else would have written the letter for him.

“Your father sends greetings and a warning. Do not return to Patagonia. The Rio De La Plata is no longer your home. Your parents and your sisters have fled to the Indies, to do the Lord’s work among the natives on the island of Trinidad. Your uncle Hernandarias faces a growing uprising back home, so they have fled. I have been tasked with ensuring your safe passage to the Indies. You are no longer safe here in Spain.


My uncle, Hernando Arias de Saavedra, the Governor of Rio De La Plata, was having a challenging time governing the small community. I had not been there since I was a child. Patagonia was my home. It was my family’s home. If my parents were forced to flee, it meant that things had taken a turn for the worse. In two months, I would be finished with my schooling, then I would be free to join them. I felt the growing knot in my stomach. The happiness I had felt mere moments ago, watching Vasco leap away, was slowly being drowned and suffocated with feelings of doom. Who would wish to hurt my father? No doubt this information was at least six to eight weeks old. My father had regularly communicated via Carlos for the last five years that I had been here. His gifts and messages were always a welcome and pleasant surprise. This was not pleasant in the least.

I bit my lip, whispering a short prayer as I did so. God would have to hasten my departure, for if two months were already an agonizing wait to see my parents and siblings prior to this news, it was now untenable to linger for even another day. The bell in the tower bellowed, a deafening clamor which was unwelcomed in my heightened state of anxiety. Water, I needed water.

“Coming to prayers Sister Laura?” Someone shouted.

“I have said my prayers already…” I looked around to see Margarita, the newest addition to our mission outpost, eagerly chasing the diminishing sound of the bell to the chapel. Her feet, skipping above the cobbled stones of the street, were too dainty for these parts. I whispered her name to finish the sentence, as she was now out of earshot, and my thoughts had floundered their way out of the mist of indecision. I had already made up my mind that I would be leaving Cadiz as soon as it was possible.

To be Continued…

15 responses to “The Place of The Seven Cotton Trees – Pt. One”

  1. I have the feeling this is gonna be an intriguing series Nigel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s gonna be a long one… And yes, hopefully engaging and intriguing. Haven’t tried romance before. So fingers crossed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A amazing beginning to the story Nigel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you John. Work in progress, to test my capabilities. Hope you it keeps readers engaged. Happy weekend sir.


  3. I think Sister Laura has a precarious journey ahead! Good episode!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh sweet Lord, it’s gonna be one helluva ride for her. Absolutely correct Priscilla.. 🙏 stay tuned. And thanks for dropping in. 💙💙

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I hope to get more of this story soon. You seem to enjoy writing about strong female MC’s. Would be nice to have a Q&A session with you one day. Just to hear from the author. Thank you for keeping us glued to our tablets Nigel/Jerome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Carol.. I sometimes write under my pen name, all depends on the client. But lately I’ve just been writing under Nigel. The name my mama gave me lol.
      I do enjoy writing about string female leads… I have 5 sisters who are just titans. Feel free to ask any questions.. and I’ll probably do a QnA soon. Promise I’d make time for it. For now just use the contact me page, and I’ll compare and do a post this week.








  8. Very well written! I love the beginning of this story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you, Dawn. Working on this weeks’ episode today.

      Liked by 1 person

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