Dart Valley Writers U3A




Hugh Treseder


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Storm Trevaskis was born in the early hours of a bitter February morning, in the middle of the great storm that took the life of her Father, Danny Hendra.  It was 1878, and he had been unable to save enough money to put a small engine in his fishing lugger so that when the mast broke, followed shortly by one of the oars, he was at the mercy of the sea.  Some wreckage was found amongst the rocks at the cove's entrance a few days later, but his body was never found.  The sea had claimed another young life, and Storm's Mother Annie kept a candle in her window every night for a month, and then quietly gave up all hope as so many women in the village had done before.

She had never married Danny, the families were estranged and there was no money anyway, so she gave Storm her surname.  The Minister said it was a judgement from the Lord that had caused Danny's death because they were not married.  He also said that Storm was a heathen name, and that no good would come to her that had been given it.  Danny's widowed Mother agreed with the Minister, and so did most of the women of the village.  Annie Trevaskis never spoke to Danny's Mother again; nor did she set foot in the Chapel ever again.  Storm was never baptised.  Later on when she was at the village school other children would taunt her as a heathen witch, and she grew up as a lonely but self-sufficient child who loved to walk alone along the cliff paths, and make up long stories in her head about the Father she had never known.

She had long red hair, pale skin and eyes that sometimes seemed green and sometimes blue, no-one could ever agree on the exact colour.  By the time she left school at fourteen she was becoming a beauty.  She was totally unaware of this, and kept herself aloof from the village boys who whistled and shouted after her as she went to and from her job at the fish market.  It was a surprise therefore, just after she turned eighteen, when a visiting artist from London, down exploring the far Southwest for interesting subjects to paint, offered her two guineas to sit for him in her working clothes by the inner harbour wall.  This was a fortune for sitting still, and she sat for him two hours every day for a week.

Back in London he used his sketches in various pictures that sold well and the word spread amongst his friends that here was a beautiful model in a picturesque village that artists could make money from.  The following summer several young men descended on the village, and Storm found herself much in demand as a model.  Soon she could give up her job in the fish market, and began saving a bit of money.  Other girls followed her lead, and began to ask her advice about what to wear, how to pose, and what to charge.  An artist's colony was born, and others began to enjoy the benefits by offering bed and breakfast, whilst the village pub took on extra staff.

One young artist, a handsome youth with a black beard and flashing eyes, began to monopolise Storm, and before long the inevitable happened and nature took its course.  Storm bore a son to him in August 1898 whom she called Danny, but in September the artist returned to London, never to come back. He did send her a small remittance four times a year for a few years, but that was all she ever heard, and even that came through a solicitor.  She gave baby Danny her own surname.  Life got harder as new and younger girls got the best modelling jobs, and the genre in any case began to fall out of fashion.  Storm went back to work gutting fish, but even that trade was declining as fish stocks fell.

Her son grew up much as she had, a bit of a loner in the village. As he grew older he got odd jobs around the harbour and on the boats, but could find no permanent work.  It was a relief then when in 1915 he was accepted into the Army, having lied a bit about his age.  He joined the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, who gave him a uniform, some heavy boots, three good meals a day, some money every week, and a bit of training.  He thrived on the life, and enjoyed being in a tented camp on Salisbury Plain for the training.  In July 1916 he found himself on the Somme, but when his battalion went over the top for the first time he had only got about fifty yards when a storm of machine gun fire cut him down into the mud which soon claimed him as the sea had claimed his Grandfather.

When his Mother got the telegram she said nothing to anyone, but pulled the curtains in her cottage, put on her black dress and sat alone for a very long time.  Then she went for a very long walk along the cliff path until the sun began to set over the sea.  She lived on until 1943 when another storm was howling around Europe, but she never saw the end of that.