Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo
First Part-Sieur Clubin
Book III. Durande and Deruchette.
VII. The Same Godfather and the Same Patron Saint.
HAVING created his steamboat, Lethierry had christened it: he had called it Durande-"La Durande." We will speak of her henceforth by no other name; we will claim the liberty, also, in spite of typographical usage, of not italicising this name Durande; conforming in this to the notion of Mess Lethierry, in whose eyes La Durande was almost a living person.
Durande and Deruchette are the same name. Deruchette is the diminutive.
This diminutive is very common in France.
In the country the names of saints are endowed with all these diminutives as well as all their augmentatives. One might suppose there were several persons when there is, in fact, only one. This system of patrons and patronesses under different names is by no means rare. Lise, Lisette, Lisa, Elisa, Isabelle, Lisbeth, Betsy, all these are simply Elizabeth. It is probable that Mahout, Maclou, Malo, and Magloire are the same saint: this, however, we do not vouch for.
Saint Durande is a saint of l'Angoumois, and of the Charente; whether she is an orthodox member of the calendar is a question for the Bollandists: orthodox or not she has been made the patron saint of numerous chapels.
It was while Lethierry was a young sailor at Rochefort that he had made the acquaintance of this saint, probably in the person of some pretty Charantaise, perhaps in that of the grisette with the white nails. The saint had remained sufficiently in his memory for him to give the name to the two things which he loved most-Durande to the steamboat, Deruchette to the girl.
Of one he was the father, of the other the uncle.
Deruchette was the daughter of a brother who had died: she was an orphan child; he had adopted her, and had taken the place both of father and mother.
Deruchette was not only his niece, she was his godchild; he had held her in his arms at the baptismal font; it was he who had chosen her patron saint, Durande and her Christian name, Deruchette.
Deruchette, as we have said, was born at St. Peter's Port. Her name was inscribed at its date on the register of the parish.
As long as the niece was child, and the uncle poor, nobody took heed of her appellation of Deruchette; but when the little girl became a miss, and the sailor a gentleman, the name of Deruchette shocked the feelings of Guernsey society. The uncouthness of the sound astonished every one. Folks asked Mess Lethierry "why Deruchette?" He answered, "It is a very good name in its way." Several attempts were made to get him to obtain a change in the baptismal name, but he would be no party to them. One day, a fine lady of the upper circle of society in St. Sampson, the wife of a rich retired iron-founder, said to Mess Lethierry, "In future I shall call your daughter Nancy."
"If names of country towns are in fashion," said he, "why not Lons le Saulnier?" The fine lady did not yield her point, and on the morrow said, "We are determined not to have it Deruchette; I have found for your daughter a pretty name-Marianne," "A very pretty name indeed," replied Mess Lethierry, "composed of two words which signify-a husband and an ass."2 He held fast to Dertuchette.
It would be a mistake to infer from Lethierry's pun that he had no wish to see his niece married. He desired to see her married certainly, but in his own way; he intended her to have a husband after his own heart, one who would work hard, and whose wife would have little to do. He liked rough hands in a man, and delicate ones in a woman. To prevent Deruchette spoiling her pretty hands he had always brought her up like a young lady, he had provided her with a music-master, a piano, a little library, and a few needles and threads in a pretty work-basket. She was, indeed, more often reading than stitching; more often playing than reading. This was as Mess Lethierry wished it. To be charming was all that he expected of her. He had reared the young girl like a flower. Whoever has studied the character of sailors will understand this; rude and hard is their nature, they have an odd partiality for grace and delicacy. To realise the idea of the uncle, the niece, ought to have been rich; so indeed felt Mess Lethierry. His steamboat voyaged for this end. The mission of Durande was to provide a marriage portion for Deruchette.