Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo
First Part-Sieur Clubin
Book III. Durande and Deruchette.
IX. The Man Who Discovered Rantaine's Character.
AS long as Mess Lethierry had been able to do duty, he had commanded the Durande, and had had no other pilot or captain but himself; but a time had come, as we have said, when he had been compelled to find a successor. He had chosen for that purpose Sieur Clubin of Torteval, a taciturn man. Sieur Clubin had a character upon the coast for strict probity. He became the alter ego, the double of Mess Lethierry.
Sieur Clubin, although he had rather the look of a notary than of a sailor, was a mariner of rare skill. He had all the talents which are required to meet dangers of every kind. He was a skilful stower, a safe man aloft, an able and careful boatswain, a powerful steersman, an experienced pilot, and a bold captain. He was prudent, and he carried his prudence sometimes to the point of daring, which is a great quality at sea. His natural apprehensiveness of danger was tempered by a strong instinct of what was possible in an emergency. He was one of those mariners who will face risks to a point perfectly well known to themselves, and who generally manage to come successfully out of every peril. Every certainty which a man can command, dealing with so fickle an element as the sea, he possessed. Sieur Clubin, moreover, was a renowned swimmer; he was one of that race of men, broken into the buffeting of the waves, who can remain as long as they please in the water-who can start from the Havre-des-Pas at Jersey, double the Colettes, swim round the Hermitage and Castle Elizabeth, and return in two hours to the point from which they started. He came from Torteval, where he had the reputation of often having swum across the passage so much dreaded, from the Hanway rocks to the point of Pleinmont.
One circumstance which had recommended Sieur Clubin to Mess Lethierry more than any other was his having judged correctly the character of Rantaine. He had pointed out to Lethierry the dishonesty of the man, and had said, "Rantaine will rob you." His prediction was verified. More than once-in matters, it is true, not very important-Mess Lethierry had put his ever-scrupulous honesty to the proof; and he freely communicated with him on the subject of his affairs. Mess Lethierry used to say, "A good conscience expects to be treated with perfect confidence."