7 страница

his shirttail. One, two steps back-and the clumsy way he

hunched his body together under Baldini’s tirade sent

enough waves rolling out into the room to spread the

newly created scent in all directions. Nothing more was

needed. True, Baldini ranted on, railed and cursed, but

with every breath his outward show of rage found less

and less inner nourishment. He sensed he had been

proved wrong, which was why his peroration could only

soar to empty pathos. And when he fell silent, had been

silent for a good while, he had no need of Grenouille’s

remark: “It’s all done.” He knew that already.

But nevertheless 7 страница, although in the meantime air

heavy with Amor and Psyche was undulating all about

him, he stepped up to the old oak table to make his

test. He pulled a fresh snowy white lace handkerchief

from his coat pocket, the left one, unfolded it and

sprinkled it with a few drops that he extracted from the

mixing bottle with the long pipette. He waved the

handkerchief with outstretched arm to aerate it and

then pulled it past his nose with the delicate, well-

practiced motion, soaking up its scent. Letting it out

again in little puffs, he sat down on a stool. Where

before his face had been bright red 7 страница with erupting

anger, all at once he had grown pale. “Incredible,” he

murmured softly to himself, “by God- incredible.” And

he pressed the handkerchief to his nose again and again

and sniffed and shook his head and muttered,

“Incredible.” It was Amor and Psyche, beyond the

shadow of a doubt Amor and Psyche, that despicable,

ingenious blend of scents, so exactly copied that not

even Pelissier himself would have been able to

distinguish it from his own product. “Incredible...”

Small and ashen, the great Baldini sat on his stool,

looking ridiculous with handkerchief in hand, pressing it

to his nose like an old maid with the sniffles. By 7 страница now he

was totally speechless. He didn’t even say “incredible”

anymore, but nodding gently and staring at the contents

of the mixing bottle, could only let out a monotone

“Hmm, hrnm, hmm... hmm, hmm, hmm... hmm, hmm,

hmm.” After a while, Gre-nouille approached, stepping

up to the table soundlessly as a shadow.

“It’s not a good perfume,” he said. “It’s been put

together very bad, this perfume has.”

“Hmm, hmm, hmm,” said Baldini, and Grenouille

continued, “If you’ll let me, maitre, I’ll make it better.

Give me a minute and I’ll make a proper perfume out of

it!”

“Hmm 7 страница, hmm, hmm,” said Baldini and nodded. Not in

consent, but because he was in such a helplessly

apathetic condition that he would have said “hmm,

hmm, hmm,” and nodded to anything. And he went on

nodding and murmuring “hmm, hmm, hmm,” and made

no effort to interfere as Grenouille began to mix away a

second time, pouring the alcohol from the demijohn

into the mixing bottle a second time (right on top of the

perfume already in it), tipping the contents of flacons a

second time in apparently random order and quantity

into the funnel. Only at the end of the procedure-

Grenouille did not shake the 7 страница bottle this time, but

swirled it about gently like a brandy glass, perhaps in

deference to Baldini’s delicacy, perhaps because the

contents seemed more precious to him this time-only

then, as the liquid whirled about in the bottle, did

Baldini awaken from his numbed state and stand up, the

handkerchief still pressed to his nose, of course, as if he

were arming himself against yet another attack upon his

most private self.

“It’s all done, maitre,” Grenouille said. “Now it’s a

really good scent.”

“Yes, yes, fine, fine,” Baldini replied and waved him

off with his free hand.

“Don’t you want to test it?” Grenouille 7 страница gurgled on.

“Don’t you want to, maitre? Aren’t you going to test it?”

“Later. I’m not in the mood to test it at the

moment... have other things on my mind. Go now!

Come on!”

And he picked up one of the candlesticks and passed

through the door into the shop. Grenouille followed

him. They entered the narrow hallway that led to the

servants’ entrance. The old man shuffled up to the

doorway, pulled back the bolt, and opened the door. He

stepped aside to let the lad out.

“Can’t I come to work for you, maitre, can’t 7 страница I?”

Grenouille asked, standing on the threshold, hunched

over again, the lurking look returning to his eye.

“I don’t know,” said Baldini. “I shall think about it.

Go.”

And then Grenouille had vanished, gone in a split

second, swallowed up by the darkness. Baldini stood

there and stared into the night. In his right hand he held

the candlestick, in his left the handkerchief, like

someone with a nosebleed, but in fact he was simply

frightened. He quickly bolted the door. Then he took

the protective handkerchief from his face, shoved it

into his pocket, and walked back through the shop to

his laboratory.

The scent was so 7 страница heavenly fine that tears welled into

Baldini’s eyes. He did not have to test it, he simply

stood at the table in front of the mixing bottle and

breathed. The perfume was glorious. It was to Amor and

Psyche as a symphony is to the scratching of a lonely

violin. And it was more. Baldini closed his eyes and

watched as the most sublime memories were awakened

within him. He saw himself as a young man walking



through the evening gardens of Naples; he saw himself

lying in the arms of a woman with dark curly hair and

saw the silhouette of a bouquet of roses on 7 страница the

windowsill as the night wind passed by; he heard the

random song of birds and the distant music from a

harbor tavern; he heard whisperings at his ear, he

heard I-love-you and felt his hair ruffle with bliss, now!

now at this very moment! He forced open his eyes and

groaned with pleasure. This perfume was not like any

perfume known before. It was not a scent that made

things smell better, not some sachet, some toiletry. It

was something completely new, capable of creating a

whole world, a magical, rich world, and in an instant

you forgot all the loathsomeness around you and felt so

rich, so 7 страница at ease, so free, so fine....

The hairs that had ruffled up on Baldini’s arm fell

back again, and a befuddling peace took possession of

his soul. He picked up the leather, the goat leather lying

at the table’s edge, and a knife, and trimmed away.

Then he laid the pieces in the glass basin and poured the

new perfume over them. He fixed a pane of glass over

the basin, divided the rest of the perfume between two

small bottles, applied labels to them, and wrote the

words Nuit Napolitaine on them. Then he extinguished

the candles and left.

Once upstairs, he 7 страница said nothing to his wife while they

ate. Above all, he said nothing about the solemn

decision he had arrived at that afternoon. And his wife

said nothing either, for she noticed that he was in good

spirits, and that was enough for her. Nor did he walk

over to Notre-Dame to thank God for his strength of

character. Indeed, that night he forgot, for the first

time ever, to say his evening prayers.

Sixteen

THE NEXT MORNING he went straight to Grimal.

First he paid for his goat leather, paid in full, without a

grumble or the least bit of haggling. And then he invited

Grimal to the 7 страница Tour d’Argent for a bottle of white wine

and negotiations concerning the purchase of Grenouille,

his apprentice. It goes without saying that he did not

reveal to him the why’s and wherefore’s of this

purchase. He told some story about how he had a large

order for scented leather and to fill it he needed

unskilled help. He required a lad of few needs, who

would do simple tasks, cutting leather and so forth. He

ordered another bottle of wine and offered twenty

livres as recompense for the inconvenience the loss of

Grenouille would cause Grimal. Twenty livres was an

enormous sum. Grimal immediately took 7 страница him up on it.

They walked to the tannery, where, strangely enough,

Grenouille was waiting with his bundle already packed.

Baldini paid the twenty livres and took him along at

once, well aware that he had just made the best deal of

his life.

Grimal, who for his part was convinced that he had

just made the best deal of his life, returned to the Tour

d’Argent, there drank two more bottles of wine, moved

over to the Lion d’Or on the other bank around noon,

and got so rip-roaring drunk there that when he decided

to go back to the Tour d’Argent late 7 страница that night, he got

the rue Geoffroi L’Anier confused with the rue des

Nonaindieres, and instead of coming out directly onto

the Pont-Marie as he had intended, he was brought by ill

fortune to the Quai des Ormes, where he splashed

lengthwise and face first into the water like a soft

mattress. He was dead in an instant. The river,

however, needed considerable time to drag him out

from the shallows, past the barges moored there, into

the stronger main current, and not until the early

morning hours did Grimal the tanner-or, better, his

soaked carcass-float briskly downriver toward the west.

As 7 страница he passed the Pont-au-Change, soundlessly,

without bumping against the bridge piers, sixty feet

directly overhead Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was going to

bed. A bunk had been set up for him in a back corner of

Baldini’s laboratory, and he was now about to take

possession of it-while his former employer floated down

the cold Seine, all four limbs extended. Grenouille rolled

himself up into a little ball like a tick. As he fell off to

sleep, he sank deeper and deeper into himself, leading

the triumphant entry into his innermost fortress, where

he dreamed of an odoriferous victory banquet, a

gigantic orgy with clouds of 7 страница incense and fogs of myrrh,

held in his own honor.

Seventeen

WITH THE acquisition of Grenouille, the House of

Giuseppe Baidini began its ascent to national, indeed

European renown. The Persian chimes never stopped

ringing, the herons never stopped spewing in the shop

on the Pont-au-Change.

The very first evening, Grenouille had to prepare a

large demijohn full of Nuit Napolitaine, of which over

eighty flacons were sold in the course of the next day.

The fame of the scent spread like wildfire. Chenier’s

eyes grew glassy from the moneys paid and his back

ached from all the deep bows he had to make, for only

persons of high 7 страница, indeed highest, rank-or at least the

servants of persons of high and highest rank- appeared.

One day the door was flung back so hard it rattled; in

stepped the footman of Count d’Argenson and shouted,

as only footmen can shout, that he wanted five bottles

of this new scent. Chenier was still shaking with awe

fifteen minutes later, for Count d’Argenson was

commissary and war minister to His Majesty and the

most powerful man in Paris.

While Chenier was subjected to the onslaught of

customers in the shop, Baidini had shut himself up in his

laboratory with his new apprentice. He justified this

state of 7 страница affairs to Chenier with a fantastic theory that

he called “division of labor and increased productivity.”

For years, he explained, he had patiently watched while

Pelissier and his ilk-despisers of the ancient craft, all-

had enticed his customers away and made a shambles of

his business. His forbearance was now at an end. He was

accepting their challenge and striking back at these

cheeky parvenus, and, what was more, with their own

weapons. Every season, every month, if necessary every

week, he would play trumps, a new perfume. And what

perfumes they would be! He would draw fully upon his

creative talents. And for 7 страница that it was necessary that he-

assisted only by an unskilled helper-would be solely and

exclusively responsible for the production of scents,

while Chenier would devote himself exclusively to their

sale. By using such modern methods, they would open a

new chapter in the history of perfumery, sweeping

aside their competitors and growing incomparably rich-

yes, he had consciously and explicitly said “they,”

because he intended to allow his old and trusted

journeyman to share a given percentage of these

incomparable riches.

Only a few days before, Chenier would have

regarded such talk as a sign of his master’s incipient

senility. “Ready for the Charite,” he would 7 страница have

thought. “It won’t be long now before he lays down the

pestle for good.” But now he was not thinking at all. He

didn’t get around to it, he simply had too much to do.

He had so much to do that come evening he was so

exhausted he could hardly empty out the cashbox and

siphon off his cut. Not in his wildest dreams would he

have doubted that things were not on the up and up,

though Baldini emerged from his laboratory almost daily

with some new scent.

And what scents they were! Not just perfumes of

high, indeed highest, quality 7 страница, but also cremes and

powders, soaps, hair tonics, toilet waters, oils....

Everything meant to have a fragrance now smelled new

and different and more wonderful than ever before. And

as if bewitched, the public pounced upon everything,

absolutely everything-even the newfangled scented hair

ribbons that Baldini created one day on a curious whim.

And price was no object. Everything that Baldini

produced was a success. And the successes were so

overwhelming that Chenier accepted them as natural

phenomena and did not seek out their cause. That

perhaps the new apprentice, that awkward gnome, who

was housed like a dog in the laboratory and whom one

saw sometimes when 7 страница the master stepped out, standing

in the background wiping off glasses and cleaning

mortars-that this cipher of a man might be implicated in

the fabulous blossoming of their business, Chenier would

not have believed had he been told it.

Naturally, the gnome had everything to do with it.

Everything Baldini brought into the shop and left for

Chenier to sell was only a fraction of what Grenouille

was mixing up behind closed doors. Baldini couldn’t

smell fast enough to keep up with him. At times he was

truly tormented by having to choose among the glories

that Grenouille produced. This sorcerer’s apprentice

could have provided recipes 7 страница for all the perfumers of

France without once repeating himself, without once

producing something of inferior or even average quality.

As a matter of fact, he could not have provided them

with recipes, i.e., formulas, for at first Grenouille still

composed his scents in the totally chaotic and

unprofessional manner familiar to Baldini, mixing his

ingredients impromptu and in apparent wild confusion.

Unable to control the crazy business, but hoping at least

to get some notion of it, Baldini demanded one day that

Grenouille use scales, measuring glasses, and the pipette

when preparing his mixtures, even though he

considered them unnecessary; further, he was to get

used to 7 страница regarding the alcohol not as another fragrance,

but as a solvent to be added at the end; and, for God’s

sake, he would simply have to go about things more

slowly, at an easier and slower pace, as befitted a

craftsman.

Grenouille did it. And for the first time Baldini was

able to follow and document the individual maneuvers

of this wizard. Paper and pen in hand, constantly urging

a slower pace, he sat next to Grenouille and jotted

down how many drams of this, how many level

measures of that, how many drops of some other

ingredient wandered into the mixing bottles. This was a

curious after 7 страница-the-fact method for analyzing a procedure;

it employed principles whose very absence ought to

have totally precluded the procedure to begin with. But

by employing this method, Baldini finally managed to

obtain such synthetic formulas. How it was that

Grenouille could mix his perfumes without the formulas

was still a puzzle, or better, a miracle, to Baldini, but at

least he had captured this miracle in a formula,

satisfying in part his thirst for rules and order and

preventing the total collapse of his perfumer’s universe.

In due time he ferreted out the recipes for all the

perfumes Grenouille had thus far invented, and finally

he forbade him to 7 страница create new scents unless he, Baldini,

was present with pen and paper to observe the process

with Argus eyes and to document it step by step. In his

fastidious, prickly hand, he copied his notes, soon

consisting of dozens of formulas, into two different little

books-one he locked in his fireproof safe and the other

he always carried with him, even sleeping with it at

night. That reassured him. For now, should he wish, he

could himself perform Gre-nouille’s miracles, which had

on first encounter so profoundly shaken him. He

believed that by collecting these written formulas, he

could exorcise the terrible creative chaos erupting from

his 7 страница apprentice. Also the fact that he no longer merely

stood there staring stupidly, but was able to participate

in the creative process by observing and recording it,

had a soothing effect on Baldini and strengthened his

self-confidence. After a while he even came to believe

that he made a not insignificant contribution to the

success of these sublime scents. And when he had once

entered them in his little books and entrusted them to

his safe and his bosom, he no longer doubted that they

were now his and his alone.

But Grenouille, too, profited from the disciplined

procedures Baldini had forced upon him. He was not

dependent 7 страница on them himself. He never had to look up an

old formula to reconstruct a perfume weeks or months

later, for he never forgot an odor. But by using the

obligatory measuring glasses and scales, he learned the

language of perfumery, and he sensed instinctively that

the knowledge of this language could be of service to

him. After a few weeks Grenouille had mastered not

only the names of all the odors in Baldini’s laboratory,

but he was also able to record the formulas for his

perfumes on his own and, vice versa, to convert other

people’s formulas and instructions into perfumes and

other scented 7 страница products. And not merely that! Once he

had learned to express his fragrant ideas in drops and

drams, he no longer even needed the intermediate step

of experimentation. When Baldini assigned him a new

scent, whether for a handkerchief cologne, a sachet, or

a face paint, Grenouille no longer reached for flacons

and powders, but instead simply sat himself down at the

table and wrote the formula straight out. He had learned

to extend the journey from his mental notion of a scent

to the finished perfume by way of writing down the

formula. For him it was a detour. In the world’s eyes-

that is, in 7 страница Baldini’s-it was progress. Grenouille’s miracles

remained the same. But the recipes he now supplied

along with therii removed the terror, and that was for

the best. The more Grenouille mastered the tricks and

tools of the trade, the better he was able to express

himself in the conventional language of perfumery-and

the less his master feared and suspected him. While still

regarding him as a person with exceptional olfactory

gifts, Baldini no longer considered him a second

Frangipani or, worse, some weird wizard-and that was

fine with Grenouille. The regulations of the craft

functioned as a welcome disguise. He virtually lulled

Baldini to sleep with his exemplary procedures,

weighing 7 страница ingredients, swirling the mixing bottles,

sprinkling the test handkerchief. He could shake it out

almost as delicately, pass it beneath his nose almost as

elegantly as his master. And from time to time, at well-

spaced intervals, he would make mistakes that could not

fail to capture Baldini’s notice: forgetting to filter,

setting the scales wrong, fixing the percentage of

ambergris tincture in the formula ridiculously high. And

took his scoldings for the mistakes, correcting them

then most conscientiously. Thus he managed to lull

Baldini into the illusion that ultimately this was all

perfectly normal. He was not out to cheat the old man

after 7 страница all. He truly wanted to learn from him. Not how to

mix perfumes, not how to compose a scent correctly,

not that of course! In that sphere, there was no one in

the world who could have taught him anything, nor

would the ingredients available in Baldini’s shop have

even begun to suffice for his notions about how to

realize a truly great perfume. The scents he could

create at Baldini’s were playthings compared with those

he carried within him and that he intended to create

one day. But for that, he knew, two indispensable

prerequisites must be met. The first was the cloak of

middle-class respectability 7 страница, the status of a journeyman

at the least, under the protection of which he could

indulge his true passions and follow his true goals

unimpeded. The second was the knowledge of the craft

itself, the way in which scents were produced, isolated,

concentrated, preserved, and thus first made available

for higher ends. For Grenouille did indeed possess the

best nose in the world, both analytical and visionary,

but he did not yet have the ability to make those scents

realities.

Eighteen

AND SO HE gladly let himself be instructed in the

arts of making soap from lard, sewing gloves of chamois,

mixing powders from wheat flour 7 страница and almond bran and

pulverized violet roots. Rolled scented candles made of

charcoal, saltpeter, and sandalwood chips. Pressed

Oriental pastilles of myrrh, benzoin, and powdered

amber. Kneaded frankincense, shellac, vetiver, and

cinnamon into balls of incense. Sifted and spatulated

poudre impermle out of crushed rose petals, lavender

flowers, cascarilla bark. Stirred face paints, whites and

vein blues, and molded greasy sticks of carmine for the

lips. Banqueted on the finest fingernail dusts and minty-

tasting tooth powders. Mixed liquids for curling periwigs

and wart drops for corns, bleaches to remove freckles

from the complexion and nightshade extract for the

eyes, Spanish fly for the gentlemen and hygienic

vinegars for the ladies.... Grenouille learned to 7 страница produce

all such eauxand powders, toilet and beauty

preparations, plus teas and herbal blends, liqueurs,

marinades, and such-in short, he learned, with no

particular interest but without complaint and with

success, everything that Baldini knew to teach him from

his great store of traditional lore.

He was an especially eager pupil, however,

whenever Baldini instructed him in the production of

tinctures, extracts, and essences. He was indefatigable

when it came to crushing bitter almond seeds in the

screw press or mashing musk pods or mincing dollops of

gray, greasy ambergris with a chopping knife or grating

violet roots and digesting the shavings in the finest

alcohol. He learned how to 7 страница use a separatory funnel that

could draw off the purest oil of crushed lemon rinds

from the milky dregs. He learned to dry herbs and

flowers on grates placed in warm, shady spots and to

preserve what was once rustling foliage in wax-sealed

crocks and caskets. He learned the art of rinsing

pomades and producing, filtering, concentrating,

clarifying, and rectifying infusions.

To be sure, Baldini’s laboratory was not a proper

place for fabricating floral or herbal oils on a grand

scale. It would have been hard to find sufficient

quantities of fresh plants in Paris for that. But from time

to time, when they could 7 страница get cheap, fresh rosemary,

sage, mint, or anise seeds at the market, or a shipment

of valerian roots, caraway seeds, nutmegs, or dried

clove blossoms had come in, then the alchemist in

Baldini would stir, and he would bring out the large

alembic, a copper distilling vessel, atop it a head for

condensing liquids-a so-called moor’s head alembic, he

proudly announced-which he had used forty years

before for distilling lavender out on the open southern

exposures of Liguria’s slopes and on the heights of the

Luberon. And while Grenouille chopped up what was to

be distilled, Baldini hectically bustled about heating a

brick-lined hearth- because 7 страница speed was the alpha and

omega of this procedure-and placed on it a copper

kettle, the bottom well covered with water. He threw

in the minced plants, quickly closed off the double-

walled moor’s head, and connected two hoses to allow

water to pass in and out. This clever mechanism for

cooling the water, he explained, was something he had

added on later, since out in the field, of course, one

had simply used bellowed air for cooling. And then he

blew on the fire.

Slowly the kettle came to a boil. And after a while,

the distillate started to flow out of the moor 7 страница’s head’s

third tap into a Florentine flask that Baldini had set

below it-at first hesitantly, drop by drop, then in a

threadlike stream. It looked rather unimpressive to

begin with, like some thin, murky soup. Bit by bit,

however-especially after the first flask had been

replaced with a second and set aside to settle-the brew

separated into two different liquids: below, the floral or

herbal fluid; above, a thick floating layer of oil. If one

carefully poured off the fluid-which had only the

lightest aroma-through the lower spout of the Florentine

flask, the pure oil was left behind-the essence, the

heavily 7 страница scented principle of the plant.

Grenouille was fascinated by the process. If ever

anything in his life had kindled his enthusiasm- granted,

not a visible enthusiasm but a hidden one, an

excitement burning with a cold flame-then it was this

procedure for using fire, water, steam, and a cunning

apparatus to snatch the scented soul from matter. That

scented soul, that ethereal oil, was in fact the best

thing about matter, the only reason for his interest in it.

The rest of the stupid stuff-the blossoms, leaves, rind,

fruit, color, beauty, vitality, and all those other useless

qualities-were of no concern to him. They 7 страница were mere

husk and ballast, to be disposed of.

From time to time, when the distillate had grown

watery and clear, they took the alembic from the fire,


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