Книга Perfume. The story of a murderer. Содержание - Eighteen

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-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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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, 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.


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 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 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 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 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 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.

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