Книга Perfume. The story of a murderer. Содержание - Twenty-seven

Now he could rest awhile in good conscience. He stretched out-to the extent his body fit within the narrow stony quarters. Deep inside, however, on the cleanly swept mats of his soul, he stretched out comfortably to the fullest and dozed away, letting delicate scents play about his nose: a spicy gust, for instance, as if borne here from springtime meadows; a mild May wind wafting through the first green leaves of beech; a sea breeze, with the bitterness of salted almonds. It was late afternoon when he arose— something like late afternoon, for naturally there was no afternoon or forenoon or evening or morning, there was neither light nor darkness, nor were there spring meadows nor green beech leaves… there were no real things at all in Grenouille’s innermost universe, only the odors of things. (Which is why the fafon deparler speaks of that universe as a landscape; an adequate expression, to be sure, but the only possible one, since our language is of no use when it comes to describing the smellable world.) It was, then, late afternoon: that is, a condition and a moment within Grenouille’s soul such as reigns over the south when the siesta is done and the paralysis of midday slowly recedes and life’s urge begins again after such constraint. The heat kindled by rage-the enemy of sublime scents-had fled, the pack of demons was annihilated. The fields within him lay soft and burnished beneath the lascivious peace of his awakening -and they waited for the will of their lord to come upon them.

And Grenouille rose up-as noted-and shook the sleep from his limbs. He stood up, the great innermost Grenouille. Like a giant he planted himself, in all his glory and grandeur, splendid to look upon-damn shame that no one saw him!-and looked about him, proud and majestic.

Yes! This was his empire! The incomparable Empire of Grenouille! Created and ruled over by him, the incomparable Grenouille, laid waste by him if he so chose and then raised up again, made boundless by him and defended with a flaming sword against every intruder. Here there was naught but his will, the will of the great, splendid, incomparable Grenouille. And now that the evil stench of the past had been swept away, he desired that his empire be fragrant. And with mighty strides he passed across the fallow fields and sowed fragrance of all kinds, wastefully here, sparingly there, in plantations of endless dimension and in small, intimate parcels, strewing seeds by the fistful or tucking them in one by one in selected spots. To the farthermost regions of his empire, Grenouille the Great, the frantic gardener, hurried, and soon there was not a cranny left into which he had not thrown a seed of fragrance.

And when he saw that it was good and that the whole earth was saturated with his divine Grenouille seeds, then Grenouille the Great let descend a shower of rectified spirit, soft and steady, and everywhere and overall the seed began to germinate and sprout, bringing forth shoots to gladden his heart. On the plantations it rolled in luxurious waves, and in the hidden gardens the stems stood full with sap. The blossoms all but exploded from their buds.

Then Grenouille the Great commanded the rain to stop. And it was so. And he sent the gentle sun of his smile upon the land; whereupon, to a bud, the hosts of blossoms unfolded their glory, from one end of his empire unto the other, creating a single rainbowed carpet woven from myriad precious capsules of fragrance. And Grenouille the Great saw that it was good, very, very good. And he caused the wind of his breath to blow across the land. And the blossoms, thus caressed, spilled over with scent and intermingled their teeming scents into one constantly changing scent that in all its variety was nevertheless merged into the odor of universal homage to Him, Grenouille the Great, the Incomparable, the Magnificent, who, enthroned upon his gold-scented cloud, sniffed his breath back in again, and the sweet savor of the sacrifice was pleasing unto him. And he deigned to bless his creation several times over, from whom came thanksgiving with songs of praise and rejoicing and yet further outpourings of glorious fragrance. Meanwhile evening was come, and the scents spilled over still and united with the blue of night to form ever more fantastic airs. A veritable gala of scent awaited, with one gigantic burst of fragrant diamond-studded fireworks.

Grenouille the Great, however, had tired a little and yawned and spoke: “Behold, I have done a great thing, and I am well pleased. But as with all the works once finished, it begins to bore me. I shall withdraw, and to crown this strenuous day I shall allow myself yet one more small delectation in the chambers of my heart.”

So spoke Grenouille the Great and, while the peasantry of scent danced and celebrated beneath him, he glided with wide-stretched wings down from his golden clouds, across the nocturnal fields of his soul, and home to his heart.


RETURNING home was pleasant! The double role of avenger and creator of worlds was not a little taxing, and then to be celebrated afterwards for hours on end by one’s own offspring was not the perfect way to relax either. Weary of the duties of divine creator and official host, Grenouille the Great longed for some small domestic bliss.

His heart was a purple castle. It lay in a rock-strewn desert, concealed by dunes, surrounded by a marshy oasis, and set behind stone walls. It could be reached only from the air. It had a thousand private rooms and a thousand underground chambers and a thousand elegant salons, among them one with a purple sofa when Grenouille-no longer Grenouille the Great, but only the quite private Grenouille, or simply dear little Jean-Baptiste-would recover from the labors of the day.

The castle’s private rooms, however, were shelved from floor to ceiling, and on those shelves were all the odors that Grenouille had collected in the course of his life, several million of them. And in the castle’s cellars the best scents of his life were stored in casks.

When properly aged, they were drawn off into bottles that lay in miles of damp, cool corridors and were arranged by vintage and estate. There were so many that they could not all be drunk in a single lifetime.

Once dear little Jean-Baptiste had finally returned chez soi, lying on his simple, cozy sofa in his purple salon-his boots finally pulled off, so to speak-he clapped his hands and called his servants, who were invisible, intangible, inaudible, and above all inodorous, and thus totally imaginary servants, and ordered them to go to the private rooms and get this or that volume from the great library of odors and to the cellars to fetch something for him to drink. The imaginary servants hurried off, and Grenouille’s stomach cramped in tormented expectation. He suddenly felt like a drunkard who is afraid that the shot of brandy he has ordered at the bar will, for some reason or other, be denied him. What if the cellar or the library were suddenly empty, if the wine in the casks had gone sour? Why were they keeping him waiting? Why did they not come? He needed the stuff now, he needed it desperately, he was addicted, he would die on the spot if he did not get it.

Calm yourself, Jean-Baptiste! Calm yourself, my friend! They’re coming, they’re coming, they’re bringing what you crave. The servants are winging their way here with it. They are carrying the book of odors on an invisible tray, and in their white-gloved, invisible hands they are carrying those precious bottles, they set them down, ever so carefully, they bow, and they disappear.

And then, left alone, at last-once again!-left alone, Jean-Baptiste reaches for the odors he craves, opens the first bottle, pours a glass full to the rim, puts it to his lips, and drinks. Drinks the glass of cool scent down in one draft, and it is luscious. It is so refreshingly good that dear Jean-Baptiste’s eyes fill with tears of bliss, and he immediately pours himself a second glass: a scent from the year 1752, sniffed up in spring, before sunrise on the Pont-Roya!, his nose directed to the west, from where a light breeze bore the blended odors of sea and forest and a touch of the tarry smell of the barges tied up at the bank. It was the scent from the end of his first night spent roaming about Paris without GrimaPs permission. It was the fresh odor of the approaching day, of the first daybreak that he had ever known in freedom. That odor had been the pledge of freedom. It had been the pledge of a different life. The odor of that morning was for Grenouille the odor of hope. He guarded it carefully. And he drank of it daily.

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