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

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And then all at once the lips of the dying boy opened, and in a voice whose clarity and firmness betrayed next to nothing of his immediate demise, he spoke. “Tell me, maftre, are there other ways to extract the scent from things besides pressing or distilling?”

Baldini, believing the voice had come either from his own imagination or from the next world, answered mechanically, “Yes, there are.”

“What are they?” came the question from the bed. And Baldini opened his tired eyes wide. Grenouille lay there motionless among his pillows. Had the corpse spoken?

“What are they?” came the renewed question, and this time Baldini noticed Grenouille’s lips move. It’s over now, he thought. This is the end, this is the madness of fever or the throes of death. And he stood up, went over to the bed, and bent down to the sick man. His eyes were open and he gazed up at Baldini with the same strange, lurking look that he had fixed on him at their first meeting.

“What are they?” he asked.

Baldini felt a pang in his heart-he could not deny a dying man his last wish-and he answered, “There are three other ways, my son: enfleurage it chaud, enfleurage a froid, and enfleurage a I’huile. They are superior to distillation in several ways, and they are used for extraction of the finest of all scents: jasmine, rose, and orange blossom.”

“Where?” asked Grenouille.

“In the south,” answered Baldini. “Above all, in the town of Grasse.”

“Good,” said Grenouille.

And with that he closed his eyes. Baldini raised himself up slowly. He was very depressed. He gathered up his notepaper, on which he had not written a single line, and blew out the candle. Day was dawning already. He was dead tired. One ought to have sent for a priest, he thought. Then he made a hasty sign of the cross with his right hand and left the room.

Grenouille was, however, anything but dead. He was only sleeping very soundly, deep in dreams, sucking fluids back into himself. The blisters were already beginning to dry out on his skin, the craters of pus had begun to drain, the wounds to close. Within a week he was well again.


HE WOULD HAVE loved then and there to have left for the south, where he could learn the new techniques the old man had told him about. But that was of course out of the question. He was after all only an apprentice, which was to say, a nobody. Strictly speaking, as Baldini explained to him-this was after he had overcome his initial joy at Grenouille’s resurrection-strictly speaking, he was less than a nobody, since a proper apprentice needed to be of faultless, i.e., legitimate, birth, to have relatives of like standing, and to have a certificate of indenture, all of which he lacked. Should he, Baldini, nevertheless decide one day to help him obtain his journeyman’s papers, that would happen only on the basis of Grenouille’s uncommon talents, his faultless behavior from then on, and his, Baldini’s, own infinite kindness, which, though it often had worked to his own disadvantage, he would forever be incapable of denying.

To be sure, it was a good while before he fulfilled his promised kindness-just a little under three years.

During that period and with Grenouille’s help, Baldini realized his high-flying dreams. He built his factory in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, succeeded in his scheme for exclusive perfumes at court, received a royal patent. His fine fragrances were sold as far off as St. Petersburg, as Palermo, as Copenhagen. A musk-impregnated item was much sought after even in Constantinople, where God knows they already had enough scents of their own. Baldini’s perfumes could be smelled both in elegant offices in the City of London and at the court in Parma, both in the royal castle at Warsaw and in the little Schloss of the Graf von und zu Lippe-Detmold. Having reconciled himself to living out his old age in bitterest poverty near Messina, Baldini was now at age seventy indisputably Europe’s greatest perfumer and one of the richest citizens of Paris.

Early in 1756-he had in the meantime acquired the adjoining building on the Pont-au-Change, using it solely as a residence, since the old building was literally stuffed full to the attic with scents and spices-he informed Grenouille that he was now willing to release him, but only on three conditions: first, he would not be allowed to produce in the future any of the perfumes now under Baldini’s roof, nor sell their formulas to third parties; second, he must leave Paris and not enter it again for as long as Baldini lived; and third, he was to keep the first two conditions absolutely secret. He was to swear to this by all the saints, by the poor soul of his mother, and on his own honor.

Grenouille, who neither had any honor nor believed in any saints or in the poor soul of his mother, swore it. He would have sworn to anything. He would have accepted any condition Baldini might propose, because he wanted those silly journeyman’s papers that would make it possible for him to live an inconspicuous life, to travel undisturbed, and to find a job. Everything else was unimportant to him. What kinds of conditions were those anyway! Not enter Paris again? What did he need Paris for! He knew it down to its last stinking cranny, he took it with him wherever he went, he had owned Paris for years now. -Not produce any of Baldini’s top-selling perfumes, not pass on their formulas? As if he could not invent a thousand others, just as good and better, if and when he wanted to! But he didn’t want to at all. He did not in the least intend to go into competition with Baldini or any other bourgeois perfumer. He was not out to make his fortune with his art; he didn’t even want to live from it if he could find another way to make a living. He wanted to empty himself of his innermost being, of nothing less than his innermost being, which he considered more wonderful than anything else the world had to offer. And thus Baldini’s conditions were no conditions at all for Grenouille.

He set out in spring, early one May morning. Baldini had given him a little rucksack, a second shirt, two pairs of stockings, a large sausage, a horse blanket, and twenty-five francs. That was far more than he was obligated to do, Baldini said, considering that Grenouille had not paid a sol in fees for the profound education he had received. He was obligated to pay two francs in severance, nothing more. But he could no more deny his own kindly nature than he could the deep sympathy for Jean-Baptiste that had accumulated in his heart over the years. He wished him good luck in his wanderings and once more warned him emphatically not to forget his oath. With that, he accompanied him to the servants’ entrance where he had once taken him in, and let him go.

He did not give him his hand-his sympathy did not reach quite that far. He had never shaken hands with him. He had always avoided so much as touching him, out of some kind of sanctimonious loathing, as if there were some danger that he could be infected or contaminated. He merely said a brief adieu. And Grenouille nodded and ducked away and was gone. The street was empty.

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