Fragrance in Literature-Emile Gaboriau




Émile Gaboriau (November 9, 1832 - September 28, 1873), was a French writer, novelist, and journalist, and a pioneer of modern detective fiction.
Gaboriau was born in the small town of Saujon, Charente-Maritime. He became a secretary to Paul Féval, and after publishing some novels and miscellaneous writings, found his real gift in L'Affaire Lerouge (1866). The book, which was Gaboriau's first detective novel, introduced an amateur detective. It also introduced a young police officer named Monsieur Lecoq, who was the hero in three of Gaboriau's later detective novels. Monsieur Lecoq was based on a real-life thief turned police officer, Eugène François Vidocq (1775-1857), whose memoirs, Les Vrais Mémoires de Vidocq, mixed fiction and fact. It may also have been influenced by the villainous Monsieur Lecoq, one of the main protagonists of Féval's Les Habits Noirs book series. The book was published in the Pays and at once made his reputation. Gaboriau gained a huge following, but when Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes, Monsieur Lecoq's international fame declined. The story was produced on the stage in 1872. A long series of novels dealing with the annals of the police court followed, and proved very popular. Gaboriau died in Paris of pulmonary apoplexy.

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The Clique of Gold, by Emile Gaboriau

But it seemed as if nothing could turn him from this folly; he became daily younger and faster. He wore the most eccentric hats on one ear. He ordered his coats to be made in the very last fashion; and never went out without a camellia or a rosebud in his buttonhole. He no longer contented himself with dyeing his hair, but actually began to rouge, and used such strong perfumes, that one might have followed his track through the streets by the odors he diffused around him.

At all events, he continued in that icy tone which gives to sarcasm its greatest bitterness,—
"Besides, my dear Daniel, if you are ever introduced at Miss Brandon's,—and I pray you will believe me, people are not so easily introduced there,—you will be dumfounded at first by the tone that prevails in that house. The air is filled with a perfume of hypocrisy which would rejoice the stiffest of Quakers. Cant rules supreme there, putting a lock to the mouth, and a check to the eyes."

While saying this, he had pulled out his handkerchief, saturated with a strong perfume, and was wiping his forehead, though very gently, and with infinite precautions, so as not to spoil the artistic work of his valet.

Daniel took the letter, and for a minute or more examined the direction. The handwriting was a woman's, small and delicate, but in no ways like the long, angular hand of an American lady. At last he tore the envelope; and at once a penetrating but delicate perfume arose, which he had inhaled, he knew but too well, in Miss Brandon's rooms.

Her admirers had exaggerated nothing. In her white bridal costume she looked amazingly beautiful; and her whole person exhaled a perfume of innocence and ingenuous purity.

"Will you be so kind, sir, as to tell me a pawnbroker's shop?"
The man looked with pity at the young girl, whose whole person exhaled a perfume of distinction and of candor, asking himself, perhaps, what terrible misfortune could have reduced a lady like her to such a step; then he answered with a sigh,—
"There, madam, at the corner of the first street on the right, you will find a loan office."

Strange as it may seem, when the old gentleman touched these letters, impregnated with the peculiar perfume affected by Sarah Brandon, he trembled and turned pale. Immediately, however, perhaps in order to conceal his embarrassment, or to be the better able to reflect, he took a candlestick from the mantlepiece, and sat down aside, at one of the small tables. Mrs. Bertolle, Daniel, and Henrietta were silent; and nothing broke the stillness but the rustling of the paper, and the old gentleman's voice as he muttered,—
"This is fabulous,—Sarah writing such things! She did not even disguise her handwriting,—she who never committed an imprudence in her life; she ruins herself. And she signs her name!"

"For hours after he had left Sarah Brandon, Malgat had not recovered from the excitement; and he would have thought the whole a dream, but for the penetrating perfume which his clothes still retained where she had rested her beautiful head. But, when he at last began to examine his position, he came to the conclusion that he had indulged in childish illusions, and that he could never hope to satisfy the demands made by M. Elgin and Mrs. Brian. There was but one way, a single way, by which he could ever hope to obtain possession of this woman whom he worshipped; and that was the one she had herself proposed,—an abduction. To determine upon such a step, however, was for Malgat to end his peaceful life forever, to lose his place, to abandon the past, and to venture upon an unknown future. But how could he reason at a moment when his whole mind was filled with thoughts of the most amazing happiness that ever was enjoyed by mortal being?

Miss Sarah led Daniel to a small boudoir adjoining her own room. Nothing could be fresher and more coquettish than this little room, which looked almost like a greenhouse, so completely was it filled with rare and fragrant flowers, while the door and window-frames were overgrown with luxuriant creepers. In the windows stood large vases filled with flowers; and the light bamboo chairs were covered with the same bright silk with which the walls were hung. If the great reception-room reflected the character of Mrs. Brian, this charming boudoir represented Miss Brandon's own exquisite taste.

A clerk whom he asked told him that the president was in his rooms,—in the third story on the left. He went up. The maid who came to open the door recognized him. It was the same Clarissa who had betrayed him. When he asked for the count she invited him in. She took him through an anteroom, dark, and fragrant with odors from the kitchen; and then, opening a door, she said;—
"Please walk in!"

Then there came an account of petroleum or oil wells, in which it was clearly demonstrated that this admirable product represented, in comparison with other oils, a saving of more than sixty per cent; that it gave a light of matchless purity and brilliancy; that it burnt without odor; and, above all, that, in spite of what might have been said by interested persons, there was no possible danger of explosion connected with its use.

The old lady having taken the lamp, after removing the screen, opened a door which led from the parlor directly into a small, modestly furnished room, which shone with exquisite tidiness, and which exhaled that fresh odor of lavender so dear to all housekeepers from the country. The mirrors and the furniture all glistened alike in the bright fire on the hearth; and the curtains were as white as snow.