As if distrusting his own constancy and the binding force of his promise to his sister, Manasseh had, with a few strokes of his pen, rendered harmless what could otherwise have been used as incriminating evidence against the forger. On entering the room, Manasseh detected a peculiar odour in the air. Benjamin Vajdar sat at the writing-desk, a morocco pocketbook open before him.
Then, as he leaned over, he saw beneath him Desiree's poultry-yard, black and steaming. He could not clearly distinguish the rabbit-hutches, the fowls' roosting-places, or the ducks' house. The place was all one big mass heaped up in stench, still exhaling in its sleep a pestiferous odour.
Then began the visits to acquaintances and strangers! And here is one point which must be noted: in making his calls he did not cringe and did not importune; but, on the contrary, he behaved himself in decorous fashion, and even wore a cheery and pleasant aspect, although an ingrained odour of liquor accompanied him everywhere and his Oriental costume was gradually reduced to rags.
Less than twenty-four hours ago, then, they had really been in it standing out there in the mud, surrounded by rats and the putrid odour of dead bodies, the prey not only of the elements, but of enemy bombs and shells, expecting the end at any instant; or curled up, half frozen in a humid, slimy dug-out, not long enough to permit stretching out scarcely deep enough to be called a shelter.
A spicy odour lingers in the heated air; it comes from the multitude of aromatic flowers that blossom in the early spring. Later on they will have withered and faded, and the corn will have been gathered, and the deep green of the eastern foliage will have assumed a kind of gray-bleached tint.
Economic problems, however, were powerless to worry her to-day, when the sun shone and the wind blew and the ferns, washed by the rill running through the culvert under the road, gave forth a delicious moist odour reminding her of the flower store where her sister Lise had once been employed.
Heaven grant that one of these days I may be able, as you are at Lusance, to inhale the sweet fresh odour of the country, and live in some little house all hidden among trees; and if this wish of mine be too ambitious on the part of an old man whose life is nearly closed, then I will only wish that my winding- sheet may be as sweetly scented with lavender as that linen you have on your arm."
He walked along the quays, and reached the trees of the Cours-la-Reine, then found himself breathing that air in which is mingled the freshness of watered roads and the odour of fine dust so characteristic of summer evenings in Paris. At that hour all was deserted. Here and there chandeliers were being lighted for the concerts, blazes of gaslight flared among the green trees.
It is evident that in his mode of depicting Gospel scenes this painter still exhales a breath of the Old Testament; his church, even if he had meant to paint it as it was in his day, would still be a synagogue, so strong is the odour of the Jew in all his work; he is possessed by the imagery, the prophecies, all the solemn and barbarous side of the East.
He nodded to the paragraphs of my narrative and at the end he poured something from a medicine bottle into a sticky little wineglass and drank it. I became aware of the presence of drugs, of three or four small bottles before him among his disorder of papers, of a faint elusively familiar odour in the room. "Yes," he said, wiping his lips and recorking the bottle. "You've done your best, George.