Excerpt of Perfume by Patrick Suskind
(Page 4 of 4)
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"But why, my good woman?" said Terrier, poking his finger in the basket again.
"He really is an adorable child. He's rosy pink, he doesn't cry, and he's been
"He's possessed by the devil."
Terrier quickly withdrew his finger from the basket.
"Impossible! It is absolutely impossible for an infant to be possessed by the
devil. An infant is not yet a human being; it is a prehuman being and does not
yet possess a fully developed soul. Which is why it is of no interest to the
devil. Can he talk already, perhaps? Does he twitch and jerk? Does he move
things about in the room? Does some evil stench come from him?"
"He doesn't smell at all," said the wet nurse.
"And there you have it! That is a clear sign. If he were possessed by the devil,
then he would have to stink."
And to soothe the wet nurse and to put his own courage to the test, Terrier
lifted the basket and held it up to his nose.
"I smell absolutely nothing out of the ordinary," he said after he had sniffed
for a while, "really nothing out of the ordinary. Though it does appear as if
there's an odor coming from his diapers." And he held out the basket to her so
that she could confirm his opinion.
Excerpted from Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Copyright © 2001 by Patrick Suskind. Excerpted by permission of Vintage, a
division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may
be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.