He was sitting facing the bowl, and over it with her calm, confidential gaze was the figure of Lilith Whistler.
“Have I proved to you that perfume is the art of arts?” she demanded. He rushed from the room and was shaking the grilled gate in the hallway like a caged maniac, when with a pitying smile she released him. He reached the street at a bound....
* * * * *
... “the evil of perfume, I repeat, was one against which the venerable Fathers of the Church warned the faithful.” The preacher’s voice had sagged to a monotone. Baldur lifted his eyes in dismay. Near him sat the same woman, and she still stared at him as if to rebuke him for his abstraction. About her hovered the odour of iris. Had it been only a disturbing dream? Intoxicated by his escape from damnation, from the last of the Deadly Arts, he bowed his head in grateful prayer. What ecstasy to be once more in the arms of Mother Church! There, dipped in her lustral waters, and there alone would he find solace for his barren heart, pardon for his insane pride of intellect, and protection from the demons that waylaid his sluggish soul. The sermon ended as it began:—
“And the Seven Deadly Sins, beloved brethren, are: Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth. Oremus!”
“Amen,” fervently responded Baldur the Immoralist.
THE PURSE OF AHOLIBAH
this is that Aholibah
Whose name was blown among strange seas....
When the last breakfast guests had gone the waiters of the cafe began their most disagreeable daily task. All the silver was assembled on one of the long tables in an inner room, where, as at a solemn conclave, the servants took their seats, and, presided over by the major-domo of the establishment, they polished the knives and forks, spoons, and sugar-tongs, filled the salt-cellars, replenished the pepper-boxes and other paraphernalia of the dining art. The gabble in this close apartment was terrific. Joseph, the maitre d’hotel, rapped in vain a dozen times for silence. The chef poked his head of a truculent Gascon through the door and indulged in a war of wit with a long fellow from Marseilles,—called the “mast” because he was very tall and thin, and had cooked in the galley of a Mediterranean trading brig. From time to time one of the piccolos, a fat little boy from the South, carried in pitchers of flat beer, brewed in the suburbs. As it was a hot day, he was kept busy. The waiters had gone through a trying morning; there were many strangers in Paris. Outside, the Boulevard des Italiens, despite its shade trees, broiled under a torrid July sun that swam in a mercilessly blue sky.