While the indecisive customer hovered over an array of perfumes that Nettle had brought out for her, the American girls browsed among the shelves of perfumes, colognes, pomades, waxes, creams, soaps, and other items intended for beauty care. There were bath oils in stoppered crystal bottles, , and tins of herbal unguents, and tiny boxes of violet pastilles to freshen the breath. Lower shelves held treasure troves of scented candles and inks, sachets filled with clove-saturated smelling salts, potpourri bowls, and jars of pastes and balms. Nettle noticed, however, that while the younger girl, Daisy, viewed the assortment with only mild interest, the older one, Lillian, had stopped before a row of oils and extracts that contained pure scent. Rose, frangipani, jasmine, bergamot, and so forth. Lifting the amber glass bottles, she opened them carefully and inhaled with visible appreciation.
Eventually the blond woman made her choice, purchased a flacon of perfume, and left the shop, a small bell ringing cheerfully as the door closed.
Lillian, who had turned to glance at the departing woman, murmured thoughtfully, "I wonder why it is that so many light-haired women smell of amber..."
"You mean amber perfume?" Daisy asked.
"No- their skin itself. Amber, and sometimes honey..."
"What on earth do you mean?" the younger girl asked with a bemused laugh. "People don't smell like anything, except when they need to wash."
The pair regarded each other with what appeared to be mutual surprise. "Yes, they do," Lillian said. "Everyone has a smell... don't say you've never noticed? The way some people's skin is like bitter almond, or violet, while others..."
"Others have a scent like plum, or palm sap, or fresh hay," Nettle commented.
Lillian glanced at him with a satisfied smile. "Yes, exactly!"
Nettle removed his spectacles and polished them with care, while his mind swarmed with questions. Could it be? Was it possible that this girl could actually detect a person's intrinsic scent? He himself could- but it was a rare gift, and not one that he had ever known a woman to have.