In his study, Baldini removes his coat. He knows better than Chénier that inspiration won't strike, as it never has before. The narrator likens Baldini to a competent cook who makes great dishes, but has come up with no recipes of his own. Baldini isn't an inventor and doesn't want to be, as he doesn't like inventions because inventing means breaking rules.
Baldini's respect for rules and regulations is made very clear from the start, setting him up as a figure standing for “convention” and order, in contrast to the wild creative genius of Grenouille.
Rather than create a new perfume for the count, Baldini intends to copy Pélissier's Amor and Psyche. Baldini thinks of how awful it is that he, an honest man, must do something so crooked in order to keep such an important client. Most of his clients have ceased purchasing products from him, and he's only surviving by selling door-to-door.
While Baldini sees Pélissier as a rival and inferior, he also can't help trying to copy Pélissier’s perfume. We see how important this copy is, as Baldini's business is failing and his success depends on it.
Baldini attributes his fall to Pélissier's reckless creativity, which leaves Baldini unable to keep up with demands each season. Baldini wishes for the strict old guild laws, which would punish Pélissier, who isn't even a trained perfumer. Baldini continues his mental rant and considers the history of perfume, where originally a perfumer had to be fluent in Latin and able to perform many different tasks related to the creation of perfume and cosmetics. However, once it was discovered how to bind scent to alcohol, the craft began to slip from the grasp of masters and into the hands of anyone, like Pélissier.
The social anxieties of the times intersect with the characters here, as Baldini is nervous that anyone can experience success now that a social system exists through which individuals can climb and become successful. The guild laws, which once would've protected Baldini, no longer exist. This setup is important to remember when Baldini meets Grenouille, as Grenouille will turn Baldini's thoughts here upside down.
Baldini laments the changing times, where speed is of the essence. He asserts that man doesn't want to stay where man belongs, which causes all sorts of trouble. Baldini also laments the rise of scientific papers that posit that God maybe didn't even create the world, among other things—women are reading books now, and the king himself is interested in such nonsense.
Baldini expands his anxieties to encompass the entirety of man's current lot in life, where women and the king himself are not only interested in these advancements, but have access to them. While education is still quite elite and exclusive, it's significantly more accessible than before.
Baldini stands at the window and regards the river below. The narrator states that Baldini made a mistake buying a house on this side of the bridge, as the river appears to flow away from him, carrying his wealth with it. Sometimes, Baldini crosses one of the bridges with no buildings and looks up the river, imagining that the river is carrying prosperity towards him.
Baldini sees the river as a metaphor for his life. Baldini's relationship to the river will be important going forward, as the river will both be a source of distress and a source of fortune and inspiration.