Grenouille comes across a small perfumer's workshop and asks for a job. The owner had died earlier that year but his widow, Madame Arnulfi, is managing the business mostly alone. After some hemming and hawing, she finally agrees to take him on and offers him a small salary and a small cabin in which to live. Madame Arnulfi calls in Druot, her first journeyman, and Grenouille smells that he spends a great deal of time in Madame's bed. A massive man, Druot looks Grenouille up and down and agrees to his hire.
The ease with which Grenouille finds work indicates that his disguise of normalcy is working, and he's successful in appearing competent but not threatening. Once again Grenouille is able to perceive hidden or secret things (like Druot’s affair with Madame Arnulfi) only through his nose.
The next day Grenouille begins work. It's the season for jonquil flowers. They're delivered every morning and dumped into melted pork lard and beef tallow, which Grenouille is tasked with stirring constantly. As the blossoms are stirred under, their scent becomes impregnated in the oil. While the work is very hard, Druot never helps stir. Grenouille is fascinated by the process and doesn't object to the arrangement.
The descriptions of how the scent is actually extracted from the flowers adds to the grotesque and sensuous quality of the novel, as do the descriptions of Grenouille's interpretation: it's a process of death and control.
When Druot decides the oil is saturated with scent, he and Grenouille pour the scent-laden pomade into stoneware crocks, and Madame Arnulfi comes to label and record the product. She then makes the rounds through the city, using her plight as a widow to garner sympathy and make sales. If she gets wind that there will be no future scarcity to use to her advantage, she instructs Druot to transform the pomade into an “essence absolue.” Turning the pomade into essence absolue entails a complicated process that yields only a few flacons of the finest flower oil, which is worth a fortune.
Madame Arnulfi is evidently a smart businesswoman, and very much in charge of her business decisions. Like Grenouille and his caregivers before, she uses her situation as a widow to her advantage and uses everyone, Druot and Grenouille included, to build her fortune and her success.