Burning incense often means that divine blessing is spread or that a place is being sanctified.
"Sancta Maria!" was being sung within. The fragrance of incense rolled out under the high, painted and gilded arch, where it was always twilight. This was the Church of the Madeleine.
Dressed in the most costly black, fashioned after the finest and newest modes, the ladies of the aristocracy glided over the polished floor. Crests sparkled from the clasps of magnificent prayerbooks bound in velvet and were embroidered on perfumed handkerchiefs bordered with costly Brussels lace. A few of the women knelt in silent prayer before the high altar; others went to the confessionals. The Dryad felt an uneasiness, a fear, as if she were in a place where she should not be. It was a house of silence, a great hall of mystery and secrecy. Everything was said in whispers or in silent trust.
Now the Dryad realized that she was wrapped in silk and a lace veil, like the ladies of wealth and noble birth. Was every one of them a child of desire and longing like herself?
A deep, painful sigh was heard; did it come from the confessional or from the bosom of the Dryad? She drew the veil more closely about her. She was breathing in incense fumes and not the fresh air. This was not the place she had long for.