I know I have been remiss at revealing everything in the book--I hope you caught it. I don't think I will have the opportunity to revisit anything unless there are specific questions. In this installment, I will show you extensive scene setting in the narrative. First, I will show you enough description of the interior of the house to allow your own imagination to take over the rest. There is a critical balance in not showing too much--that overburdens the reader and chokes the storyline. And too little--that leaves the reader adrift without an appropriately set scene. Note, the characters too. Here I introduce two important secondary characters. They must have their own descriptions.
They made their way up the marble steps up to the large front door. The servant opened the great oaken portal and let them in.
They entered a wonderful and huge marble and statue lined entry that overlooked an enormous open ballroom. They stood in an unenclosed foyer bordered before them by a wide set of stairs that led down to the floor of the ballroom. On the other side of the ballroom, twin wooden stairways led to the second floor. The stairways climbed into each other and joined then separated again and continued to the upper floor.
When Aksinya, Natalya, Asmodeus, and the servant entered, a host of maids descended on them. They took Aksinya’s coat and Natalya’s cloak. Aksinya then spotted a very well dressed man and a woman who had descended, unnoticed, to the center of the house’s converging stairways. Asmodeus stepped forward and called in a loud voice, “May I announce, the Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna and her lady-in-waiting, the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska.”
The man and woman made their way slowly down the steps. The moment Aksinya’s coat had come off, she began to shiver. She had not eaten, and she was cold. She wondered automatically if the demon had anything to do with her sudden discomfort. He turned to her that moment and grinned. Aksinya scowled back at him. She impatiently watched her uncle and aunt make their way to them. She certainly would not move. She was too cold, and she knew how these things worked. She had lived in this type of society all her life. It was a painful reminder of the life she left when her family died.
Her uncle and aunt finally made their way to the ballroom floor and stepped slowly across the ballroom. They made their way to the wide foyer steps and then up them. Her uncle stood before her and grasped her hand. His face was thin and well lined. Still, it seemed as jovial as Aksinya remembered it. She always thought he endeavored to convey a haughty appearance of aristocracy, but that attempt was constantly overwhelmed by his gentle features. He sported a wide mustache and a pointed beard. He put the unnecessary monocle in his left eye this time. He routinely forgot which eye was supposed to require it. This evening, he wore a fine woolen suit with coat and tails. He went to his left knee and touched her white-gloved hand with his lips. He spoke in German, “Countess, I am your uncle, Freiherr Herman Bockmann, and this is your aunt, the Freifrau Brunhilda Bockmann. I hope you remember us. I welcome you to our home.” He stood and Aksinya’s aunt stepped forward. Aksinya had remembered her name was Brunhilda. She always thought that was so funny when she was a child. Freifrau Bockmann was tall and stout. She had a well endowed bosom and clothing that was just a little too small for her. Aksinya remembered her mother’s words about Aunt Brunhilda, “That her sister-in-law was always one season and one size out of style.” Aksinya couldn’t help but smile at the remembrance. Indeed, Aunt Brunhilda wore a silk dress of a bright summer hue. Yet, she wore it with grace. Aunt Brunhilda looked well in anything.
Aunt Brunhilda took her hand and curtsied to the floor, “Welcome, Countess.” She glanced up and smiled, “I am so glad you came to us.”
Did you notice the revelation (or perhaps a remembrance) of some of Aksinya's past. This little revelation ties Aksinya into the scene and bridges the relationship with her aunt and uncle.
Next the description of the Bockmanns. I give you a little paradox in each. First, I introduce Freiherr Bockman. He is not a caricature of an Austrian Nobleman. I tell you he is a Freiherr (not a Baron), that puts your thinking outside the normal box. Next, he is described as attempting to be the caricature of an Austrian Nobleman--we knew that from before in the dialog of the demon. Second, Freifrau Bockmann is described as wearing too tight clothing that is out of style, but still she appears elegant. These small paradoxes force you to see the characters as more than simply stereotyped nobles. They also force you to think about the characters. This locks them in your brain. I can then remind you in later scenes and reset your thinking to let you see them as the characters they are.
Next, did you notice how the demon is manipulating Aksinya. He brought her in an open carriage (likely from manipulation of her uncle or a suggestion in the telegram--why let out all the demon's secrets at once). She has not eaten. The maids too her coat. She is wearing the dress he chose--it is lace and thin. She is freezing. We feel her impatience in the slow walk of her aunt and uncle to greet her. We will see how this fits in the next installment.
Finally, I reminded you of the relationship between Aksinya and her uncle and aunt--this is new information. It ties Aksinya to these people through her mother and gives you a hint about her mother.
You can see there is a lot in each tiny piece of a scene. I should get to this detail in every "revelation" to you, but I usually don't have time. This is Sunday and I am drinking a caupachino, a martini with olives and avocado, and smoking a great cigar. In a moment, I will be adding to chapter 11. Happy reading.