Frau Drescher just can't smile. I do wish you to think about this. I want to use Frau Drescher somewhere in the novel as a greater character, but I haven't worked her into the main plotline for the theme--that is other than a colorful secondary character.
Frau Drescher paused again and her mouth rotated up in a little line that became a frown. She turned around and led them to the end of the corridor. It went around a corner to the right and there entered a long well lighted corridor. The corridor halted at a stairway where the archway into the courtyard bisected the lower floor. The hallway was covered in heavy, flower decorated wall paper. The flowers were light pink and yellow roses. Along the street side were high windows that let in much light, but still hid the street from view. No one would be able to look outside or in. The hallway was cold and stuffy. Because of the crisp December weather, none of the windows were open. On the other side of the corridor were widely spaced doors with a gas lamp on the wall between each of them. The floor was dark oak and covered with long runners that were similar in decoration to the wall paper. The runners were each centered on a door and ran from room center to room center.
Frau Drescher opened her hand and gestured toward the doors, “These are the rooms of our regular students. The young ones share a room with eight together. As they progress in age, we allow them to have four as roommates and finally, after they are fifteen, they are allowed two to a room. We always keep at least two to a room to prevent any impropriety. The room we have prepared for you is our best. We don’t have any other students of your social standing right now. The highest is a bevy of ladies of the courts, but none of them are titled.”
Aksinya asked, “Is that unusual?”
“Not really. Most of the titled ladies are educated and trained at home.”
Aksinya looked down, “I see. That is so. I was also educated at home—when I had one.”
The Freifrau stepped up, “Really, Frau Drescher, there is no reason to remind the Countess of her loss. Her home is with us now. It is, to my mind, better for her to gain your gymnasium’s knowledge and prepare herself for higher learning.”
Frau Drescher’s lips formed a fine line that then fell into a frown again, “What you say is very true, Freifrau Bockmann. I was simply answering the Countess’ question.”
First, we get the description of the lower floor of the dormitory. The picture I paint isn't unpleasant, but the place is stifling. I also try to give you a flavor of the times and the building. Notice the gaslamps and the very beautiful fixtures. Still, the picture is of a cramped and stifling place. From the wall paper to the rooms set in near perfect symmetry. Then we find the reason for the order in Frau Drescher's dormitory--to prevent impropriety.
We see the reason there are no titled ladies in the school. The only reason Aksinya is there is that she lost her family, and we see again Frau Drescher's lack of sensitivity. I also wanted to remind you and Aksinya of her condition.