Aksinya showed Natalya her mother's jewelry box then Natalya saw the rosary and the burns from it on Aksinya's chest. Natalya is dressing Aksinya.
Aksinya’s shoulders drooped, “I’ll tell you later. Yes, later. Please hurry, Nata. Otherwise we shall be late.”
“Nata?” Natalya put the blouse on Aksinya and began to button it.
“Yes, Nata, and you are supposed to call me Aksinya.” Aksinya slid off the bed and stood.
“I am so embarrassed…” Natalya pulled the slip and skirt up Aksinya’s slim legs. She buttoned and belted it.
“I have a gift for you, Nata, but only if you call me, Aksinya, as you did last night.”
Natalya pulled the sweater on Aksinya and began to button it, “I am sorry, mistress. I will call you Aksinya.”
“Very good.” Aksinya took a small jeweled cross on a golden chain that had been in her mother’s jewel box. “Bow you neck, Lady Nata.”
Natalya bent her head and Aksinya placed the chain around her neck. Natalya picked it up in her hand and stared at it, “Is this really for me?”
“It is yours forever, Nata. Now hide it. It’s definitely against Frau Drescher’s rules to wear jewelry—even a cross.” Aksinya pulled open the top of Natalya’s blouse and let the cross fall down its front.
Natalya gazed at Aksinya, “It doesn’t burn.”
“That’s because you are an innocent person.” She gave a half smile, “I am not.” Aksinya started for the door, “Come on, we’re late, we’ll have to get tea at breakfast.”
Natalya made a strange face, but she answered, “I’m sorry mistress. I already heated the water for tea.”
Aksinya smiled, “You are so very, very good, Nata. Come on, I’ll pour your tea today.”
Natalya put her hands over her mouth, but she quickly followed Aksinya out of their rooms.
Natalya doesn't really get her answer. You know she figured it out on her own. Natalya is very bright, but she gives the impression, intentionally, of not being. That is Natalya. So, I use some writing techniques to further show her personality and the pressure Aksinya is giving her. That is, while dressing, Aksinya insists Natalya call her by her name. She uses the carrot of a gift and then presents it to her. Note, how it is presented. This is the way a noble lady presents a gift to an important courtier. A point not lost on Natalya. Remember Natalya's origins. She never received anything of importance. Here Aksinya presents her with a very valuable cross necklace. You can guess from the context the point of this little exchange. Aksinya wants to protect Natalya from the demon. That is obvious and the underlying context of the gift. She also wants to solidify Natalya's alliance. We know that is unnecessary, but Aksinya thinks in terms of nobility--such displays and honors are always necessary.
The jewelry must be hidden from Frau Drescher. I never told you about this rule until now--remember there were more rules in the dormitory. I told you then, I wouldn't give you a list. Here I show you one without making a list--you can guess some others on your own.
Natalya's response to the cross on her skin shows many things. First Natalya expected it to burn her. Because it doesn't, she realizes afresh the differences between her and Aksinya. Remember, Natalya lusts to be the apprentice to Aksinya, but Aksinya wants no part of it. The response from Aksinya answers another question, one about innocence. We will find out later why Natalya could not believe that. That is why she made a strange face at the comment about innocence.
There is a rush from the beginning of this piece to be out of the rooms and get to breakfast. Natalya already has water on for tea, and Aksinya spins Natalya's world again "I'll pour your tea." That shows honor as much as anything. Again, the response from Natalya.
So today, we see a very simple exchange that is not simple at all. There is foreshadowing and information flowing all over the place. Each of these details is conveyed by an expression of the personality of Aksinya and Natalya. That is the power of dialog to move the story, plotline, and express the theme.
On another note, I just started chapter 19. The point is I wanted to mention something about writing in scenes. That is my major technique. I have been prepping for the scene I just finished from the beginning of the novel. I am near the end of the novel, and the astounding thing is I could probably finish it if I just started writing, but if I did, I'd die. The amount of effort to write the initial draft of anything is very high for me. It is also amazing to see how a scene develops even when you know its input and output. I set the scene and let the characters play out the scene within the setting. I know where the scene is going and I know what should be in it, after that, there is no holds barred. So the scene many times takes on a life of its own. This part of the writing process is like magic to me. The scenes almost write themselves. They leap on to the page and usually end up very much like I wanted it, but not exactly how I imagined it. When I get to that point in the pieces, I'll try to remember to tell you how some of the very important interactions became changed from my initial thoughts.