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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A New Novel, Part 86 How was School?

I wanted to give you an idea of what Aksinya might look like.  The features of the woman on the left are not significantly unflattering, but they are typically Russian, and they aren't necessarily those of a beauty.  The clothing and hairstyle is very nearly typical of the 1918 period too.

We observed Freifrau Bockmann's appraisal of Aksinya and Natalya.  Now she begins with small talk and then gets to her point--the plans.

The Freifrau Bockmann waited until the carriage had cleared the archway of the convent and school before she asked, “How was your first week?”

Aksinya’s mouth turned into a frown before it raised into a partial smile, “It was pleasant.”

Lady Natalya’s face was set in a bright smile. She didn’t say anything.

“Did you make any friends?”

Aksinya stared out of the window, “We didn’t make any enemies.”

Freifrau Bockmann wasn’t certain what to say. She cleared her throat, “Do you like your teachers?”

Natalya nodded.

Aksinya took a deep breath, “They try hard. Perhaps we can learn here.”

Freifrau Bockmann continued as though she hadn’t heard Aksinya’s last response, “I have made plans for the next week.”

The young women turned their faces expectantly toward the lady. Natalya with her smile, and Aksinya with a crease between her brows.

“The Christmas season is almost upon us, and we usually host a party at this time for our friends and their families. I want to have a coming out and introductory party for you, Countess. That way we will kill two birds with one stone—we can have a wonderful Advent party and at the same time introduce you to the society of Wien.”

Aksinya put her hand under her chin, “But during Advent? When will you have it? Advent is a time of penance. You would have to celebrate it on Sunday for the feast.”

Freifrau Bockmann waved her hand, “Don’t worry about that. I intend to have the party on Saturday after next. We will invite the abbot of Sacré Coeur and the cardinal of Wien. That will make everything right. They won’t dare to miss the party, and everyone will come to meet you.”

Aksinya turned her face back to the window, “I see.”

“Yes, it will be a wonderful party. You both will meet many young and aristocratic men. I wouldn’t be surprised if you both didn’t find suitors during the event.”

“Suitors?” Natalya colored.

“Suitors.” Aksinya rested her chin more squarely on her hand.

Freifrau Bockmann gives them a little time to feel comfortable, then she launches her offensive.  The typical questions you hated from your mother.  Aksinya's answers are sooo proper.  Natalya allows her mistress to speak for her, of course.  Then Aksinya's true nature and aristocratic character comes out--we didn't make any enemies.  Freifrau Bockmann doesn't know what to say--the point of Aksinya was to drive her off the topic.  The Freifrau didn't get the point, so Aksinya gives it to her again--they try hard.  Perhaps we can learn here.  The Freifrau isn't listening.  She has made plans for Aksinya (Natalya is an afterthought to her, but not to Aksinya).  Note their responses--Natalya smiles, Aksinya is concerned.

So, the Freifrau wants a coming out party for them.  In this culture, the point is obvious, to introduce them to eligible men.  Advent is not the time to have such a party.  Aksinya is right on.  Technically, the party should be on a Sunday (a feast day) otherwise that would be wrong, according to the church calendar.  The Freifrau shall make that right by inviting the Abbot and the Cardinal.  That, of course, in her mind will absolve her.  The final point is for the reader.  The idea of attracting suitors is the point of such a party.  I wanted you to see the response of Aksinya and Natalya.  You might wonder about Natalya's blush.  By the way, the Abbot and the Cardinal aren't that important in the scheme of things, but I want you to have the opportunity of meeting them (at the party).  They will be important, though not observed much in the future.

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