Aksinya is finally able to confront Sister Margarethe. During the conversation, we learn more about the great event in this chapter and we learn more about Sister Margarethe.
“I do not know. I have no idea what you did, but it is obvious to me, that you bled your heart and your soul to save me and the Lady Natalya. When we brought you here, you were dying. The doctor who examined you was astounded. The way we described your injuries, he was certain you would be already dead when he arrived. Instead, you were and are the picture of health.” She stared at Aksinya, “How do you explain this, Countess?”
Aksinya flounced back into her pillows, “I will not…cannot explain it.”
“Will not and cannot are two very different things, Countess.”
Aksinya glanced at the sister from the corner of her eyes. She didn’t speak.
“I know you don’t trust me. You said it to me directly, but you must trust me. I will not tell anyone about this. I will keep your secrets. This I promise.”
“This is something you should not promise.”
“Because you love God.”
“And I love you too.”
“Do you swear you will not and do not have lust for me?”
Sister Margarethe looked at Aksinya eye to eye, “I do love you. I am infatuated with you. I’m not sure why. In all my years, I’ve never been attracted to someone like this, but I don’t feel desire for you—not that kind of desire. I feel as if you were my little sister and I just want to hold your hand and make your life better. I don’t think your life has been very pleasant for a long while.”
Aksinya put out her hand, “I still don’t trust you, but you may hold my hand.”
Sister Margarethe carefully took Aksinya’s hand in hers.
Aksinya looked away from the nun, “Who was the young man who carried me here?”
“In the excitement, we never got his name. He had been trying to help the Lady Natalya and me when we were attacked, but it was you who finally saved us.”
“My memory was a little shaken, but he was dressed like an aristocrat.”
“That he was. His clothing was a mess by the time he laid you in your own bed.” Sister Margarethe paused a moment then continued, “What happened to the men at the tavern?”
Aksinya shuddered, “I don’t know.” She gave a quick glance back at the nun, “They are not dead.” She looked away again, “I did not kill them.”
“What did you do?”
“I will not say.”
“It was a miracle.”
“It was the opposite of a miracle.”
“The opposite? It saved both your handmaiden and your teacher from being violated. I think it was a miracle.”
“You must not think that.”
“Why not. If it was the cause of good, how can it be anything but good?”
“Because I am not good…”
“That is yet to be seen.”
I repeated the last paragraph of yesterday's dialog. Today, the conversation centers on a very important question. This may be a question that you have had. In many cases Aksinya's sorcery has led to some degree of good. In the current great enchantment, Aksinya saved Natalya and the Sister from rape. Aksinya herself made that comment to the demon--to commit sorcery to save the virtue of the two women, is that really wrong. I am intentionally providing you a paradox. The rabbis tell us that the commission of one sin to prevent a greater sin is not wrong. That is, to bear false witness to save a life, or to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus gave the same answer, but it was already known in the Mishna and later in the Talmud. The other Rabbinic train of thought is that any sin adds to the evil in the world and is to be avoided. This is the ultimate problem that can't be justified. Aksinya's sorcery did save, but at the same time, it increased the evil in her being and in the world. It led to Sister Margarethe's fall as I mentioned yesterday.
Sister Margarethe wants an explanation about the sorcery. This is something Aksinya cannot do. To do so would drag the Sister deeper into sin. Still the Sister presses. Then we get the extent of Sister Margarethe's fall. She will keep Aksinya's secrets. A relief to Aksinya, but an indication of the depth of the sister's descent. The conversation with Sister Margarethe about God could be almost the same with Natalya. The Sister and Natalya have both given their faith over to Aksinya. Sister Margarethe's confession of infatuation just confirms Aksinya's and our fears. That Aksinya allows the Sister to hold her hand is an indication of the acceptance of the Sister's faith and trust.
Then we get more about the young gentleman. You should expect more from this. Remember, there is nothing extraneous in my novels. I gave you the young man in the pivotal scene. The Sister and Aksinya have mentioned him twice in this conversation. This is a means of foreshadowing that puts the idea in the reader's mind in more than one way.
The questions move toward the men in the tavern. Is Aksinya's pronouncement of their safety a lie or does she know what happened to them? Then we get the exchange that focuses the point of the dialog on evil vs. good again. The Sister thinks Aksinya's sorcery was a miracle. For us this also is a relief. Perhaps Sister Margarethe has not fully placed her trust in Aksinya. Perhaps God is still first in her mind and heart and Aksinya only a second, but this isn't certain. Tomorrow more of this very important dialog.