The Abbot of Sacré Coeur has been conversing with Aksinya. The Cardinal of Wien comes up to them and addresses her...
The Cardinal and his secretary came up beside the Abbot, who moved to the side, “Good evening, Father Abbot.”
The Abbot bowed and made a slight genuflect, “Your Eminence.”
Aksinya nodded and Natalya curtsied. The Cardinal bowed deeply to Aksinya, “Countess, we are very happy to have you within our spiritual care, but we do understand that you are Orthodox and not Catholic.”
“Have you had the opportunity to acquaint yourself with the Orthodox community in Wien?”
Aksinya tilted her head, “We have attended the Ecclesia where Father Makar presides.”
The Cardinal smiled, “I would like to win you over to our church, but I promise, I will not attempt that. You must take the time to become familiar with the Orthodox community. You will be very helpful to them especially with all the refugees coming across the Russian boarder at this time. I will speak to the Archpriest Makar about you. He is a good friend of mine and may not realize how close your residence is to the Ecclesia.”
“I didn’t realize Father Makar was an Archpriest. Thank you, Your Eminence.”
“That is my pleasure, Countess. I hope the Father Abbot explained how important you are to us.”
“He mentioned generally, but he didn’t say anything about my importance.”
“But you are, dear lady. The people today look for help following this disastrous war. The revolution and now civil war in Russia only made things worse. The people need a strong aristocracy and church to help led them in these times. Our own aristocracy is weak in numbers and control. The Russian nobility, on the other hand, is very well established. Although it is a loss to Russia, we hope to strengthen our own nation with more expatriates like you. We pray you can integrate yourself into our society and culture in a very positive way.”
“My Uncle and Aunt are of a similar mind. I hope I can live up to your expectations as well.”
“Yes, please keep up your studies for their sake. I think your uncle would like to see you as the jewel in the crown of our city some day. He is very proud of you.”
“Thank you. My Aunt and Uncle have been to me like the mother and father I lost in Russia. I am indebted to them.”
The Cardinal glanced from the sides of his eyes, “You are a very pleasant noblewoman. I can see that you will go far.” He smiled, “I will gladly help you all I can. You may contact my secretary, Herr Schwab.” He pointed at the layman beside him, “If you have any needs.”
“Again, thank you, Your Eminence.”
He bowed. The Abbot bowed. They both bowed their way back to the floor of the ballroom.
I added the secretary late because he is a bit character later. I wanted to make a foreshadowing and introduce you in thought to him. This is the delightful part of controlling the world of a novel. The characters much follow all the rules of the real world and the world that is developed for them, but the depth of the novel begins and ends with the interweaving of the important and less important interactions.
When the Cardinal approaches Aksinya, we see the typical honors given such men in the time. The Cardinal begins by displaying his knowledge of Aksinya. The Cardinal is a pleasant man who is very interested in his charges and their spiritual needs. This is important to note because the Cardinal will be guilty of much later. He is mentioned, but doesn't make an appearance--the reasons will become obvious. He banters with Aksinya and overpraises her. As I said, he is a very pleasant man.
The Cardinal reveals some new information to us that Father Makar is an archpriest. This is at least the equal of a Bishop and close to an Archbishop in the Orthodox church. This means the Cardinal or Wien and Father Makar are about equal in rank. The Cardinal goes on to tell Aksinya how important she is to the community and to the people in Austria. His views are very typical for the times and for his position. The church is a part of the nobility, after all. The Cardinal praises Aksinya and then we get the name of his secretary. I don't want you to have to memorize this, but when you hear the name again, I want you to remember that you heard it before. Plus, the Cardinal's promise is ironic. The two priests leave and leave Aksinya alone again at a grand party. What's going on? We shall see tomorrow.