Aksinya lied again. She told them she was nauseous because she had not eaten. She is bothered by Dobrushin's remarks. Her mind is embroiled with the book of sorcery. Then Aksinya and Natalya return to the school, but all is not well there either.
Aksinya couldn’t eat anything at luncheon. She took Natalya’s tea. She was unaccountably bothered by Father Dobrushin’s candid assessment, and she was preoccupied with thoughts about the book the demon had given her. She wanted to finish memorizing it. That was the main desire she felt. Eventually, Natalya dressed her for dinner, and they went down together. The weekend ended when Freifrau Bockmann delivered the two of them back to Sacré Coeur. She left them in the hands of the Reverend Mother with the promise to pick them up on Friday so they could begin preparations for the Advent party on the Saturday after next.
Aksinya and Natalya returned to their rooms and prepared for bed.
Monday morning brought more problems for Natalya. Aksinya had spent the entire night with her new book and would not wake up. Natalya finally dragged Aksinya out of bed and dressed her in her uniform. They were too tardy for breakfast and chapel, and they came in late to German class. Sister Margarethe just gave them a glance. There was no animosity in it. Before the class was half done, Aksinya fell asleep at the desk she shared with Natalya.
Natalya couldn’t ignore her, but she tried to not draw any attention to Aksinya.
Sister Margarethe came by with a look of concern and made a couple of notes. She glanced over Natalya’s work and spoke German with her for a while. The sister was obviously preoccupied in her concern about Aksinya. She kept looking over at the Countess. At the end of German class, Natalya shook Aksinya awake and led her to their next class. It should not have been a surprise that Aksinya slept through most of each class. Or that the sisters were perturbed. They dared not treat a countess like they would their normal students with a swat from a ruler or a thump from a book. They felt helpless to do anything other than keep a careful eye on her.
The Reverend Mother heard about Aksinya’s sleeping and lethargy that afternoon. All the teachers wanted a conversation with her about it. Yet, after the Reverend Mother heard from them, only Sister Margarethe sent a note to Aksinya through Frau Drescher.
A knock came that evening at Aksinya and Natalya’s sitting room door. Natalya answered it. She addressed the Frau in German, “Good evening, Frau Drescher.”
“Good evening, Lady Natalya. Your German is improving.”
“I have a note for the Countess from one of her teachers. Would you please give it to her?”
Natalya didn’t understand half of what the lady said, but she accepted the folded piece of paper from her and nodded.
Frau Drescher took a long look around the sitting room she could see from the door then stated, “Good night.”
Natalya closed the door and brought the note across the room to Aksinya. Aksinya was memorizing the brown book the demon had given her. Natalya handed the note to her and went back to her studies. Aksinya ignored the note for a while then finally opened and read it.
I have been asked by the Reverend Mother and your other teachers to talk to you about your classes today. She has allowed you to come to my cell and office in the convent tonight. Please come at eight and be on time. We will also go over the German you missed during class.
Aksinya looked up from the note to Natalya, “Nata, we’re going over to the house early tonight. You should bring your books.”
Natalya stretched, “Will we study together?” Her eyes moved excitedly toward the brown book.
Aksinya sighed, “Yes. I shall start you with some Latin, but only a little. We can work mostly on German.”
They put their regular cloaks over their uniforms and snuck down to the back exit from the dormitory. It was still unbarred, but Aksinya had to open the lock. They went over to the house and stayed there until late. They didn’t see Asmodeus anywhere.
Many things irritate Aksinya. She has a lot to think about and a lot that disturbs her. Still temptation holds her trapped, and that temptation is what is driving everything in her life. There is also still the Advent party in the near future. Aksinya is spending all her time with the new book of sorcery. Natalya couldn't wake Aksinya in time to make breakfast or get to chapel. Aksinya sleeps through her classes.
Sister Margarethe gives Aksinya attention that isn't in proportion to normal teaching. When we compare the attention the Sister gave to Aksinya, we can see some degree of truth to the demon's assertions. The sisters all want to do something about Aksinya, but only Sister Margarethe is given permission to confront Aksinya. We also see that Natalya is learning to understand German better, and Aksinya receives a note from the Sister. Aksinya knows what is in the note. She takes her time to read it. We know why Aksinya doesn't want to be alone with the Sister Margarethe. The demon wants Aksinya to seduce the Sister, and we assume the Sister might want to seduce Aksinya--this is what Aksinya thinks. Aksinya believes the best thing to do is run away--she may be right.
The Lady Natalya sees the opportunity to study sorcery with Aksinya. Her reaction is to glance at the book of sorcery. You can taste her desire. They went to Aksinya's house and stayed late. We will see the Sister's reaction tomorrow.