At dinner, Aksinya wants information about Ernst von Taaffe. She suddenly has to contend with all kinds of problems at the table...
Aksinya turned her head toward the lady, “Because I had too much wine to drink.”
Fraulein Trauen slitted her eyes, “A young woman should always be careful and decorous.”
Lady Natalya had been following the conversation in German fairly well, “My mistress was both careful and decorous. I just had to help her up the stairs to bed.”
Fraulein Pfaff puffed out her cheeks, “You should be more careful than that. It is as Fraulein Trauen says, Ernst von Taaffe would be a good match for you.”
Fraulein Vogt put up her chin, “Such connections are meaningless now. My father told me, during the next session, the new Austrian Parliament intends to ban the aristocracy.”
The ladies across the table nodded sagely. Aksinya sunk a little lower in her seat. Natalya looked puzzled.
Fraulein Trauen smiled slyly, “Then there is no reason you should be careful or decorous, and then little reason for Ernst von Taaffe to not entertain us also.”
Aksinya scowled, “I understand your meaning there too. You mean I would not be able to attract Ernst von Taaffe except that I am a countess.”
Fraulein Trauen bit her lip. She looked down her nose at Aksinya, “It is usually not polite…”
“…to say what is unspoken, but true.” Aksinya finished for her.
Fraulein Trauen rose up an inch from her seat. She slowly sat back down and let out her breath.
Aksinya didn’t move an inch, “That serves you well, Fraulein Trauen. Self control is a very important trait in a young woman.”
Fraulein Trauen sniffed.
Aksinya gave a small smile, “It is a trait that I do not possess in the least.” She turned to Natalya, “Lady Natalya are you ready to retire for the evening?”
Fraulein Trauen’s lips were tight, “Retreat, you mean.”
“I concede the field to you, Fraulein Trauen. I cannot hold it with my virtue or my beauty.” She stood.
Natalya and Aksinya returned to their house across the street. When they left the dining room, Sister Margarethe joined them at the door. Aksinya didn’t acknowledge the nun, but Natalya gave her a greeting in German.
Aksinya drank too much. Fraulein Trauen won't let it go. She makes another snide comment and Natalya gets into the mix. Fraulein Pfaff agrees, but Fraulein Vogt gives some new information. In 1919, the parliament of Austria plans to vote to end the aristocracy (they did). The end of the aristocracy is a hard thing for Aksinya to contemplate. Her entire life is about aristocracy. We will find out soon how much the concept drives her.
Fraulein Trauen just sees this as another opportunity to attack Aksinya. Aksinya is very bright, she gets it, and she is not afraid to say out loud that which Fraulein Trauen dares not say. Aksinya doesn't care about such things. She views people as they are. Although, Aksinya should be the one who takes offense, it is Fraulein Trauen who begins to get up. Aksinya wins the round--she does indeed prove her worth and nobility. She teaches a lesson that Fraulein Trauen doesn't get. Then we get a confession from Aksinya--she knows that she doesn't have self control. Actually she has unbelievable self control, but like everyone--there are things she has no self control about. These are the things she means: luxuria, sorcery, sexual desire.
If you don't love Aksinya, at least you must love her wit: “I concede the field to you, Fraulein Trauen. I cannot hold it with my virtue or my beauty.”
Aksinya and Natalya return to Aksinya's house across the street. We shall see what Aksinya tells Natalya about Ernst von Taaffe tomorrow.