If you haven't noticed, the world has changed to focus on Ernst von Taaffe. Asmodeus accomplished this so easily in Aksinya and Natalya's lives. The demon tempted Aksinya with sorcery and succeeded. He tempted her with education and succeeded. He tempted her with a household and servants and succeeded. He tempted her with a friend and succeeded. Now, he tempts her with a lover. Will the demon succeed here too? Aksinya is conversing with Natalya on just this subject...
Aksinya turned her a foul look.
“Aksinya, what about the man. He said he is infatuated with you. He likes you for who you are. What does a moldy book have to do with anything?”
“You are cruel, Nata. Why would I want a man? What would I do with him? I can do something with a book.”
“A book of sorcery. The thing you seem to hate the most.”
“I do hate it.”
“But you are so wonderful at it.”
“It is a wasted skill.”
“But you are so skilled at it. In any case, this young man likes you. He is the son of an aristocrat. You need to determine if he will become the Graf. If so he will be equal to you in rank and therefore a balanced union.”
“What if I don’t seek any union?”
Natalya’s mouth opened and closed, finally she squeaked out, “Of course you want a union. You must find a man to marry—a man who is close to your rank. That will bring honor to your family and to the nobility.”
Aksinya shook her head, “Nata, my family is dead. In Russia, the nobility will soon be dead. You heard Fraulein Vogt this evening, the Austrian Parliament intends to outlaw the aristocracy in Austria. There is no purpose in making a good match anymore.”
“But, Aksinya, there is still a purpose in marrying a good man.”
Aksinya mumbled, “He isn’t a good man. He is a man who desires sorcery.”
“Then he is just like you. What is wrong with that? I desire sorcery. You…you…”
“Say it Nata. Go ahead. I know what you are going to say.”
“Very well, Aksinya. Though I desire it, you will not properly teach me.”
A knock came to the door. Aksinya jumped. Natalya turned toward the door, “You may enter, sister.”
Watch closely what is happening in the Aksinya/Natalya relationship. Where always before Aksinya led and Natalya followed, now Natalya is leading. Natalya encourages Aksinya in regards to Ernst, and Aksinya asks a penetrating question: “Why would I want a man? What would I do with him? I can do something with a book.” We will find later, Aksinya answers this question for herself at least intellectually.
Aksinya claims that she hates sorcery, but we all know she doesn't hate it at all--she desires it. She is tempted by it. Aksinya is lying. She doesn't like herself when she sucumbs to sorcery, just as she doesn't like herself when she sucumbs to sexual desire.
Natalya suggests that Ernst might make a good marriage companion for Aksinya--she responds with the obvious but false argument that leads back to the end of the nobility. Natalya answers with the truth--the purpose of marrying a good man. Aksinya has perhaps never thought of such a thing. She can't imagine that someone might desire her and love her.
Aksinya and Natalya's relationship is slowly changing. Aksinya is letting things get a little out of her control. Natalya will set her straight about men, or will she make things worse? Tomorrow, more of this conversation and more about Aksinya and Natalya's new friendship.