For those who haven’t been following this blog, let me introduce it a little. I am currently blogging my 21st novel that has the working title Daemon. The novel is about Aksinya, a sorceress, who, to save her family from the Bolsheviks, called and contracted the demon, Asmodeus. Her family was murdered anyway, and she fled with the demon from Russia to Austria.
Aksinya and Natalya are at Grossbock. This is their usual weekend hangout. Ernst with the acceptance and help of Aksinya's aunt and uncle, has invited himself to dinner...
When Saturday evening came around, Aksinya did not greet Herr von Taaffe at the door. She read a book in the family parlor, and Natalya sat with her. Freiherr Bockmann wanted to use the formal greeting parlor, but Aksinya liked the large fireplace in the family parlor with its very warm wood and coal fire. She remained facing the fireplace when Herr von Taaffe entered.
Ernst came around to the blazing fireplace and stood in front of Aksinya, “Countess Golitsyna, good evening.”
Aksinya made a wry face, but didn’t look up from her book, “Good evening, Herr von Taaffe.”
“Sweet Lady, I told you, you may call me, Ernst.”
“Very well, Ernst.” She glanced up from her book. “Do not neglect my lady-in-waiting. She is not your servant, and you have been introduced.”
“I’m sorry, Lady Obolenska. Good evening.”
Freiherr Bockmann pulled a chair over for Ernst. He put it close to the left side of Aksinya’s seat. Ernst sat down. Aksinya opened her book again, and Ernst pulled it out of her hands. He laughed, “You didn’t intend to neglect me, did you?”
“No, I did accept your invitation to dine and to the opera next week.”
“I received your post.”
“Then, you see I have no intention of neglecting you. In fact, I shall give you all my attention on Wednesday evening.”
“What about tonight?”
Aksinya scowled at him, “You did not ask my permission about tonight. You came to entertain my aunt and uncle. I certainly don’t want to get in your way.”
Ernst laughed again, “I warned you I was coming. I invited myself to your aunt and uncle’s for the purpose of seeing you again. Will you let me entertain you?”
“What? Entertain me in my own relation’s home? That is certainly pretentious.”
“With your and their permission, I will attempt to engage you in a pleasant evening’s conversation.”
“I intended to read this evening.”
“Then I shall read to you.”
Aksinya’s eyebrow rose, “You would?”
Aksinya took the book from him and stuck it between her hip and the chair, “Perhaps after dinner.” She stood, “Ernst, you may escort me to table. Uncle, I am ready for dinner.”
They went together into the family dining room.
Aksinya was pleasant to Ernst during dinner and the rest of the evening. He left before the Freiherr and Freifrau retired for the evening. Ernst did not read to Aksinya that evening, they were all too busily engaged in polite conversation.
Aksinya is being a real stinker, but in the culture, her actions are considered reasonable. Ernst wants her attention. She is not ready to give it so readily. You can imagine Aksinya's mind. She wants her books. She is just getting comfortable with Ernst, but she would never admit that. She snubs him, but he treats her as a friend. Aksinya, at this point, is without any help. The Freifrau and Freiherr, and Natalya are all happy to see her a friend with Ernst.
Ernst places himself where he can't be ignored. Aksinya snubs him, but acknowledges his precense. In this culture, that is a step ahead. Ernst announces before the "family," Aksinya may call him by his given name. That is very intimate. Because she does would be a reason for her aunt and uncle to rejoice. Aksinya bursts Ernst's bubble by reminding him of his manners. She does it in a very strong way that lifts up Natalya.
The Freiherr is encouraged by Aksinya's intamacy and brings a chair for Ernst. Ernst, likewise, acknowledges his closeness by taking the book out of Aksinya's hands. He reminds her of her responsibility as a member of the host's family, and she turns it around at him. We also get that Aksinya responded to Ernst's letter. I don't show you the letter, but let you know it was. Then, we get to the whole part that is iritating to Aksinya--tonight. Ernst didn't ask her about this evening. She's right, Ernst used his influence on her uncle. Aksinya is quite proper in her response. We get a dialog give and take about this very point. It is a verbal contest that Ernst wins by giving everything to Aksinya. Aksinya likes this in a man. She does want a man she can control. The evidence of the action is that Aksinya places her book away--it doesn't get taken out again that evening. She allows Ernst to escort her to dinner. This is a huge change from ignoring him to taking his arm to dinner.
The end is a small kicker--he didn't read to her because they were engaged in polite conversation. Aksinya is indeed warming to Ernst von Taaffe. Tomorrow, a small transition and dinner at Sacré Coeur.