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.
Ernst invited himself to dinner on Saturday evening at Grossbock. We join Aksinya on Sunday morning...
Aksinya felt a little better at the Ecclesia on Sunday. The younger priest, Father Dobrushin’s piercing glance seemed to linger too much on her face, but Aksinya wasn’t certain if that was just her imagination. She didn’t speak to either of the priests that morning. Asmodeus did not make an appearance the entire weekend.
Aksinya and Natalya had a good beginning week at school. Natalya spoke passable German with a Russian accent. She was fluent enough now that she could keep up with her classes. Natalya still tutored her, but expended more effort on her own work. Her teachers were pleased. Natalya was pleased. Sister Margarethe was pleased. Aksinya was somewhat pleased with herself.
On Tuesday during dinner, Fraulein Pfaff again engaged Aksinya in conversation, “Well Countess, did you hear again from Herr von Taaffe?”
Aksinya grinned, “He came to dinner on Saturday.”
Fraulein Trauen dropped her fork, “At Grossbock?”
“Yes, at Grossbock.”
Fraulein Vogt asked, “Did you invite him?”
Aksinya sat up straight, “No, he invited himself through the Freiherr and Freifrau, but he informed me first of his intentions.”
Fraulein Pfaff clapped her hands together, “That is soooo suave. He is obviously a well bred gentleman.”
The elder sister at the table snapped her fingers at Fraulein Pfaff’s clap and loud response.
Fraulein Pfaff put her hands at her side and lowered her voice, “Sorry sister.”
Fraulein Vogt spoke excitedly, “Still that is very polished of him. I am more and more impressed by this gentleman. Has he asked you to accompany him again, Countess?”
“He has invited me to the opera and dinner on Wednesday.”
Fraulein Trauen grinned over her glass, “That’s Christmas Eve. I hope you don’t intend to drink as much that other evening.”
Aksinya’s lips turned up in a grin, “I intend to drink and eat as much as I like. I shall not drink so much I will miss any of Ernst’s advances.”
“Ernst?” Fraulein Trauen dropped her knife.
“Yes, he asked me to call him by his given name.”
Fraulein Trauen’s eyes widened, “And you do?”
“Of course I do. Why should I not?”
Fraulein Trauen was breathless, “What does he call you?”
Aksinya put her chin on the back of her hand and batted her eyes at Fraulein Trauen, “He calls me, Countess, of course.”
When I want to indicate to you Aksinya's spiritual condition, I show you how things go at the Mass. In this case, the Freiherr and Freifrau take Aksinya and Natalya to the Orthodox Ecclesia. There is a writer's trick here. I do not want you to forget about the Ecclisia, and I don't want you to forget about Father Dobrushin. He bothers Aksinya--this in itself should be an indicator. Asmodeus hasn't made an appearance in a while. Do you remember Aksinya's realization that the demon might be in the room with her and she wouldn't know?
The world is happy. Aksinya is content. Natalya is content. Natalya is progressing--Aksinya not so much. Remember, study was the thing Aksinya loved. She gave it up somewhat for Natalya. Still, everyone seems pleased with the world.
We transition to the Tuesday dinner conversation. I hope you enjoy these conversations as much as I enjoy writing them. When I set up the entire existence of the girl's school, I intended these conversations to enlighten you about many incidents around and within Aksinya's life. As I wrote before, one of the reasons for the setting was to allow this kind of information flow. I think this writing technique is effective and entertaining. If you want to use this technique, you must set up a situation that requires it. I recommend at least three or so adversaries. You must describe them and delineate them by their personalities and descriptions.
For this dinner conversation, the purpose is to communicate Aksinya's thoughts about Ernst. That is generally the purpose of all these kinds of dialogs. They allow the author to convey information to the reader without telling you what the character thinks. In every case, there is also some degree of unsurity about the true thoughts of the characters. Just like in real life, the reader should not know more than they can see or perceive. This is a critical rule in good writing.
The topic of conversation is announced immediately by Fraulein Pfaff. She is the positive character and the curious one. She is positive in her approach to Aksinya. Fraulein Trauen is the negative character. She is adversarial toward Aksinya. Fraulein Trauen's reaction tells you a lot about her thinking. She knows the name of the Bockmann's estate, and she knows Akinsya and Natalya go there for the weekends. Perhaps this is common knowledge in the school. I never told you it was. You assume it from the Fraulein's statement, but there is more. Fraulein Trauen's reaction also shows you that for a gentleman to come calling at the house of a lady is a big deal. You know in this culture that is true.
Fraulein Vogt is the neutral figure. Her father is also the politician. She asks the obvious question. The answer to such a question will give much information to the ladies at the table. That Ernst invited himself and it was accepted by the Freiherr is a big deal. This shows them that he is pursuing Aksinya with the blessings of her uncle. To Ernst's credit, he also told Aksinya he was coming to dinner on Saturday. He really didn't have to. Thus Fraulein Pfaff's reaction.
The Sister at the table has not had much input at all before. I didn't tell you she was a little deaf, but you might figure that out. Fraulein Pfaff's loud reaction gets a reproof. We get a reaffirmation from Fraulein Vogt about Ernst's gentlemanliness. Plus, Akinsya can then tell them Ernst asked her out again. Natalya is not unhappy with the invitation.
Fraulein Trauen takes the opportunity to get in a jibe at Aksinya's expense. She also gives me the opportunity to remind you of the scene setting in time--it is approaching Christmas Eve. Aksinya's reposte' is to the point and repeats the last kicker in this setting. She adds a little piece of information in her response, however. For her to call Ernst by his first name is a great intimacy in this time and social setting. It indicates very much to these ladies. Fraulein Trauen shows you that with her reaction. The important question from all the ladies around the table is what does Ernst call Aksinya? If he uses her given name, that means they are lovers. This is the response they all expect. If he calls her Fraulein, that means they are equals in relationship, but not intimate. Aksinya's answer floors them, it shows that she has not given over any intimacy from her degree of aristocracy. The fact that Ernst holds to that shows both his respect for Aksinya and the degree of difference between them. Aksinya might as well have said Ernst is her lapdog. Her response shows her degree of control over the relationship and puts the respect of the ladies at a new level. We will observe this new level of respect tomorrow.