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 has come to Ernst Father's estate in the mountains of Austria. Ernst greets the party, but his father quickly follows...
A man who looked like an older copy of Ernst descended the marble steps from the house. He was dressed in very conservative formal tails. His top hat sat jauntily on his head. A great smile filled his features. He laughed, “Ernst, the Freiherr and the Freifrau I know. Please introduce me to your friend.”
Ernst offered his arm to Aksinya and walked her to the gentleman, “Father, this is the Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna. Countess, this is my father, the Graf Franz von Taaffe.”
Aksinya proffered her gloved hand, and The Graf took it and bowed over it. When he raised his head, his eyes twinkled, “Good evening, Countess and welcome to Steinholtz. My son has truly chosen to court a treasure.”
Aksinya blushed at that too.
The Graf reluctantly, Aksinya thought, released her hand and turned toward her aunt and uncle. The Freiherr gave slight bow and the Freifrau a curtsy. Graf von Taaffe grasped the Freiherr’s hand and pumped it up and down. He bowed over Freifrau Bockmann’s hand.
Aksinya reached behind her and pulled Natalya forward. Lady Natalya made a low curtsy. Aksinya put out her hand, “Graf von Taaffe, this is my lady-in-waiting, the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska.”
Graf von Taaffe bowed over Natalya’s hand, “I have heard about your good friend also, Countess Golitsyna. You are also welcome, Lady Obolenska. That is a name of Russian nobility, is it not?”
Aksinya answered for Natalya, “The Lady Natalya is a member of the court.”
Graf von Taaffe turned his smile back to Aksinya, “Is that so? Then we are all well met.”
Aksinya continued, “You may address her as the Lady Natalya.”
Graf von Taaffe grinned at Aksinya, “I do understand the formality of the Russian court, but you may address me as Franz if you wish, Countess.”
“I have not given Ernst the favor of that informality with me, yet, sir. I am a little old fashioned in my thinking. I hope you don’t mind.”
The Graf seemed even more pleased, “I understand completely, Countess. Very well, it is cold outside, and I understand your delicate nature. Please, let us retire to the ballroom. There are refreshments, and I’m certain, my guests would like to make your acquaintance.” The Graf put out his arm toward Aksinya. She took it. Ernst frowned and gave his arm to Natalya. They made their way into the house with the Graf von Taaffe and the Countess Golitsyna in the lead.
So the Graf von Taaffe steps from the house. I give you a description of him. He is much like Ernst, but he is self-controlled and mature. Ernst introduces Akinsya and we see his approval. Ernst's father is suave and well-manured. He is a count in the Germanic nobility. The Graf calls Aksinya a treasure. Aksinya blushes because she doesn't think much of her beauty. This leaves us to wonder about how Aksinya really appears to others--we also wonder if the Graf is simply flattering her.
The Freiherr is obviously a good friend to the Graf. You might wonder that they have business dealings together. I don't tell you. It is really enough to leave the depths of the relationship unsaid. They are friends and this is enough.
I imply again that Natalya is hiding. Aksinya pulls Natalya forward and introduces her. The Graf show knowledge and consideration beyond the norm. He treats Natalya well for Aksinya's sake. The Graf's simple comment: we are all well met refers to the fact that everyone there is noble. This implies some degree of intimacy and connection. Then the question of the addresses. Aksinya begins by insisting that Natalya be addressed as a noblewoman. The Graf conveys a great boon on Aksinya by asking her to call him Franz--his first name. Aksinya is not scandalized, but this is an informality she will not accept.
The Graf is pleased because Aksinya shows such strong presence of mind, decorum, and will. She did not simply agree to call the Graf Franz. She wasn't afraid to contradict him. She holds to the decorum of the court even when offered the opportunity to be less formal. The Graf obviously knows a lot about Aksinya--he either came to the information from Ernst or some other source. Notice, he is concerned about her delicate nature--that is a reference to the cold, and Aksinya has problems with being cold. Now we head into the mansion to make the acquittance of the Graf's guests. Tomorrow, the interior and the Graf's friends.