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, Natalya, and the Bockmanns are at Ernst Father's estate for a New Years party. Dinner and dessert are over; now is the time for dancing...
Ernst and his father led the men from the table. Aksinya followed a servant and the ladies to the parlor. The women spoke with Aksinya and that part of the evening was very pleasant to her. After a while, the men returned to the parlor and the Graf led Ernst to Aksinya, “Countess, would you come to the ballroom. I have promised my guests a dance, and I hoped you would dance with my son.”
Aksinya stood and took Ernst’s arm. She was a little wobbly from the wine. She glanced at him, “I would be pleased to dance.”
In the ballroom, the Graf made a motion toward the sting quartet, and they began to play a waltz. Ernst clasped Aksinya’s hand and led her into the dance. He didn’t say anything and didn’t look at Aksinya at first. She asked him, “Are you embarrassed about your father’s comments at dinner?”
Ernst frowned, “Am I that obvious?”
She laughed, “Yes.”
“Do you understand his meaning?”
“Yes, I think I do. This is why you brought me, isn’t it? Your father sees me as a potential candidate for your bride.”
“Yes, it is that obvious?”
“It was that obvious from the beginning.”
“Yes… And what are your feelings?”
“Feelings have little to do with it.”
Ernst stopped cold, “Wha…what do you mean?”
Aksinya pursed her lips, “Everyone is staring.”
Ernst led off again, “Everyone is staring at you.”
“You are absolutely gorgeous in that dress. If you didn’t wish to be stared at, you shouldn’t wear such beautiful clothing. Didn’t you realize?”
Aksinya tossed her head, “Natalya chose my dress. I leave such things to her. If you wished perfection in decorum and dress you should be interested in her.”
“But I am not interested in her. I am interested only in you.”
“Only because of what I am…”
Ernst pulled her a little closer, “This is not the place to speak about such things.”
“Come, we will converse in private.”
Aksinya pressed her lips together again, “Not without my chaperone.”
So the evening continues. The conversation of dinner has a break due to dessert and after dinner drinks. I show you this little cultural phenomena and refer to its reasons. Usually the gentlemen go to smoke after dinner. They usually have an after dinner drink. The ladies usually have an after dinner drink and dessert with coffee or tea.
When the men return to the the parlor, it is time to begin the dance. The Graf is pushing his son into Akinsya's arms--did you expect anything else? Aksinya is a little tipsy--did you expect anything else? Aksinya will dance. Dancing is one of the major civilized pleasures of the time, and this was a period when all educated and refined people knew how to dance.
Aksinya and Ernst begin to dance. He doesn't speak and Aksinya is a little drunk, so she does not hold her tongue. The conversation at dinner is the topic. Ernst is obviously upset about his father's candor. Ernst is obvious. Ernst has always worn his thoughts and his emotions on his sleeve. From the beginning, he hasn't kept any secrets from us or Aksinya. His love letters are straight forward. His love is like a puppy dog's.
What should surprise us is how observant Aksinya has been. She picked up on everything. She knew what was going on. I ask you again, do you think she is a woman in love? The Graf was just short of inviting Aksinya into the family at dinner. He invited her to call him by his given name. He gave her to Ernst to escort. He sat her in the place of the lady of the house. He spoke candidly to her about Ernst and his future. The next step is obvious to everyone but Aksinya.
So Ernst asks Aksinya in a round about manner. This is not the correct approach with her at all. He asks: “Yes… And what are your feelings?” (her feelings about marriage to him--that is, about love for him). Aksinya floors him with her answer: “Feelings have little to do with it.” You can see all that is happening here. Ernst has been dropping hints from the beginning of their relationship. Well, okay, not so much hints as straight out declarations. He loves her and wants to marry her. He thought that Aksinya would fall in love with him just as he has fallen in love with her. He thought that all the preparation would make her fall into his arms. He thought that even if she didn't love him, he was at least so good a catch that she would just act like she loved him and everything would be well. That isn't Aksinya. Plus, Ernst approached Aksinya about sorcery. He has her book. This little perversion of the relationship is the problem.
When they stop in the middle of the dance, everyone is staring at them. Well, duh. They are the reason for this party. They are the couple here. Everyone knows what is going on. A marriage proposal is in the works. This is the way things are done. Aksinya takes the staring for their motionlessness in the middle of the dance floor. Ernst gives another reason--Aksinya's beauty. Which is right? We know Aksinya is not beautiful, but her dress perhaps makes her look stunning. This is why the perceptions of the characters are untrustworthy--just like real life. We see the happenings around the characters and have to interpret them for ourselves--just like real life. By the way, I use an advance writing technique to show you all this. I don't tell you everyone is staring; I show you through Aksinya and Ernst conversation that everyone is staring. No description, just dialog.
Ernst response and declaration that Aksinya is "absolutely gorgeous" shows us that he is smitten. Whether Aksinya is as ugly as she believes is immaterial to Ernst and to his father. Look as Aksinya's response. Natalya chose the dress (she likely chose it for Ernst, but Natalya is the reason, not Aksinya). There is another way of looking at this--we choose our servants to make us look good. That is their purpose. There is a foreshadowing here about Natalya. I won't do anything other than point this out to you right now.
This interaction leads to the point Aksinya has held to all this time. She doesn't believe Ernst loves her for herself, but only for her sorcery. That is the reason for her statement. Aksinya is a little drunk and she is hot for a little confrontation with Ernst. Ernst and his father put her on the spot at dinner. She believes everything is a facade and the facade is based not on Ernst's love for her and what she is, but rather on her sorcery and the demon's actions to influence Ernst and perhaps his father.
Ernst invites Aksinya to have a private conversation. Of course this can't be allowed. This action alone likely proves how inexperience Ernst is with women. He should know this. On the other hand, if he does know this, they his request is pure induendo. We will see tomorrow the beginnings of thier private conversation.