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 professed his love to Aksinya and kissed her. Natalya busted up the clinch and now they are in their respective corners. Fighting isn't really what either of them have in mind...
Natalya glanced at Aksinya. Aksinya hastily moved to the other end of the balcony. They waited for Natalya to return to her seat.
Aksinya bent forward a little toward Ernst. She whispered and tried to get her voice to carry to him, “You…you kissed me.”
Ernst kept his voice low, “I have wanted to kiss you for a long time.”
She touched her lips, “Why?”
“Because I love you.”
“What will you gain by loving me?”
Ernst smiled, “I desire you. That is all. I love you. Do you love me?”
“I…I don’t know.”
“Then I’m sorry I was so forward, but I’m not sorry I kissed you. I would hope to continue to woo you. I want you to marry me.” He pulled out a small box from his coat pockets, “I have a ring for you. I would like to give it to you tonight.”
“For me? Then you are serious?”
“Why would you think I wasn’t serious?”
“What about your father, and his wish for you to join his business?”
“I told him tonight that I would join the firm. I made arrangements with him to begin to work the following Monday. I will still be able to escort you to dinner and the opera on Wednesday. Didn’t you understand me? Even if you will not make up your mind tonight, I will continue to see you and entertain you. I will pursue you until your answer is yes. You have no other suitors?”
Aksinya shook her head.
“You don’t have another lover?”
Aksinya shook her head.
Ernst’s voice softened, “Then there are no others ahead of me. I have no competition.”
“But I have never imagined someone loving me before.”
Ernst shook his head, “Why should a man not love you. You are beautiful and intelligent. Your deportment and social skills are excellent. You enjoy all the past times I enjoy. Why should I not want to share my life with you?”
Aksinya stared out into the darkness and whispered, “This is a temptation to me. It is surely a temptation.” She spoke more loudly, “Did Anatov Aznabaev put you up to this?”
We find out just how clueless about everything Aksinya is. Aksinya wonders why Ernst would kiss her. Remember, she thinks she is ugly. She has resolved herself to this for her entire life. She can't imagine that any of her other features might make a man desire her, but we realize Aksinya is desirable for many reasons. She is astounded that Ernst would kiss her, so she asks why. His answer is just like we expect from Ernst, straightforward: "I love you." Let me point out that I use a lot of advanced writing techniques in this small exchange. Just one example is Aksinya's gesture--she touches her lips. This tells you a lot about her thinking and her wonder at what happened.
The main point, however, is Aksinya's response to Ernst: “What will you gain by loving me?” Remember Natalya's comment before--why does love have to be a contract with you (Aksinya). Aksinya can't imagine love without some contract or gain. Ernst offers her love; she wonders what he really wants. They could go around and around like this forever. Ernst really can't answer her question. He mixes love and desire. That would be a mistake usually, but he is talking to Aksinya. To Aksinya, love and desire go hand in hand. Even though she learned from Sister Margarethe that you don't have to have desire to have love--she doesn't fully understand it. When Ernst asks Aksinya if she loves him, she can only answer truthfully: “I…I don’t know.”
Ernst was expecting her to say "yes." His response shows this. He is tempting her, and he brings out his next temptation--luxuria. It is a ring, an engagement ring. This is something dear to any girl and especially dear to Aksinya. She loves luxuria more than anything. If she had ever thought someone might want to marry her, she might have thought marriage desirable. This is completely ironic, because Ernst is willing to give Aksinya luxuria to prove his love, then she accepts him as being absolutely serious.
Ernst adds another temptation to her. It was drug out by Aksinya's question. Ernst has bowed to his father's desires and will go to work for him. He will join the family business. Aksinya drove Ernst to this. Ernst has changed entirely for Aksinya. Can you guess the joy of Ernst's father. Ernst will become a dour Ernst for Aksinya. These are not cast off statements. The power of the change from the happy-go-lucky Ernst to the serious Ernst is an amazing change, and it is all due to the thoughtless statements of Aksinya.
Remember during the Opera of Mozart's Magic Flute, Aksinya's taunting of Ernst about her other suitor. Ernst wants to make certain. He asks about other suitors. He asks about other lovers. Notice, Aksinya doesn't really answer. She only shakes her head. We know there is a problem that stands in the way and that problem is a demon who has made a claim on Aksinya. I won't tell you now, but what do you think in terms of the demon's claim. Ernst draws the wrong conclusion, and Aksinya lets him do it. There is a small problem between them and that is Asmodeus. Aksinya doesn't love Ernst, but she wants Ernst. She can't answer truthfully about the demon. She doesn't want to drive Ernst away.
Look at her response: “But I have never imagined someone loving me before.” This statement is the absolute truth. In Aksinya's mind, no one really ever loved her (not even Natalya), but she obvoiusly doesn't understand love. Then from Ernst's heartfelt response about why someone might love Aksinya, we get her realization: “This is a temptation to me. It is surely a temptation.” Everything is a temptation for her. Everything is a carefully orchestrated temptation. We should never forget this and Aksinya should never forget this. Still, we want everything to be a French comedy and not a Russian tragedy. Aksinya wants to imagine her life is her own and not plyable clay in the hands of a demon. She asks the most important question yet: “Did Anatov Aznabaev put you up to this?” Tomorrow, Ernst answers this question and we learn more about what has been going on around Aksinya.