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 von Taaffe asked Aksinya to marry him--she didn't answer him right away. Natalya, Aksinya's chaperone, drags her back to the ballroom and the party...
They both returned to the ballroom. Until they entered the rooms Graf von Taaffe’s servants provided them, Natalya did not speak to Aksinya again that evening. She stuck close to Aksinya for the rest of the event. After Ernst rejoined the party, he did not let Aksinya out of his sight. Natalya watched Ernst with frosty eyes.
Aksinya sat beside the large fireplace closest to the dining room and outside the draft that blew constantly through the long room. She drank and stewed. She would not engage anyone in conversation for very long, but that didn’t matter, the party was winding down and the couples were primarily interested in dancing.
Near midnight, Graf von Taaffe stepped to Aksinya’s side, “Countess, would you honor me with this dance?”
“Why not?” Aksinya’s words were only a little slurred. Her Russian accent cut through the German. Aksinya had feigned weariness to fend off the other invitations she received that evening. She wished Ernst would ask her to dance again. She knew she could not beg off this offer from her host. She stood a little shakily.
The Graf took her hand in his and placed his arm around her back. He led her into the waltz, “I didn’t notice your Russian accent before, Countess.”
Aksinya tried unsuccessfully to pronounce her German words as she usually did, “I was not drunk before.”
“Drunk? You seem very steady on your feet for being drunk.”
“I’m used to it. I’m sorry, I should have said, I had drunk too much wine before and not that I was drunk.”
The Graf smiled, “I have happy news for you. I hoped you had as happy news for me.”
His smile slipped a little, “Yes, I understand. I didn't see the ring on your finger. Then your answer to my son was not an affirmative?”
“I have not given him my answer yet.”
Aksinya and Natalya return to the ballroom. Natalya is obviously very angry. We are not certain what or who her anger is directed toward. There is a hint, Natalya watched Ernst with frosty eyes. Ernst has made Natalya angry, but she seemed angry at Aksinya before. Just what is bothering her...we shall see eventually.
Aksinya finds a warm place. She is given the most comfortable space in the room. This was likely the place reserved for the lady of the house. She drank and stewed. Aksinya isn't happy either. So, Ernst isn't happy. Natalya isn't happy. Aksinya isn't happy. Is anyone happy? Aksinya certainly isn't a very pleasant guest either, but we didn't expect her to be--she is a countess.
Fortunately, the Graf comes to rescue Aksinya; he asks her to dance. Aksinya is drunk. She is so drunk she can't pronounce her German properly. We find that she wanted to dance with Ernst again, but Ernst was put off by Natalya--not Aksinya. Aksinya could not turn down an invitation to dance from her host. She is shaky--she's drunk.
The Graf apparently doesn't notice Aksinya is drunk. His first words: “I didn’t notice your Russian accent before.” Can you imagine this. She tries to speak properly. We aren't certain of her success, but she is out drunk and truth telling Aksinya by this point. The Graf can't believe she is drunk. He doesn't seem surprised or upset. Aksinya makes the situation worse from one standpoint. Only those who drink a lot can handle alcohol so well. She tries to correct herself, but she isn't very successful.
The Graf gets to his point: “I have happy news for you. I hoped you had as happy news for me.” As to the Graf's news, you might guess it, we shall see it tomorrow. You know the news he wishes to hear from Aksinya. Her answer is perfect in perspective: “I’m drunk.” The reason she is drunk, she implies, is the reason she can't give the Graf a happy answer. The happy answer he expected, of course, was the Aksinya had accepted the ring and Ernst's proposal.
This whole party was put together by the Graf so Ernst could propose. He brought together his most important friends and retainers just for this very purpose. Now, the Graf isn't happy either. But there is still hope--Aksinya hasn't given her answer yet. Tomorrow, the Graf's happy news.