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.
The question of the bills and the post came up yesterday. Aksinya knows something is up about them both, but she is of no mind to worry about them. She has other concerns more pressing. She seeks luxuria to forget these pressing issues. Sister Margarethe now brings up the issue that plagues Aksinya...
Natalya turned Aksinya a strange look that Sister Margarethe and Aksinya both did not see.
Sister Margarethe shifted the cloaks in her arms, “Have you decided what you are going to answer Herr von Taaffe on Monday?”
Natalya cocked her ears.
“I have considered Herr von Taaffe’s proposal very carefully. I think it would be unfair to the gentleman if I told anyone before him.”
“He is a very fine young man. You could not do much better than to accept his proposal. I would hope that I might continue to serve you afterward.”
“Thank you, Sister Margarethe that is very kind of you. I will take your request into consideration. I don’t expect to leave this house or the school for a while even if my decision is to join myself with his household.”
Sister Margarethe seemed relieved, “Then you anticipate a long engagement?”
“I take everything under advisement depending on my answer to the gentleman. I enjoy his company. Perhaps I shall tell him I would like more time to consider his offer, and perhaps I will request a longer time to get to know him. Then again,” Aksinya’s eyes sparkled, “perhaps I shall accept him and his offer and entertain him here.”
Sister Margarethe put her hand over her mouth, “Surely, you would not. The Reverend Mother would not allow such a thing.”
“You have kept my other secrets well, Sister Margarethe. Why should you not keep another one? What the Reverend Mother doesn’t know will not burden her or me.”
“But such a thing…and right across from Sacré Coeur. You wouldn’t be able to keep something like that a secret for very long.”
Aksinya shrugged, “I did not say what I would do, yet. I simply suggested that as a possibility. You would keep my secrets, wouldn’t you, Sister Margarethe?”
Sister Margarethe raised her eyes, “Yes. Yes, you know I would.”
“Very good. Then whatever decision I make, I shall feel comfortable that my interests are guarded by those who serve me.” Aksinya turned toward Natalya, “Isn’t that so, Nata?”
Natalya glanced down, “Y…yes, Countess.”
They heard horses’ hooves on the cobblestones outside and Aksinya stood, “My cloak, please.”
Sister Margarethe moved a little too quickly. She fumbled a little and began to place the mink cloak over Aksinya’s shoulders. Natalya intercepted her and took the heavy cloak from her. She put it over Aksinya’s shoulders herself and lingered a moment too long when she tied it at Aksinya’s neck. She put her face discretely close to the side and took a deep breath.
Sister Margarethe placed the other cloak around Natalya’s shoulders. Then she answered the door.
The driver helped Aksinya and Natalya into the coupe, and the carriage took off with only a slight lurch. Sister Margarethe watched the carriage until it was out of sight.
You get a whole lot in a very tight form. This is a scene truly driven by conversation. The information that flows from the characters involved is very large. I give you the last paragraph from yesterday because I don't want you to forget it. It flows into the next piece of conversation. Natalya is guilty of something. Do you remember Aksinya's conversation with Natalya concerning secrets before. Aksinya's admonition was: don't keep any secrets from me. Natalya is keeping secrets. She knows something about Ernst. She knows something about the demon. She knows something about Sister Margarethe. There are deep secrets circling Aksinya that she does not begin to understand.
Sister Margarethe brings up the one question Aksinya has not wished to answer, but you know it is the question that burdened her--that is until she received the new book of sorcery. Watch the use of analogy. Sister Margarethe shifted the cloaks in her arms. This indicates she is changing the topic of conversation. The cloaks represent Aksinya and Natalya, but you knew that. That is why Sister Margarethe holds them so carefully. She cares for both of them. Then the Sister asks the bombshell question: “Have you decided what you are going to answer Herr von Taaffe on Monday?”
Natalya wants to know too. Remember Natalya's confession to the sleeping Aksinya. Remember her confession to the drunken Aksinya. Natalya does not want Aksinya to chose Ernst and perhaps any man. Natalya has a deep seated mistrust for men. She was used by men.
Aksinya's answer does not answer the question. Her response is gentle and proper. Then Sister Margarethe tells us and Aksinya what has bothered her all along: "I would hope that I might continue to serve you afterward.” She wants Aksinya to accept Ernst's proposal, but she wants to continue to serve her.
Aksinya's answer begins gentle and refined. Aksinya isn't interested in Ernst. She wants her house and to continue in the school. She expects to have these things (luxuria) even if engaged and even, we find, when married. Sister Margarethe is relieved and makes a logical deduction--a long engagement. This is not what Aksinya has in mind at all. Aksinya wants luxuria. She wants everything she can get from Ernst and to have everything as it is now. Her statement that she would entertain Ernst in her own house is cultural speak at the times that she would let him stay over with her--the obvious conclusion is for sex. This is why Natalya blushes and Sister Margarethe reacts as she does. Notice, that I don't have to tell you all about the culture--I let you see the culture first hand through these women and their reactions.
The conversation turns toward secrets. This brings up in our minds how much does Sister Margarethe know. If you will remember from the time of the great enchantment, Sister Margarethe has been keeping some very great secrets about Aksinya and Aksinya's actions. The Sister knows that Aksinya is a sorceress. Sister Margarethe's love for Aksinya prevents her from even correcting her young charge. Aksinya is unkind enough to bring this up. Having Ernst over to entertain Aksinya is just another secret in Aksinya's household.
Sister Margarethe warns Aksinya, but Aksinya has given herself over completely to her desire and temptation. That is why her response. She takes a promise from Sister Margarethe. It is a promise that the Sister should not give and one Aksinya should not request. Aksinya is dragging down those around her. She is like the demon. She has become just like the demon in this. Look at the Sister's response: Sister Margarethe raised her eyes, “Yes. Yes, you know I would.” She raises her eyes. She is proud to keep Aksinya's secrets. If you remember Sister Margarethe is infatuated with Aksinya. She loves Aksinya without desire.
Aksinya then turns to Natalya. She requires a promise from Natalya. We guess that Natalya is lying. She is keeping secrets for Aksinya, but she is also keeping secrets from Aksinya. The coupe arrives just in time. Sister Margarethe moves to place Aksinya's cloak over her shoulders, but remember this is the privilege of Natalya. Natalya will not give her place over to anyone. In this group, Aksinya is the idol of worship and these two worship her, but it is a perverted idol and a perverted worship.
Natalya goes through the liturgy of her worship. She breaths in the incense of Aksinya. Do you see, the incense of the demon is sulphur and a stink. The incense of Aksinya is like a breath of life for Natalya. Sister Margarethe is relegated to serving Natalya. We see Sister Margarethe's dedication. She watches the carriage until it is out of sight. Tomorrow, Aunt Brunhilda.