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's secular trial is about to begin. Aksinya and Father Dobrushin are in the courtroom in the Rathaus in Wien. They are discussing more than the case. Father Dobrushin is trying to prepare. Aksinya wants to know why Father Dobrushin is helping her...
“So I guessed.” Father Dobrushin pulled a stack of papers out of his briefcase, “Princess Aksinya, I intend to defend you to the best of my ability. I don’t wish you to go to prison or the workhouse.”
She crossed her arms, “I asked before, why would you care?”
He folded his hands, “Because you think the way you do, that is difficult to explain in a way you might understand. A normal person would not ask why, they would simply be grateful for the assistance.”
“Do you think I am insane?”
Father Dobrushin took her hands, “Look at me, Aksinya.”
She raised her eyes to his.
“I do not think you are insane.”
“Then would you tell me why you are helping me?”
He laughed, “You are a Russian Princess. That should be enough for any honest Russian.”
“Father Makar doesn’t think so. Does that mean he is not an honest Russian?”
Father Dobrushin drew in a deep breath, “Father Makar is an honest Russian, but he thinks your problems are all mental.”
“If they are all mental, doesn’t that mean he should show me even greater sympathy?”
Father Dobrushin smiled, “Sometimes you astound me.”
“Is that good? Is that why you are helping me?”
He cleared his throat, “I am helping you because you are a Russian and a refugee.”
“I know you have helped many refugees, Ekaterina told me, but is that the only reason?”
“You confessed to Christ through me. Since that time I have been determined to help you.”
Aksinya smiled, “You are my priest and confessor. I am glad you haven’t given up on me.” She glanced away, “Ekaterina has also been a great help to me,” she finished quickly, “but I am glad she is not here to see my shame.” She brought her eyes back to Father Dobrushin, “Do you love me like she loves me? Do you think she loves me like a friend now? Is that why you are helping me?”
“About that, you’ll have to ask the Matushka. She does love you, and I love you. I’m not certain I am your friend, but I would like to be.”
“Because I astound you?”
“That and many other things.” Father Dobrushin pulled out a fountain pen and began to organize his papers.
Father Dobrushin is very straightforward. He does not wish her to go to prison or the workhouse. He will defend her. Do you remember that Aksinya wished to be punished and she wishes to lose this trial just as she lost the ecclesiastical trial. There is much more riding on the secular trial. Where the ecclesiastical judge might excommunicate you (as he did Aksinya), a secular trial can take away your liberty, property, and life. The ecclesiastical trial ruined many, the secular trial can put Aksinya in prison.
The reason for Aksinya's questions is that she doesn't believe she can be defended. She knows she is guilty. We kind of imagine that she is ignorant of both the gravity of the trial and of her own guilt, but this is something we shall see during the trial.
Father Dobrushin implies that Aksinya does not think like a normal person--we knew that. We realized that her way of thinking was off. She is not insane--we know this. Aksinya knows she is not insane. Father Dobrushin's answer is very important to Aksinya. There is a play on words here. Father Dobrushin obviously does not want to tell his full reason for helping Aksinya.
The logic Aksinya uses in speaking about Father Makar, her own sanity, and Father Makar's attitude toward her is exact. She used this kind of logic with the Fraus and the inquisitors. Aksinya isn't even aware that she thinks so precisely. Father Dobrushin taps at her intellect and finds she is very knowledgeable and intelligent. Also, that she is very perceptive. This leads to the next important topic, that is about love. Like Father Dobrushin, we are not exactly certain what Aksinya means. We know she doesn't understand human love very well. We don't see confusion in her words, but we feel the lack of understanding in them. Listen to Father Dobrushin's acknowledgment: "She does love you, and I love you. I’m not certain I am your friend, but I would like to be.” There is a foreshadowing in this and an important connection. Father Dobrushin hides behind his comment: “That and many other things.”
We realize there is much between Aksinya and Father Dobrushin that has not been said and that will not be said here. We also realize that within the courtroom, much is occurring that is outside of the full understanding of Aksinya or Father Dobrushin. Tomorrow, the trial begins.