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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A New Novel, Part 261 The Dress is Borrowed

22 June 2011, A New Novel, Part 261 The Dress is Borrowed

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 is on trial in Wien, Austria.  Father Dobrushin tells the presiding judge to address him as Herr Lopuhin.  The preliminaries are complete and the trial begins...

“Thank you, Your Honor.  You may address me simply as Herr Lopuhin.”
Judge Richter nodded to the two men.    
After they had taken their seats, Judge Richter turned to Aksinya, “Princess, would you please take the witness seat so I may ask you some questions?”
Aksinya nodded and stood.  The entire courtroom stood, and she walked to the chair before the judges’ desk and sat.  Everyone in the courtroom sat.
Judge Richter glanced at his papers, “Princess, according to Austrian law, you are not required to be sworn in.  If your statements are not truthful, this can be held against you and may add to any civil or criminal penalty you might face.”
Aksinya nodded, “I understand.  I will tell the truth.”
“When and where were you born?”
“I was born in Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg on March 15th 1900.” 
“That means you are now nineteen and above the age of majority.  Princess what is your religion and education?”
“I am Orthodox, but I don’t know my standing in the church.”
Father Dobrushin stood, “She is confessed and communicating, a member in good standing in the Russian Orthodox Church.”
Aksinya glanced down.
Judge Richter continued, “Thank you counselor.  Princess, your education?”
“I was educated by my governess and priest.  I have only a few months of formal education.”
Father Dobrushin stood again, “The Princess speaks, reads, and writes, Latin, Greek, Russian, German, and French.  She is highly educated and is considering continuing her studies at university.”
Aksinya turned a perturbed glance at the priest, but he didn’t seem to notice.
Judge Richter nodded, “Princess, do you have any occupation other than student?”
The Judge made a mark on his paper.  He asked, “Do you have any dependents?”
“I am only dependent on others.”
The court erupted in laughter.  Aksinya glanced around nervously.  Father Dobrushin gave her an encouraging grin.
Judge Richter chuckled, “Please tell the court your current income and property.”
Aksinya took a deep breath, “I have no income at all.  I once had much property and many goods.  I left my property when the Bolsheviks murdered my family.  I left all that behind and escaped to Austria.  Here, I thought I owned a house, but I found that I had been cheated.  My goods, I brought from Russia with me, but they were all taken to pay the debts on the house, and I still do not own a house.  As far as I know, the only things that I have left are those I am wearing.”  As an afterthought, she added, “And the dress is borrowed.”
The court again filled with laughter.

Now, we will see how this trial will go forward.  In Austria, the first step in the official trail (after calling the role) is the deposition of the accused.  The presiding judge does this himself.  The defending and prosecuting attorneys may ask questions in their turns.  We can see from the beginning this has the potential to be a fair trial--certainly much more fair than the ecclesiastical trial.  The judge seems more just and Father Dobrushin is defending Aksinya.  Plus, listen to Aksinya herself.  She is so depreciating that she seems more like a tragic character than an evil planner.  Perhaps the demon didn't anticipate this.  On the other hand, if you note Father Dobrushin's new address, you will see that Aksinya's defense comes at a high cost.  The price that was paid, we will soon see. 

The witness seat in an Austrian trial is before the judges.  The accused is not sworn in.  Aksinya takes this place and the judge begins to ask her questions.  First, the judge asks her birth place and date.  this is important to determine if she is of the age of majority (therefore can be held accountable for contracts etc.) and to determine her legal status in the Empire of Austria.  By the way, the place of Aksinya's birth is the Palace where all princes and princesses of the Romanov family are generally born.

The question of religion and education are important at this time.  They determine many legal issues in law.  Primarily, it establishes the piety and social virtue of the accused.  Father Dobrushin (I use this appellation so you won't be confused) stands and ensures the court knows Aksinya's position in the Orthodox Church.

On education, Father Dobrushin again comes to her rescue and corrects her.  The next question is of occupation and dependents.  These come into play if the accused must pay fines or be incarcerated.  Aksinya's answer to her dependency causes the court to laugh.  We feel the difference in this courtroom.  Aksinya's innocence begins to bring her favor.  This is not so different an Aksinya that we know, but it is a side to her that has become her since the climax.

Last in this piece, Aksinya“And the dress is borrowed.”  Tomorrow, the trial continues.

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