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. We have arrived at the charges against Aksinya...
Judge Richter continued, “Now Bailiff, read the charges against the Princess.”
The Bailiff stepped to the front beside Aksinya and read, “Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov also known as Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna you are charged with willful assault and battery against the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska. You are further charged with engaging in deceitful loans and business practice that did result in the theft of over a hundred thousand marks sterling. The exact amounts and specific items are listed as an appendix in the court documents.”
Aksinya sat with a strange expression on her face. She stared expectantly at the Bailiff. A slight tremble shook his paper. Aksinya asked, “Is that all?”
The courtroom laughed again.
She glanced around.
Judge Richter held his hand in front of his face. After a moment, he choked, “If it isn’t enough, I suppose we could add a few more.”
Aksinya turned toward Father Dobrushin. He covered his face, “Princess, those are quite enough.”
Judge Richter gave a sigh, “Yes, I was making a joke. That is all the charges.” His voice became stern, “Princess Aksinya, do you understand the charges?”
“You must speak, Princess.”
“I do understand them, and I am sorry for them.”
Father Dobrushin whispered to her, “This is not a confession. Just answer the judge’s questions.”
“Now, listen closely, Princess Aksinya. Do you plead guilty, not guilty, or do you wish to remain silent.”
She sat up straight, “I surely am gu…”
Father Dobrushin stood, “The Princess wishes to plead not guilty.” He took a step to her side, “Please, Princess. If you plead guilty, the court will have no other recourse than to immediately sentence you. This is not a question of sin—it is a question of civil and criminal law.”
She whispered, “I don’t want to do anything wrong. Are you certain I should say not guilty? I am guilty of many wrongs.”
“If you are uncertain, just say you remain silent.”
“Very well.” Aksinya faced the judge, “Of guilt I am certain that I am guilty of many sins, but of this trial, Father Dobrushin tells me I should at least remain silent. He is my priest, and I follow his commands in this.”
So, we hear the charges. We could have guessed them. They seem almost an anticlimax. Thus Aksinya's reaction. She expected many more charges. If you remember, in the ecclesiastical trial, there were many charges. The judge's purpose is justice and not vengeance. He laughs at Aksinya's naivete. We get the point of speaking aloud again.
Aksinya understands the charges, and she is sorry for them. You know she really is sorry. Father Dobrushin has to remind her this is not a confession or an ecclesiastical trial. Next, Aksinya has to answer if she is guilty or not guilty. Father Dobrushin has to help her. She remains silent. The conversational interaction between the Father, Aksinya, and the judge is very complex and fun. These are three people where Aksinya doesn't understand at all and the judge and defender see everything that is going on. Aksinya follows Father Dobrushin's advice. If you wondered at her lack of knowledge of this type of trial, note that she if a noble. A noble trial is similar to this type of trial, but much more like an ecclesiastical trial. Tomorrow, the facts of the case.