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. The presiding judge found Aksinya not guilty of the fraud charges against her. He did so because her debt had already been paid. The judge then released the court for lunch. Father Dobrushin and Aksinya head for the luncheon room in the Rathaus...
Sergeant Nagel led Aksinya and Father Dobrushin into the private luncheon room within the Rathaus. They sat at a private table near the back of the chamber. Aksinya appeared completely out of place there. Her hair had not been properly brushed in weeks. Her dress was wrinkled and stained beyond the bloody crosses that marked it. It had been the dress of a drudge to begin with. She had not had a bath either—not in a long while. She glanced at Father Dobrushin in his clean and well pressed suit and stood, “I don’t belong here.”
Father Dobrushin didn’t look at her, “Sit down, now. Judge Richter sent you here so you would not have to face the reporters yet.”
She sat, “Yet?”
“When you win and are redeemed, you will have to answer some of their questions. When that happens, I suggest you keep quiet and allow me to speak for you.”
“I will win? What does that mean?”
“It means that you will be found not guilty and you will be released.”
“This is certain?”
“Nothing is certain. All I know is that I will do everything I can to save you.”
“Perhaps you are the foolish one. What do you gain from all this? I can’t pay your bill. In fact, who did pay my bills on the remaining claims?”
“You did? Why would you do that for me?”
“Right now, I want you to eat something nice and have tea the way you like it.”
“I like tea best the way Natalya makes it for me.”
Father Dobrushin smiled, “You act as though nothing happened to estrange you from anyone else in the world.”
“Because I can’t control what anyone else does. I can only control what I do or think. I learned that long before I met the demon. He just reminded me of it.”
Father Dobrushin couldn’t say anything after that. He ordered then both lunch and tea.
The most revealing conversations are many times those that have little to do with the here and now within a novel. This little scene in the luncheon room is this type of scene. You must take into account that this is pure chapter setting and scene setting. The purpose of this scene is to propel the chapter and to move the theme of the novel. So let's look at the elements of the scene and the chapter setting.
First, the scene is set by comparison. I don't need to go into great detail on the scene setting--that is narrative description, because I use a direct comparison between the place and Aksinya herself. She is the focus of the chapter and the novel. She gets the billing and she is the comparison here. I describe her clothing and appearance and that is the comparison. You can see the room and setting through this. That is the purpose and it is a dual purpose: first, you see Aksinya and second, you see the scene. I do give you a third for free--Father Dobrushin's appearance.
Father Dobrushin is all business. He simply instructs Aksinya to sit and explains why the judge sent her to the luncheon room. We know there is much more to this, but it does not need to be said. By the way, you know Aksinya is not grand standing. She is serious, but Father Dobrushin is too. Aksinya is just too unsophisticated to understand what is going on. I also use this to remind you of the reporters and to move to the point I want to make in this scene. This is the question of Aksinya's redemption.
In this scene, I use very specific vocabulary to make a point about the entire chapter. The point is that Father Dobrushin is going to save Aksinya. The bills were paid by Father Dobrushin. We guessed this--I wanted to make sure it was certain in your mind. Aksinya has nothing to offer, but still Father Dobrushin has given his wealth, expertise, and...we shall see for Aksinya.
Father Dobrushin deflects Aksinya's question about why he would do these things for her. His statement: “Right now, I want you to eat something nice and have tea the way you like it.” Allows me to bring up Natalya. Natalya is an important question and part of this chapter--remember chapter setting.
Father Dobrushin's question is one of forgiveness and acceptance. Aksinya has accepted everything in stride. It is not that she doesn't care about it, the point is that she has accepted her lot and is ready to accept any punishment. She believes she deserves great punishment and wants to be punished.
Aksinya's response is an important one. It is absolutely true and a great truth: “Because I can’t control what anyone else does. I can only control what I do or think. I learned that long before I met the demon. He just reminded me of it.” With this statement, we know Aksinya was wise, but she has reached a point where her wisdom could be a force for goodness instead of evil. That is the ultimate point--she has been and is about to be redeemed. Tomorrow, the trial continues.