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. Following lunch, the court reconvenes. The presiding judge calls Natalya to the witness chair. Aksinya abjures Natalya to tell the truth...
“Yes, you must testify and ensure you tell the truth, Lady Natalya.”
Natalya nodded and presented a very worried look on her face.
Sergeant Nagel led Natalya to the witness chair.
Judge Richter put down his handkerchief, “Judges, please don’t let any of the previous conversation or actions cloud your judgment. I only allowed it because it seemed an appropriate greeting between friends.” He tried to put on a stern look, “Lady Natalya, please announce your full name to the court.”
Natalya’s voice was soft but clear, “I am the Lady Natalya Alexandrovna Obolenska.”
“What is your relationship to the Princess Aksinya.”
Natalya put her hands together, “The Count…Princess I mean, rescued me. No one else in the world would help me, but she did.”
“I was a handmaiden to a noble family in
. They treated me like a slave. The Princess rescued me from there and offered me the position of her lady-in-waiting. She gave me clothing and jewelry. She cared for me and sent me to school. She called me her friend and confidant.” Minsk
“Can you describe the events of the evening when the Princess beat you?”
“It was the evening that the Princess was supposed to deliver her answer to Herr von Taaffe.”
“Her answer to what?”
“To his proposal of marriage. Ernst von Taaffe offered to marry her and his father the Graf von Taaffe encouraged the match. I knew her answer before she gave it.”
“Did she tell you what she would answer the young man?”
“No, Ernst von Taaffe is an honorable man, but he had two very important books that belonged to the Princess. She wanted them back. I knew that no matter what happened, her desire for the books would cloud her thinking.”
“What does this have to do with the Princess beating you?”
“This is the reason she beat me.”
“What was the reason?”
Aksinya stood. Natalya stood. Half the courtroom stood. Aksinya pointed her finger, “Lady Natalya, I forbid you to tell them why I beat you.”
Father Dobrushin pulled Aksinya back into her seat, “The press has already published the reason in the papers. She announced it during the ecclesiastical trial. There is no reason for you to stop her testimony.”
Yesterday, Aksinya told Natalya to tell the truth. This worries Natalya. In any case, the scene is set to hear Natalya's testimony.
Notice how I "show" you the effect of Natalya and Aksinya's reunion on the presiding judge and judges. I show you that Judge Richter put down his handkerchief. The implication is that he was affected by their words and actions. The others were also affected, note the presiding judge instructs the other judges, and he gives Natalya a stern look.
The judge asks Natalya her name and then her relationship with Aksinya. You would expect Natalya to answer that she was Aksinya's lady-in-waiting etc. Watch carefully, instead, she tells the court, not her position in Aksinya's household, but rather what Aksinya did for her. We could have guessed this was the most important issue to Natalya. Natalya defines herself based on what Aksinya did for her--she worships Aksinya.
Then we get to the answer the judge expected, but Natalya's answer is still couched in therms of what Aksinya did, listen: "...offered me the position of her lady-in-waiting. She gave me clothing and jewelry. She cared for me and sent me to school. She called me her friend and confidant.” The judge asked a simple question and received an entire history of Aksinya, so he moves on to the events.
The events of that evening were very critical to the case. Natalya fills in all the details and becomes more detailed than the judge expected--she mentions the books. Like real life, we get to the point in a circular manner. The judge wants to go directly to the point; Natalya wants to tell the truth. This gets to the reason Aksinya beat Natalya--do you remember, Aksinya would not answer this question--this is the critical question. Aksinya does not want this answer to come out. The answer to this question will destroy Natalya and Ernst socially.
This is the reason Aksinya doesn't want anyone to answer the question. The problem is that the cat is already out of the bag. Aksinya imagines she can protect her friends--she can't. As Father Dobrushin knows and pointed out--he will save her. He might not be able to save the others, but he will save Aksinya from prison and the workhouse--if he can. Tomorrow, the reason.