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.
Father Dobrushin and Aksinya have decided to marry so that they can be rid of the demon. Aksinya asks Father Makar to marry them. Ekaterina encourages her husband...
Ekaterina put her hand on Father Makar’s, “Makaruska, do you really wish them to be wed anywhere but here? They intend to do this. You know Dobrushin’s purpose. Grant them this small gift. I shall witness and you shall witness. Anything else would be wrong. You know that.”
Father Makar sighed, “I do understand. I just do not want to encourage this foolishness.”
Ekaterina stared at him, “This is not a sin. There is nothing wrong with marriage or marrying them. She is a Princess. He is the son of a Count. Their ranks are unmatched but acceptable. They would not come here together like this if they did not both agree. Do this for them and that will be the end of it all.”
“The end of it all?” asked Aksinya around Dobrushin.
“The end of these matters that have plagued Father Makar since you came to the Ecclesia last year.”
Aksinya turned them a curious look.
Dobrushin quickly continued, “Please, Father Makar, marry us and that will be the last favor I ask of you. We will go, and you will likely not see us again.”
“I will marry you, but you will not stay under this roof any more. I told you that when you left before. That means I will not untie your crowns either.”
“I understand. That was the agreement we made.”
“Come then. Quickly.”
They stood. Dobrushin helped Aksinya take off her new coat. Ekaterina kissed Aksinya’s cheeks. She brushed Aksinya’s lengthening hair. Then they entered the Ecclesia together
We have seen a lot that be knew about Father Makar, but we also discovered much that we didn't. Much of this has been implied but not shown directly. In this conversation, we learn about reasons and times and estrangement.
Ekaterina wants Father Makar to marry them--she doesn't see any harm in it. She may or may not know what Dobrushin and Aksinya plan. We get some indications that both Father Makar and Ekaterina know. I don't give you this insight. Ekaterina strongly gives the impression that they know. She says: "You know Dobrushin’s purpose. Grant them this small gift."
The completion of this idea is then: “I do understand. I just do not want to encourage this foolishness.” Ekaterina makes the argument for Aksinya and Dobrushin. Then we get a repeat of information you might have wondered about. Ekaterina says it clearly here. To the church and to these people, the noble ranks are still important.
Watch Aksinya's response. She is not cowering behind Dobrushin, but he is her cover and her protection. She has to speak around him to get to Makar and Ekaterina. Then Ekaterina tells them all that Makar has had a problem with all this since Aksinya showed up at their door. It was the door Dobrushin opened for Aksinya.
Father Makar relents with Dobrushin's request--he begs, but Father Makar makes clear, he doesn't want Dobrushin and Aksinya to remain in the rectory. He knows what is going on and will not give them the protection of the Ecclesia against the demon. The demon, in Makar's mind is imaginary after all. Ekaterina isn't sure what to believe. She fights for the marriage, but not for the right to stay. This is unsaid and not that important to the plot, but it is the unspoken undercurrent here.
The reference to untying the crowns refers to the crowns that are placed on the heads of a couple when they are married. In the past, they wore these crowns for a week and at a ceremony in the church, their crowns were untied. This was likely due to the fact that the crowns were commonly owned by the church and loaned for the wedding. Today, most just buy their own crowns. The ceremony of untying the crowns is still done in many Orthodox churches. There is an important metaphor here. Though Aksinya and Dobrushin will be married, their crowns will not be untied. They will be united in this permanently. This was intentional. Father Makar means that he will not lend the crowns to them for the week--we see in it, that their crowns will be permanent. This is a subtheme in the book--that of marriage and everything around it.
There is more to this than anyone is speaking. Listen to Dobrushin: “I understand. That was the agreement we made.” Makar and Dobrushin already worked this out. Father Makar needed convincing again. Perhaps he thought Aksinya would be convicted by the courts and Dobrushin would not have any chance of marrying her. Again, there is much that was not said here.
Now, look at the preparation: Dobrushin helped Aksinya take off her new coat. Ekaterina kissed Aksinya’s cheeks. She brushed Aksinya’s lengthening hair. Then they entered the Ecclesia together. This is all a metaphor in these simple statements. Aksinya had not taken off her coat. He takes it off her. This is the simple welcoming to the Ecclesia. It also is significant that he bought it for her, and that he took it off her. Do you remember her dress? It is white wool--a dress suitable for a virgin bride. Then Ekaterina kisses Aksinya. Aksinya was welcomed before, but this is official. It is the welcome of one bride to another. Ekaterina brushes Aksinya's hair. You know the hair image. Aksinya's contract was with the demon--now Aksinya will enter into a contract with Dobrushin. There is great power in this. Note, the hair is lengthening. Tomorrow, the marriage begins.