These are transition scenes. In fact, the entire travel is a long transition scene. As I wrote before about these scenes. Their purpose in the writing is to get from Russia to Austria. The reason will become clear as the novel progresses. The demon believes he has more scope for evil in Austria and Wien specifically. My purpose, as a writer, is to let you see part of the world in WWI and tell you a little about it. Likewise, the scope for the theme is much better in Austria. As I mentioned before that will become very clear later on. Right now, we are in the process of moving Aksinya, Natalya, and Asmodeus from Hungary to Austria. The details just give us more and more information about the times and the people…
When a knock came at the door, Natalya answered it.
A woman and two kitchen girls stood there. Natalya nodded at them. Aksinya addressed them in French, “Good evening.”
The lady and the girls curtsied and ducked, but didn’t say a word. They filled the small sitting room table with many dishes and fine food. They laid out very nice china and silver. When the table had been set and filled, they all curtsied again and left.
Aksinya took a deep breath. She sat at the table. Natalya stood at her elbow. Aksinya tugged on her sleeve, “Lady Natalya, please sit with me and eat.”
“It would not be proper, Countess.”
“It might not be proper, but it would please me. We ate together all the way across Russia from Minsk to here, and you didn’t complain.”
“There is no need to be embarrassed. You will be my lady and my friend both. It would please me if you would eat with me.”
“Only in private, please mistress. I would never want to embarrass you.”
“And I would never desire to embarrass you.”
“Thank you.” Natalya guiltily slipped into a chair and tried to make herself a little lower than Aksinya.
Aksinya served Natalya a plate of food and placed a fork in her hand, “Please eat and converse with me, Lady Natalya. You are very pleasant company and a very fine lady-in-waiting.”
“Thank you,” but it was slightly muffled as Natalya demurely filled her mouth with a bite of meat.
Natalya expects to serve Aksinya completely. The demarcation of her work is absolutely clear in her mind. Aksinya is changing that slowly. The servers don’t speak French, they don’t respond. Natalya expects to serve Aksinya and eat afterwards. That is the way with servants. Aksinya has a different idea. Aksinya insists that Natalya eat with her. Aksinya makes a statement that is easy to miss. I’m certain Natalya didn’t miss it. Aksinya called Natalya her friend. This is a big deal. We will see over time how it plays out. Aksinya follows this with a lie, but we will find that lying comes easy to Aksinya. She says: “I would never desire to embarrass you.” Perhaps Aksinya does not desire to embarrass Natalya, but she plans to embarrass her as much as it takes to achieve her goals. Such is the way of Aksinya’s world. In this, she isn’t much different from the demon. Don’t you love Aksinya. She thinks first of her servants and even serves them. Alas, she is a true aristocrat. If they were all like her, they wouldn’t have died out. Tomorrow, more details of the trip to Wien and more on the demon.