They are safely in Hungary, but if you know about Hungary at this time, it is a little safer than Russia, but not much safer. The civil war Hungary encountered has not occurred yet. Asmodeus doesn’t want to delay too long. Aksinya has plans…
In the morning, Aksinya took a more leisurely bath and Natalya dressed her again in clean clothing. When Asmodeus came to the door, they had eaten and were dressed and ready to travel. He looked them over and started to leave the room.
Aksinya addressed him in French, “One moment, Asmodeus. I wish something for the trip.”
“I want you to get my small trunk. I need my mother’s red and white dress and my sewing case. The Lady Natalya can adjust that piece of clothing to me during our travels.”
The demon frowned, but bowed, “I shall retrieve them for you when we are on the train.”
“Remember, bring the trunk. There is more than one red and white dress in it.”
Already the excess clothing and items had made their way back into the demon’s chest.
“Thank you, demon.”
Asmodeus led them to the Hungarian side of the station. There they entered a very well kept and clean train. They had a private compartment but because of the reduced gauge of the rails the space was a little less than Aksinya was used to on a similar class Russian passenger carriage. She noticed, although the motion wasn’t uncomfortable, the train swayed a bit more. At lunch, they ate in a wonderful dining car. The tables were covered with white lace tablecloths. Their utensils were silver. Aksinya ate a meal of many courses with fine wine at each. A few other wealthy patrons ate in the car, but none of them appeared as finely dressed as Aksinya or Natalya. Natalya stood at Aksinya’s elbow and formally served her. Aksinya didn’t linger at her meal too long so Natalya could go to the kitchen and eat at the servant’s table there. Aksinya drank coffee and read a book until she was certain Natalya had time to eat then she called for her.
When they returned to their compartment, Asmodeus was gone, but the small trunk lay on one of the seats. Aksinya smiled, “Now, Lady Natalya, I wish to give you some very specific instructions about my dresses.”
Natalya glanced expectantly at her.
“I need you to fit all my mother and sister’s dresses to me. I will also have you fit some of my sister’s dresses to you. You are almost her size. But there is something very important I need you to do when you fit them.”
“I need you to sew a cross at each sleeve, shoulder, the collar and every two feet along the hem.”
“Yes, a small cross. You may make it the same color as the material so it is not too noticeable.”
Natalya licked her lips and the corners of her mouth turned up, “Is this something to do with the enchantments?”
“Yes,” Aksinya lied.
“And you will allow me to also have them on my clothing?”
“Yes, especially on your clothing.”
Natalya put her hands over her mouth then slowly let them down again. She was breathless, “Thank you, mistress.”
“You needn’t mention this to Asmodeus, it is none of his business. I also don’t want him to handle my clothing. Only you are allowed to do that.”
Natalya nodded excitedly.
“Ensure you pack the dresses yourself in the trunk or the wardrobes. That way only you will touch them.”
Natalya nodded, “Yes, mistress.”
Aksinya sat next to the window. She cleared her mind and picked up her book. She glanced out of the window at the passing fields and woods and smiled.
Aksinya has been planning for a while. She takes a bath, and I don’t have to tell you, she thinks a lot while she is bathing. Aksinya addresses Asmodeus in French because Natalya can understand it and he warned them against Russian. That’s when Aksinya springs her plan. She wants her sewing case, her small trunk, and one of her mother’s dresses to fit. Aksinya wants the chest so she can have Natalya fix the clothing.
The train in Hungary is very nice and the demon puts them in the highest class of passage. There is a dining carriage. Natalya serves.
When Aksinya gets her trunk, sewing things, and the dresses, she starts Natalya on the work right away. Notice how easily Aksinya lies. She manipulates Natalya so easily. Natalya is somewhat easy to manipulate–this is an important point. Aksinya thinks crosses will prevent the demon from being able to remove her clothing and protect her person. With this protection, she believes she might be able to resist his demands a little more next time. It is also a test. She also “allows” Natalya to put the crosses on her clothing. Do you see how much this pleases Natalya?
The second instruction–only you may handle my clothing. The reason for this is to keep it out of the hands of the demon. If he discovers about the crosses, then Aksinya’s plan will be ruined. This isn’t that unusual in the time. A house steward might be given the responsibility of the master’s clothing. A lady-in-waiting a similar responsibility about her mistress’s clothing. It comes out of the responsibility for very expensive clothing.
The kicker at the end of this chapter is subtle and relates to the earlier points. Aksinya smiles because her plans are made and Natalya is carrying them out. She can read in peace–Aksinya is a born leader. Tomorrow, we start chapter 5.