General von Brebern was present at them all, but only, as Fraulein von Rhaden said, 'to blush like the rose' in profoundest slumber, a habit which always afforded a subject for merriment to Fraulein von Stahl, a very lively and beautiful woman, when each night I accompanied the two court ladies from the spacious salons along endless corridors and staircases to their distant apartments.
Here, in addition to Fraulein von Rhaden, I met the lady next to her in rank, Fraulein von Stahl, as well as a genial old gentleman, who was introduced to me as General von Brebern, for many years one of the Grand Duchess's closest friends.
To this reading the Grand Duchess Marie was also induced to come a very stately and still beautiful daughter of the Tsar Nicholas, who was notorious for the passion she had shown throughout her life. As to the impression made upon this lady by my poem, Fraulein von Rhaden only told me that she had been seriously alarmed lest Hans Sachs might end by marrying Eva.
The long and weary road brought me at last to the frontier station of Wirballen, where I received a telegram from Fraulein von Rhaden: 'Not too rash. This was in reference to a few lines I had left behind for her, and it conveyed quite enough to revive my doubts as to the wisdom of carrying out my house-building plans. I reached Berlin without further delay, and at once made for Bulow's house.
Fraulein von Rhaden, to whom I again applied, felt she must vigorously dissuade me from any attempt to visit St. Petersburg, in the first place because, owing to the military disturbances in the Polish provinces, I should find the route blocked, and secondly because, roughly speaking, I should attract no notice in the Russian capital.
I now set about paying my farewell calls, one of which was on Fraulein von Rhaden, who distinguished herself by the warmth of her sympathy and interest.
But I could not regard this assumption as justified, unless my wish to be invited for some months every year to St. Petersburg for renewed activity there met with a ready response. On this point I was enlightened in a more detailed letter from Fraulein von Rhaden following the above telegram, in which she told me on no account to rely upon this invitation.
With great circumspection my unseen protectress had prepared the way for my presentation to the Grand Duchess Helene. I was instructed, in the first place, to make use of a recommendation from Standhartner to Dr. Arneth, the Grand Duchess's private physician, whom he had known in Vienna, in order through him to be introduced to Fraulein von Rhaden, her most confidential lady-in-waiting.
On discovering this friendly interest, I could not help regretting that the connection thus formed was not likely to have more stable and profitable results. I addressed a petition through Fraulein von Rhaden to the Grand Duchess, praying that she would permit me to come to St.
Fraulein von Rhaden appeared to have made extraordinary efforts on my behalf, which for the present resulted in the Grand Duchess expressing a wish that I should make her better acquainted with the text of my Nibelungen Ring.