They were swept along, carrying with them the curious spectators standing on the Friedrich monument. Their mouths were wide open; dust rose from the minor officials whose way to the office had been blocked, as if their clothes had been beaten. A distorted face, unknown to Diederich, shouted at him: "Here's something different! Now we are going for the Jews!"—and the face disappeared before he realized that it was Herr von Barnim. He tried to follow him, but in a big rush was thrown far across the road in front of a café, where he heard the crash of broken windows and a workman shouting: "They pushed me out of here lately with my thirty pfennig, because I didn't have a silk hat on." With him Diederich was forced in through the window, between the overturned tables, where they tripped over broken glass, crushing against one another and howling, "No more room in here! We must have air!" But still others poured in. The police pressed forward. In the middle of the street, a free passage was miraculously made, as if for a triumphant procession. Then someone cried: "There goes Emperor Wilhelm!"
Diederich found himself once more on the street. No one knew how it happened that they could suddenly move along in a solid mass the whole width of the street, and on both sides, right up to the flanks of the horse on which the Emperor sat—the Emperor himself. The people looked at him and followed. Shouting masses were dissolved and swept along. Everyone looked at him. A dark pushing mob without form, with plan, without limit, and gleaming above it a young man wearing a helmet: the Emperor. They saw. They had brought him down from his palace. They had shouted: "Bread! Work!" until he had come. Nothing had been changed, except that he was there, and yet they were marching as if to a review of the troops at Tempelhof.
On the outskirts, where the crowds were thinner, respectably dressed people were saying to each other: "Well, thank God, he knows what he wants!"
"What does he want then?"
"To show that mob who is in power! He tried treating them kindly. He even went too far in remitting sentences two years ago; they have become impertinent."
"He is certainly not afraid, you have to admit that. My word, this is an historical moment!"
Diederich listened and was thrilled. The old gentleman who had spoken turned to him. He had white side-whiskers and wore the Iron Cross.
"Young man," he said, "what our magnificent young Emperor is now doing will be taught the children one day in their schoolbooks. Wait and see."
Many people had thrust-out chests and solemn faces. The gentlemen who rode behind the Emperor kept their eyes fixed decisively in front of them, but they guided their horses through the crowd as if all these folk were extras ordered to appear in some royal spectacle. At times they glanced sideways at the public to see how the people were impressed. The Emperor was aware only of himself and his own performance. Profound seriousness turned his features to stone and his eyes glared over the thousands whom he had fascinated. He measured himself against them, he, the master by the grace of God, and they his rebellious slaves. Alone and unprotected he had dared to come among them, strong only in the sense of his mission. They might lay violent hands upon him if that were the will of the Almighty. He offered himself as sacrifice to his own sacred cause. He would show them whether God was on his side. Then they would carry away the impression of his action and the eternal memory of their own impotence!
A young man wearing a wide-brimmed hat passed near Diederich and said: "Old stuff. Napoleon in Moscow fraternizing alone with the people."
"But this is splendid!" asserted Diederich, and his voice faltered with emotion. The other shrugged his shoulders.