Schrotter shook his head.
“If that were right, an adult must in all cases give his life to save a child, because he might grow to be a Newton, or a Goethe, and above all, because the child is the future, and that must always taken precedence of the past and the present. But to a mature man that is not practicable. There are no more secrets. Mankind knows that the probable is planted within his own being. Do not seek to find additional reasons for a fact which has already sprung up from unknown forces. It was sympathy which impelled you, the natural feeling for a fellow-creature. And that is right and natural.”
Wilhelm looked at Schrotter gratefully as he affectionately grasped his hand.
IT WAS NOT TO BE.
The sun streamed down on Berlin from a cloudless sky, and all the life of the town gathered in a confused, restless throng in Unter den Linden; but the bustle on this hot summer day, June 16, 1871, had quite a different character from that of eleven months before. And if any one could have listened to it all with closed eyes, he might have distinguished a joyful excitement in the air, in the laughing of children and girls, in the lively gossip of the men; and from all these sounds of joy and chatter he might have detected the signs that overstrained nerves were now relaxed after long hours of weary suspense. What hundreds of thousands had wished and hoped for on that Friday in July had now come to its glorious fulfillment, and Berlin, as the proud capital of a newly-established empire, was giving a welcome home to the army. They had at last found the answer to Arndt’s ill-natured question about the German Fatherland, and had set the great Charles’ imperial crown on the head of their bold Hohenzollern king.
On one of the raised platforms near the Brandenburger Thor were Wilhelm and Dr. Schrotter. The former had renounced the privilege which belonged to him, as officer in the Reserves, and moreover, as an example, had not claimed his position among those who were wounded in the war, still however wearing his uniform. Had he consulted his own inclinations, he would not have come to see this triumphant entrance, as he took very little pleasure in the noisy enthusiasm of crowds. A great deal of actual vulgarity is always exhibited on these occasions, mingled with some real nobility of feeling. Counter-jumpers and work-girls secure comfortable positions from which to see the processions, groups of calculating shopkeepers with advertisements of pictures and medals of hateful ugliness speculate on the generosity of the crowd, and others push with all the force of their bodily weight to obtain and keep the front places for themselves. Frau Ellrich had sent Wilhelm two tickets, hoping that he would make use of them. Dr. Schrotter wished to see the spectacle, so Wilhelm asked his new friend to go with him.