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a room at my place. My father's old house is nearly
empty ; there's a large dining-room on the ground
floor

Petra {laughing). Oh, thank you very much —
but nothing will come of it.

Hovstad. Oh no ! I fancy Miss Petra will rather
go in for journalism. By the way, have you had time
to look into the English novel you promised to trans-
late for us ?

Petra. Not yet But you shall have it in good
time.

(Dr. Stockmann enters from his room, with the
letter open in his hand.)

Dr. Stockmann {flourishing the letter). Ilcre'g
news, I can tell you, that'll wake up the town !

Billing. News ?

Mrs. Stockmann. What news ?



Act I.] An Enemy of the People. 123

Dr. Stockman n. A great discovery, Katrine.

Hovstad. What ?

Mrs. Stockmann. Made by you ?

Dr. Stockmann. Yes — by me! {Walks up and
down.) Now let them go on accusing me of fads
and crack-brained notions. But they'll not dare to
Ha-ha ! I know they won't.

Petra. Father, do tell us what it is.

Dr. Stockmann. Well well, give me time, and
you shall hear all about it. If only Peter were here
now! This just shows how we men can go about
forming judgments like the blindest moles

Hovstad. What do you mean, doctor ?

Dr. Stockmann {standing beside the table). Isn't
it generally supposed that our town is healthy ?

Hovstad. Of course.

Dr. Stockmann. Indeed a quite exceptionally
healthy place, — a place to be confidently recom-
mended, both to invalids and people in health

Mrs. Stockmann. My dear Thomas

Dr. Stockmann. And certainly we haven't failed
to recommend and belaud it. I've written again and
again, both in the Messenger and in pamphlets

Hovstad. Well, what then ?

Dr. Stockmann. These Baths, that we've called
the pulse of the town, its spinal nerve, and — and the
devil knows what else

BILLING. "The town's palpitating heart," I
was once moved to call them in a convivial
moment

Dr. Stockmann. Yes, I daresay. But do you
know what they really are, these mighty, magnificent,



124 An Enemy of the People. [Act I.

belauded Baths, that have cost so much money — do
you know what they are ?

HOVSTAD. No, what are they ?

Mrs. Stockmann. Do tell us.

Dr. Stockmann. Simply a pestiferous hole.

Petra. The Baths, father ?

Mrs. Stockmann {at the same time). Our Baths !

HOVSTAD {also at the same time). But, Doctor !

Billing. Oh, it's incredible !

Dr. Stockmann. I tell you the whole place is a
poisonous whited-sepulchre ; noxious in the highest
degree! All that filth up there in the Mill Dale, with
its horrible stench, taints the water in the feed-pipes
of the Baths ; and the same confounded poisonous
refuse oozes out by the beach

HOVSTAD. Where the sea-baths are ?

Dr. Stockmann. Exactly.

HOVSTAD. But how are you so sure of all this,
Doctor ?

Dr. Stockmann. I've investigated the whole
thing as conscientiously as possible. I've long had
my doubts about it Last year we had some extra-
ordinary cases of illness among the patients — both
typhoid and gastric attacks

Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, I remember.

Dr. Stockmann. At the time we thought the
visitors had brought the infection with them; but
afterwards — last winter — I began to question that
So I set about testing the water as well as I could.

Mrs. Stockmann. It was that you were working
so hard at !

Dr. Stockmann. Yes, you may well say I've



Act I.] An Enemy of the People. 125

worked, Katrine. But here, you know, I hadn't the
necessary scientific appliances ; so I sent samples
both of our drinking-water and of our sea-water to
the University for exact analysis by a chemist.

HOVSTAD. And you've received his report ?

Dr. STOCKMANN {showing letter). Here it is.
And it proves beyond dispute the presence of
putrifying organic matter in the water — millions of
infusoria. It's absolutely noxious to health, whether
used internally or externally.

Mrs. Stockman n. What a blessing you found it
out in time !

Dr. Stockman n. Yes, you may well say that.

HOVSTAD. And what do you intend to do now,
Doctor ?

Dr. Stockman n. Why, to set things right, of
course.

HOVSTAD. Do you think that can be done ?

Dr. Stockmann. It must be done. Else the
whole Baths are useless, ruined. But there's no fear.
I'm quite clear as to what is required.

Mrs. Stockmann. But, my dear Thomas, why
should you have made such a secret of all this ?

Dr. Stockmann. Would you have had me rush
all over the town and chatter about it before I was
quite certain ? No, thanks ! I'm not so mad as that.

Petra. But to us at home

Dr. Stockmann. I couldn't say a word to a
living soul. But to-morrow you may look in at the
Badger's

Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, Thomas !

Dr. Stockmann. Well well, at your grand-



T26 An Enemy of the People. [Act I.

father's. The old fellow will be astonished! lie
thinks I'm not quite right in my head — yes, and
plenty of others think the same, I've noticed. But
now these good people shall see — yes, they shall see
now ! ( Walks up and down rubbing his hands.) What
a stir there'll be in the town, Katrine ! Just think
of it ! All the water-pipes will have to be re-
laid.

HOVSTAD {rising). All the water-pipes ?

Dr. STOCKMANN. Why, of course. The intake is
too low down ; it must be moved much higher up.

PETRA. So you were right, after all.

Dr. Stockman n. Yes, do you remember, Petra?
I wrote against it when they were beginning the
works. But then no one would listen to me. Now,
you may be sure, I'll give them my full broadside —
for of course I've prepared a statement for the Direc-
tors ; it's been lying there ready a whole week ; I've
only been waiting for this report. {Points to letter.)
But now they shall have it at once. {Goes into his
room and returns with a packet of papers?) See !
Four closely-written sheets. And I'll enclose the
report. A newspaper, Katrine ! Get me something
to wrap them up in. There — that's it. Give it to —

to (Stamps.) What the devil's her name ? Give

it to the girl, I mean, and tell her to take it at once
to the Burgomaster.

(Mrs. Stockman n goes out with packet through
the dining-room.)

Petra. What do you think Uncle Peter will say,
father ?

DR. STOCKMAN N. What should he say? He's



Act I.] An Enemy of the People. 127

bound to be pleased at the discovery of so important
a fact.

HOVSTAD. I suppose you'll let me put a short
notice of your discovery in the Messenger.

Dr. STOCKMANN. Yes, I shall be very glad if you
will.

HOVSTAD. It's highly desirable that the public
should know about it as soon as possible.

Dr. Stockman n. Yes, certainly.

Mrs. Stockman n (returning). She's gone with it.

Billing. Strike me dead if you won't be the first
man in the town, Doctor.

Dr. Stockman n (walks up and down in high glee).
Oh, nonsense ! After all, I've done no more than my
duty. I've been a lucky treasure-hunter, that's all.
But all the same

BILLING. Hovstad, don't you think the town
ought to do homage to Dr. Stockmann in a torch-
light procession ?

Hovstad. I shall certainly propose it.

BILLING. And I'll talk it over with Aslaksen.

Dr. Stockmann. No, dear friends ; let all such
claptrap alone. I won't hear of anything of the sort.
And if the Directors want to raise my salary, I won't
accept it. I tell you, Katrine, I will not accept it.

Mrs. Stockmann. Quite right, Thomas.

Petra (raising her glass). Your health, father.

Hovstad and Billing. Your health, your health,
Doctor !

HORSTER (touching glasses with the DOCTOR). I
wish you nothing but joy of your discovery.

Dr. Stockmann. Thanks, thanks, my dear



128 An Enemy of the People. [Act I.

friends. I can't tell you how happy I am ! Oh,

what a blessing it is to feel that you've deserved
well of your native town and your fellow-citizens.
Hurrah, Katrine !

{He puts both his arms round her neck, and
whirls her round with him. MRS. STOCKMAN N
screams and struggles. A burst of laughter,
applause, and cheers for the DOCTOR- T/ie boys
thrust their heads in at the door.)



Act II.] An Enemy of the People. 129



Act Second.

(The "Doctors sitting-room. The dining-room door is closed.
Morning.)

Mrs. Stockman n {enters from the dining-room with
a sealed letter in her hand, goes to the first door on the
right, and peeps in). Are you there, Thomas ?

Dr. Stockmann {within). Yes, I've just come in.
(Enters?) What is it ?

Mrs. Stockmann. A letter from your brother.
(Hands him the letter?)

Dr. Stockmann. Ah! let's see. (Opens the
etivelope and reads?) " The MS. sent me is returned
herewith " {Reads on, muttering?) Hm !

Mrs. Stockmann. Well, what does he say ?

Dr. Stockmann {putting the paper in his pocket).
Nothing ; only that he'll come up himself about
mid-day.

Mrs. Stockmann. Then be sure you remember
to stop at home.

Dr. Stockmann. Oh, I can easily manage that ;
I've finished my morning's work.

Mrs. Stockmann. I'm very curious to know
how he takes it.

Dr. Stockmann. You'll see he won't be over
pleased that it's I, and not he himself, that have made
the discovery.

VOL. II. 9



130 An Enemy of the People. [Act II.

Mrs. Stockman n. Ah, that's just what I'm
afraid of.

Dr. Stockmann. Of course at bottom he'll be
glad. But still — Peter is damnably unwilling that
any one but himself should do anything for the good
of the town.

Mrs. Stockmann. Do you know, Thomas, I
think you might stretch a point, and share the honour
with him. Couldn't you make out that it was he that
put you on the track ?

Dr. Stockmann. By all means, for aught I care.

If only I can get things put straight, I

{Old MORTEN KlIL peeps in through the anteroo?n
door, looks round inquiringly, and asks slyly.)

Morten Kiil. Is it — is it true ?

Mrs. Stockmann (going towards him). Father,
is that you ?

Dr. Stockmann. Hallo, father-in-law ! good
morning, good morning.

Mrs. Stockmann. But do come in.

Morten Kiil. Yes, if it's true; if not, I'm off again.

Dr. Stockmann. If what is true ?

Morten Kiil. This business about the water-
works. Now, is it true ?

Dr. Stockmann. Why, of course it is. But how
did you come to hear of it.

Morten Kiil {coming in). Petra looked in on
her way to the school

Dr. Stockmann. Oh, did she?

Morten Kiil. Ay ay — and she told me I

thought she was only making game of me ; but that's
not like Petra either.



Act II.] An Enemy of the People. 131

Dr. STOCKMANN. No, indeed ; how could you
think so?

MORTEN KlIL. Oh, you can never be sure of
anybody. You may be made a fool of before you
know where you are. So it is true, after all ?

Dr. STOCKMANN. Most certainly it is. Do sit
down, father-in-law. {Forces him down on the sofa.)
Now isn't it a real blessing for the town ?

Morten Kiil {suppressing his laughter). A bless-
ing for the town ?

Dr. STOCKMANN. Yes, that I made the discovery
in time

Morten Kiil {as before). Yes yes yes; but I
could never have believed you'd have played your
very own brother such a trick.

Dr. Stockmann. Such a trick !

Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, my dear father

MORTEN Kiil {resting his hands and chin on the top
of his stick and winking slyly at the DOCTOR). What
was it again ? Wasn't it that some animals had got
into the water-pipes ?

Dr. Stockmann. Yes ; infusorial animals.

MORTEN KlIL. And any number of these animals
had got in, Petra said ; an enormous lot.

Dr. Stockmann. Certainly; hundreds of thousands
of them.

Morten Kiil. But no one can see them — isn't
that so ?

Dr. Stockmann. Quite right; no one can see them.

MORTEN KlIL {with a quiet, chuckling laugh). I'll
be damned if that isn't the best thing I've heard of
you yet



132 An Enemy of the People. [Act II.

Dr. Stockmann. What do you mean?

Morten Kiil. But you'll never in this world
make the Burgomaster take in anything of the sort

Dr. Stockmann. Well, that we'll see.

Morten Kiil. Do you really think he'll be so
crazy ?

Dr. Stockmann. I hope the whole town will be
so crazy.

Morten Kiil. The whole town! Well, I don't
say but it may. But it serves them right ; it'll teach
them a lesson. They wanted to be so much cleverer
than we old fellows. They hounded me out of the
Town Council. Yes ; I tell you they hounded me
out like a dog, that they did. But now it's their turn.
Just you keep up the game with them, Stockmann.

Dr. Stockmann. Yes, but, father-in-law

Morten Kiil. Keep it up, I say. {Rising.) If
you can make the Burgomaster and his friends
swallow all that, I'll give a hundred crowns straight
away to the poor.

Dr. Stockmann. That's good of you.

Morten Kiil. Of course I've little enough to
throw away ; but if you manage that, I'll certainly
give the poor fifty crowns at Christmas.
(HOVSTAD enters from a?iteroo?n.)

HOVSTAD. Good morning ! {Pausing.) Oh ! I
beg your pardon

Dr. Stockmann. Not at all. Come in, come in.

Morten Kiil (chuckling again). He ! Is he in
it too ?

HOVSTAD. What do you mean ?

Dr. Stockmann. Yes, of course he's in it.



Act II.] An Enemy of the People. 133

Morten KllL. I might have known it ! It's to
go into the papers. Ah ! you're the one, Stockmann !
Think of what I've been saying. Now I'm off.

Dr. Stockmann. Oh no! Stop a little, father-
in-law.

Morten Kiil. No, I'm off now. Play them all
the tricks you can. Deuce take me but you shan't
lose by it.

{He goes, Mrs. STOCKMANN accompanying him?)

Dr. Stockmann {laughing). What do you

think ? The old fellow doesn't believe a word

of all this about the water-works.

HOVSTAD. Was that what he ?

Dr. Stockmann. Yes ; that was what we were
talking about And perhaps you've come on the
same business ?

HOVSTAD. Yes. Have you a moment to spare,
Doctor ?

Dr. Stockmann. As many as you like, my dear
fellow.

Hovstad. Have you heard anything from the
Burgomaster ?

Dr. Stockmann. Not yet. He'll be here presently.

Hovstad. I've been thinking over the matter
since last evening.

Dr. Stockmann. Well ?

Hovstad. To you, as a doctor and a man of
science, this business of the water-works is an isolated
affair. I fancy it hasn't occurred to you that a good
many other things are bound up with it ?

Dr. Stockmann. Yes? — how? Let's sit down,
my dear fellow. No — there, on the sofa.



134 An Enemy of the People. [Act II.

(HOVSTAD sits on sofa; the DOCTOR in an easy-
chair on the otJier side of the table?)

Dr. Stockmann. Well, so you think ?

HOVSTAD. You said yesterday that the water is
polluted by impurities in the soil

Dr. Stockmann. Yes, undoubtedly; the mischief
comes from that poisonous swamp up in the Mill Dale.

HOVSTAD. Excuse me, Doctor, but I think it
comes from quite another swamp.

Dr. Stockmann. What swamp may that be ?

HOVSTAD. The swamp in which our whole
municipal life is rotting.

Dr. Stockmann. The devil, Mr. Hovstad ! What
notion is this you've got hold of?

Hovstad. All the affairs of the town have
gradually drifted into the hands of a pack of
bureaucrats.

Dr. Stockmann. Come now, they're not all
bureaucrats.

Hovstad. No ; but those who aren't are the
friends and adherents of those who are. We're
entirely governed by a ring of wealthy men, men of
old family and position in the town.

Dr. Stockmann. Yes, but they're also men of
ability and insight

HOVSTAD. Did they show ability and insight
when they laid the water-pipes where they are ?

Dr. Stockmann. No ; that was a piece of
stupidity, of course. But that'll be set right now.

HOVSTAD. Do you think it'll go so smoothly?

Dr. Stockmann. Well, smoothly or not, it'll have
to be done.



Act II.] An Enemy of the People. 135

HOVSTAD. Yes, if the press exerts its influence.

Dr. STOCKMANN. Not at all necessary, my dear
fellow; I'm sure my brother

HOVSTAD. Excuse me, Doctor, but I must tell
you that I think of taking the matter up.

Dr. Stockmann. In the paper?

Hovstad. Yes. When I took over the People's
Messenger, I was determined to break up this ring
of obstinate old blockheads who hold everything in
their hands.

Dr. Stockmann. But you told me yourself what
came of it. You nearly ruined the paper.

HOVSTAD. Yes, we had to draw in our horns then,
that's true enough. The whole Bath scheme might
have fallen through if these men had been sent about
their business. But now the Baths are an accom-
plished fact, and we can get on without these august
personages.

Dr. Stockmann. Get on without them, yes ; but
still we owe them much.

Hovstad. The debt shall be amply acknowledged.
But a journalist of my democratic tendencies can't let
such an opportunity slip through his fingers. We
must explode the tradition of official infallibility.
That rubbish must be got rid of, like every other
superstition.

Dr. Stockmann. I'm with you with all my heart,
Mr. Hovstad. If it's a superstition, away with it.

Hovstad. I should be sorry to attack the
Burgomaster, as he's your brother. But I know you
think with me — the truth before all other con-
siderations.



136 An Enemy of the People. [Act II

Dr. Stockmann. Why, of course. {Vehemently.)

But then— ! but then !

Hovstad. You mustn't think ill of me. I'm
neither more self-interested nor more ambitious than
other men.

Dr. STOCKMANN. Why, my dear fellow, who says
you are ?

HOVSTAD. I come of humble folk, as you know,
and I've had occasion to see what the lower classes
really require. And that is to have a share in the
direction of public affairs, Doctor. That's what
develops ability and knowledge and self-respect

Dr. Stockmann. I understand that perfectly.

HOVSTAD. Yes ; and I think a journalist incurs a
heavy responsibility when he neglects an opportunity
of helping to emancipate the downtrodden masses. 1
know well enough that our oligarchy will denounce
me as an agitator, and so forth ; but what do I care ?
If only my conscience is clear, I

Dr. Stockmann. Just so, just so, my dear Mr.

Hovstad. But still — deuce take it ! {A knock at

the door.) Come in !

(ASLAKSEN, the printer, appears at the door of the
anteroom. He is humbly but neatly dressed in
black t wearing a white necktie slightly crumpled,
and carrying gloves and a silk hat.)

ASLAKSEN {bowing). I beg pardon, Doctor, for
making so bold

Dr. Stockmann {rising). Hallo! If it isn't Mr.
Aslaksen !

ASLAKSEN. Yes, it's me, Doctor.

HOVSTAD {rising). Do you want me, Aslaksen?



Act II.] An Enemy of the People. 137

AsLAKSEN. No, not at all. I didn't know you
were here. No, it's the Doctor himself

Dr. Stockman n. Well, what can I do for you?

ASLAKSEN. Is it true what Mr. Billing says,
that you're going to get us a better set of water-
works ?

Dr. Stockman n. Yes, for the Baths.

ASLAKSEN. Of course, of course. Then I just
looked in to say that I'll back up the movement with
all my might

Hovstad {to the Doctor). You see !

Dr. Stockmann. I'm sure I thank you heartily ;
but

ASLAKSEN. It'll do you no harm to have us
middle-class men at your back. We now form what
you may call a compact majority in the town — when
we want to, that's to say. And it's always well to
have the majority with you, Doctor.

Dr. Stockmann. No doubt, no doubt; but I
can't conceive that any special measures will be
necessary. I should think in so clear and straight-
forward a matter

ASLAKSEN. Yes, but all the same, it can do no
harm ; I know the local authorities well. The powers
that be are not over ready to adopt suggestions
from outsiders. So I think it wouldn't be amiss
if we made some sort of a demonstration.

Hovstad. I think so too.

Dr. Stockmann. A demonstration, you say?
But how do you mean to demonstrate ?

ASLAKSEN. Of course with great moderation,
Doctor. I'm always in favour of moderation; for



138 An Enemy of the People. [Act II.

moderation is a citizen's first virtue — at least that's
my way of thinking.

Dr. STOCKMANN. We all know that, Mr.
Aslaksen.

ASLAKSEN. Yes, I think my moderation is gener-
ally recognised. And this affair of the water-works is
very important for us small middle-class men. The
Baths bid fair to become a little gold-mine for the
town. We'll all have to live by the Baths, especially
we householders. We want to support the Baths all
we can ; and as I'm Chairman of the Householders'
Association

Dr. Stockmann. Well ?

ASLAKSEN. And as I'm an active worker for the
Temperance 1 Society — of course you know, Doctor,
that I'm a temperance man ?

Dr. Stockmann. To be sure, to be sure.

Aslaksen. Well, you'll understand that I come
in contact with a great many people. And as I'm
known to be a prudent and law-abiding citizen, as
you yourself admitted, Doctor, I have a certain
influence in the town, and hold some power in my
hands — though I say it that shouldn't

Dr. Stockmann. I know that very well, Mr.
Aslaksen.

Aslaksen. Well you see, it would be easy for me
to get up an address, if it came to a pinch.

Dr. Stockmann. An address ?

ASLAKSEN. Yes, a kind of vote of thanks to you,
from the citizens of the town, for your action in a

1 The word " madehold," in Norwegian, means both "moderation"
»nd " temperance."



Act II.] An Enemy of the People. 139

matter of such general concern. Of course it will
have to be drawn up with befitting moderation, so
as to give no offence to the authorities and persons of
position. But so long as we're careful about that, no
one can take it ill, I should think.

HOVSTAD. Well, even if they didn't particularly
like it

ASLAKSEN. No no no ; no offence to the powers
that be, Mr. Hovstad. No opposition to people that
can take it out of us again so easily. I've had enough
of that in my time ; no good ever comes of it. But
no one can object to the free but temperate expression
of a citizen's opinion.

Dr. Stockman n {shaking his hand). I can't tell
you, my dear Mr. Aslaksen, how heartily it delights
me to find so much support among my fellow-towns-
men. I'm so happy — so happy ! Come, you'll have
a glass of sherry ? Eh ?

Aslaksen. No, thank you ; I never take wine.

Dr. Stockmann. Well, then, a glass of beer —
what do you say to that ?

Aslaksen. Thanks, not that either, Doctor. I
never take anything so early in the day. And now
I'll be off round the town, and talk to some of the
householders, and prepare public opinion.

Dr. Stockmann. It's extremely kind of you, Mr.
Aslaksen ; but I really can't get it into my head that
all these preparations are necessary ; it seems to me
the affair's as simple as possible.

Aslaksen. The authorities always move slowly,
Doctor — God forbid I should blame them for
it



140 An Enemy of the People. [Act II.

Hovstad. We'll stir them up in the paper to-
morrow, Aslaksen.

ASLAKSEN. No violence, Mr. Hovstad. Proceed
with moderation, or you'll do nothing with them.
Take my advice ; I've picked up experience in the
school of life. And now I'll say good-morning,
Doctor. You know now that at least you have us
small middle-class men behind you, solid as a wall.
You have the compact majority on your side, Doctor!

Dr. Stockman n. Many thanks, my dear Mr.
Aslaksen. {Holds out his hand.) Good-bye, good •
bye.

Aslaksen. Are you coming to the office, Mr.
Hovstad?

Hovstad. I'll come on presently. I've something
to settle first

Aslaksen. All right

(Bows, and goes. Dr. STOCKMANN accompanies
him into the anteroom.)

Hovstad (as the Doctor re-enters). Well, what
do you say to that, Doctor ? Don't you think it's high
time we should strike a blow at all this weak-kneed
trimming and cowardice ?

Dr. STOCKMANN. Are you speaking of Aslaksen ?

HOVSTAD. Yes, I am. He's a decent enough
fellow, but he's one of those who are sunk in the
swamp. And most people here are just like him ;
they're for ever see-sawing from side to side ; what
with scruples and misgivings, they never dare advance
a step.

Dr. STOCKMANN. Yes, but Aslaksen seems to me
thoroughly well-intentioned.



Act II.] An Enemy of the People. 141

Hovstad. There's one thing I value more highly
than good intentions; and that is an attitude of manly
self-reliance.

Dr. STOCKMANN. There I'm quite with you.

HOVSTAD. So I'm going to seize this oppor-
tunity, and see whether I can't for once put a little
grit into their good intentions. The worship of
authority must be rooted up in this town. This gross,
inexcusable blunder of the water-works should be
enough to open the eyes of every voter.

Dr. STOCKMANN. Very well ! If you think it's
for the good of the community, so be it ; but not till
I've spoken to my brother.

Hovstad. Anyhow, I'll be writing my leader in
the meantime. And if the Burgomaster won't take
the matter up

Dr. STOCKMANN. But how can you conceive his
refusing ?

Hovstad. Oh, it's not inconceivable. And
then ?

Dr. STOCKMANN. Well then, I promise you ;


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Online LibraryHenrik IbsenGhost: An enemy of the people: The wild duck → online text (page 7 of 21)