The Editor's Room, "People's Messenger." In the flat at the back a door left; to the right another door with glasspanes, through which can be seen the printing-room. Another door right of the stage. In the middle of the room a large table covered with papers, newspapers, and books. Lower down left, a window, and by it a writing-desk and high chair. A few arm-chairs around the table; some others along the walls. The room is dingy and cheerless, the furniture shabby, the arm-chairs dirty and torn. Within the printing-room are seen a few compositors; further within, a hand-press at work. HOVSTAD, the Editor, is seated at the writing-desk. Presently BILLING enters from the right with the doctor's manuscript in his hand.
Billing. Well, I must say!–
Hovstad [writing]. Have you read it through?
Billing [laying MS. on the desk]. Yes, I should think I had.
Hovstad. Don't you think the doctor comes out strong–?
Billing. Strong! God bless me! he is crushing, that's what he is. Every word falls like a lever–I mean like the blow of a sledge-hammer.
Hovstad. Yes, but these folk don't fall at the first blow.
Billing. True enough, but, we'll keep on hammering away, blow after blow, till the whole lot of aristocrats come crashing down. As I sat in there reading that, I seemed to hear the revolution thundering afar.
Hovstad [turning round]. Sh! Don't let Aslaksen hear anything of that sort.
Billing [in a lower voice]. Aslaksen is a weak-kneed, cowardly fellow, who hasn't any manhood about him. But this time surely you'll insist on having your own way. Hm? You'll print the doctor's paper?
Hovstad. Yes! if only the Burgomaster doesn't give way I–
Billing. That would be d–d unpleasant.
Hovstad. Well, whatever happens, fortunately we can turn the situation to our account. If the Burgomaster won't agree to the doctor's proposal he'll have all the small middle-class against him–all the Householders' Association, and the rest of them. And if he does agree to it, he'll fall out with the whole crew of big shareholders in the Baths, who, until now, have been his main support–
Billing. Ah! yes, yes; for it's certain they'll have to fork out a pretty heavy sum–
Hovstad. You may take your oath of that. And then, don't you see, the ring will be broken up, and we shall day by day show the public that the Burgomaster is utterly unfit in ail respects, and that all positions of trust in the town, the whole municipal government, must be placed in the hands of persons of liberal ideas.
Billing. God bless me, but that's strikingly true. I see it, I see it. We are on the eve of a revolution!
[A Knock at the door.]
Hovstad. Sh–[calls.] Come in! [Dr. Stockmann enters from flat left, Hovstad going towards him.] Ah! here's the doctor. Well?
Dr. Stockmann. Print away, Mr. Hovstad.
Hovstad. Is it to go in just as it is?
Dr. Stockmann. Print away, I tell you. Of course it is to go in as it is. Since they will have it so, they shall! Now, there'll be war in the town, Mr. Billing!
Billing. War to the knife is what I want–to the knife, to the death, doctor!
Dr. Stockmann. This article is only the beginning. My head's already full of plans for four or five other articles. But where do you stow away Alasksen?
Billing. [calling into the printing-room]. Aslaksen! just come here a moment.
Hovstad. Did you say four or five more articles? On the same subject?
Dr. Stockmann. Heaven forbid, my dear fellow. No; they deal with quite different matters. But they all arise out of the water-works and the sewers. One thing leads to another, you know. It is like beginning to shake an old house, exactly the same.
Billing. God bless me, that's true! And you can never do any good till you've pulled down the whole rubbish.
Aslaksen [enters from printing-room]. Pulled down! Surely the doctor is not thinking of pulling down the Baths?
Hovstad. Not at all! Don't be alarmed.
Dr. Stockmann. No, we were talking of something quite different. Well, what do you think or my article, Mr. Hovstad?
Hovstad. I think it is simply a masterpiece–
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, isn't it? That does please me, that does please me.
Hovstad. It is so clear and to the point. One doesn't in the least need to be a specialist in order to understand the reasoning. I am sure every intelligent, honest man will be your side.
Aslaksen. And let us hope all the prudent ones too.
Billing. Both the prudent and imprudent–indeed, I think well-nigh the whole town.
Aslaksen. Well, then, we may venture to print it.
Dr. Stockmann. I should think you could!
Hovstad. It shall go in to-morrow.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, plague take it, not one day must be lost. Look here, Aslaksen, this is what I wanted you for. You, personally, must take charge of the MS.
Aslaksen. Certainly I will.
Dr. Stockmann. Be as careful as if it were gold. No printers' errors, every word is important. I'll look in again presently; then I can make any small corrections. Ah! I can't say how I long to see the thing in print–to hurl it forth–
Billing. To hurl it–yes, like a thunderbolt!
Dr. Stockmann. And to submit it to the judgment of every intelligent fellow-citizen. Ah! you've no idea what I've had to put up with to-day. I've been threatened with all sorts of things. I was to be robbed of my most inalienable rights as a man.
Billing. What! Your rights as a man–!
Dr. Stockmann. I was to be humbled, made a coward of, was to set my personal gain above my deepest, holiest convictions– Billing. God bless me! that is really too bad.
Hovstad. Well just what was to be expected from that quarter.
Dr. Stockmann. But they'll get the worst of it, I call promise them. Henceforth, every day I'll throw myself into the breach in the Messenger, bombard them with one article alter another–
Aslaksen. Yes, but look here–
Billing. Hurrah! There'll be war, there'll be war! Dr. Stockmann. I will smite them to the earth. I will crush them, level all their entrenchments to the ground before the eyes of all right-thinking men. I'll do it.
Aslaksen. But all the same be reasonable, doctor; proceed with moderation–
Billing.Not at all, not at all don't spare for dynamite.
Dr. Stockmann [going on imperturbably]. For remember that henceforth it is not merely a question of water-works and sewers. No, the whole of society must be cleansed, disinfected–
Billing. There sounded the word of salvation!
Dr. Stockmann. All the old bunglers must be got rid of, you understand. And that in every department! Such endless vistas have opened out before me to-day. It was not all clear to me until now, but now I will right everything. It is the young, vigorous banner-bearers we must seek, my friends; we must have new captains for all the outposts.
Billing. Hear, hear!
Dr. Stockmann. And if only we hold together all will go so smoothly, so smoothly! The whole revolution will be only like the launching of a ship. Don't you think so?
Hovstad. For my part, I believe we have now every prospect of placing our municipal affairs in the hands of those to whom they rightly belong.
Aslaksen. And if only we proceed with moderation, I really don't think there can be any danger.
Dr. Stockmann. Who the devil cares whether there's danger or not? What I do, I do in the name of truth and for conscience sake.
Hovstad. You are a man deserving of support, doctor.
Aslaksen. Yes, that's certain. The doctor is a true friend to the town; he is a sincere friend of society.
Billing. God bless me! Dr. Stockmann is a friend of the people, Aslaksen.
Aslaksen. I think the Householders' Association will soon adopt that expression.
Dr. Stockmann [shaking their hands, deeply moved]. Thanks, thanks, my dear, faithful friends, it does me good to hear you. My fine brother called me something very different just now. I'll pay him back with interest, though! But I must be off now to see a poor devil. I'll look in again, as I said. Be sure to take good care of the MS., Mr. Aslaksen, and on no account leave out any of my notes of exclamation! Rather put in a few more. Well; good-bye for the present, good-bye, good-bye.
[Mutual salutations while they accompany him to the door.
Hovstad. He'll be of invaluable service to us.
Aslaksen. Yes, so long as he confines himself to the Baths. But if he goes further, it might not be advisable to go with him.
Hovstad. Hm! Well, that depends–
Billing. You're always so d-d afraid, Aslaksen.
Aslaksen. Afraid? Yes, when it is a question of attacking local magnates, I am afraid, Mr. Billing; that, let me tell you, I have learnt in the school of experience. But go for higher politics, attack the government itself, and you'll see if I'm afraid.
Billing. Oh! no, but that's where you contradict yourself.
Aslaksen. The fact is, I am a conscientious man. If you attack governments, you at least do society no harm, for the men attacked don't care a hang about it, you see; they stay where they are. But local authorities can be turned out, and thus a lot of know-nothings come to the front, and do no end of harm both to householders and others.
Hovstad. But the education of citizens by self-government–what do you think of that?
Aslaksen. When a man has anything to look after, he can't think of everything, Mr. Hovstad.
Hovstad. Then I hope I may never have anything to look after.
Billing. Hear, hear!
Aslaksen [smiling]. Hm! [Pointing to desk.] Governor Stensgaard sat in that editor's chair before you.
Billing. [spitting]. Pooh! A turncoat like that!
Hovstad. I'm no weathercock–and never will be.
Aslaksen. A politician must not swear to anything on earth, Mr. Hovstad. And as to you, Mr. Billing, you ought to take in a reef or two one of these days, since you're running for the post of secretary to the magistracy.
Hovstad. Are you really, Billing?
Billing. Well, yes–but, deuce take it, you know, I'm only doing so to annoy these wiseacres.
Aslaksen. Well, that doesn't concern me. But if I an called cowardly and inconsistent I should like to point out this: Printer Aslaksen's past is open to everyone's inspection. I have not changed at all, except that I am perhaps more moderate. My heart still belongs to the people, but I do not deny that my reason inclines somewhat towards the authorities–at least to the local authorities.
[Exit into printing-room.] Billing. Don't you think we ought to get rid of him, Hovstad?
Hovstad. Do you know of anyone else that'll advance money for the paper and printing?
Billing. It's a d-d nuisance not having the necessary capital.
Hovstad [sifting down by desk]. Yes, if we only had that–
Billing. Suppose you applied to Dr. Stockmann?
Hovstad [turning over his papers]. What would be the good? He has nothing himself.
Billing. No; but he has a good man behind him–old Morten Kill–the "badger," as they call him.
Hovstad. [writing]. Are you so sure he has anything?
Billing. Yes; God bless me. I know it for certain. And part of it will certainly go to Stockmann's family. He is sure to think of providing for them–anyhow, for the children.
Hovstad [half turning]. Are you counting on that?
Billing. Counting? Of course I don't count upon anything.
Hovstad. You're right there I And that post of secretary you shouldn't in the least count upon; for I can assure you you won't get it.
Billing. Do you think I don't know that as well as you? Indeed, I'm glad I shall not get it. Such a rebuff fires one's courage;–gives one a fresh supply of gall, and one needs that in a god-forsaken place like this, where any excitement is so rare.
Hovstad [writing] Yes, yes.
Billing. Well–they'll soon hear of me! Now I'll go and draw up the Appeal to the Householders' Association.
[Exit into room R.]
Hovstad. [sitting by desk, gnawing his pen, says slowly]. Hm! Yes, that'll do. [A Knock at the door.] Come in.
[PETRA enters from the door L. in flat. HOVSTAD rising.] What! Is it you? Here?
Petra. Yes; please excuse me–
Hovstad [offering her an arm-chair]. Won't you sit down?
Petra. No, thanks; I must be off again directly.
Hovstad. I suppose it's something your father–
Petra. No. I've come on my own account. [Takes a book from the pocket of her cloak.] Here's that English story.
Hovstad. Why have you brought it back?
Petra. I won't translate it.
Hovstad. But you promised so faithfully–
Petra. Yes; but then I hadn't read it. And no doubt you've not read it either.
Hovstad. No; you know I can't read English, but–
Petra. Exactly; and that's why I wanted to tell you that you must find something else. [Putting book on table.] This can't possibly go into the Messenger.
Hovstad. Why not?
Petra. Because it is in direct contradiction to your own opinions.
Hovstad. Well, but for the sake of the cause–
Petra. You don't understand me yet. It is all about a supernatural power that looks after the so-called good people here on earth, and turns all things to their advantage at last, and all the bad people are punished.
Hovstad. Yes, but that's very fine. It's the very thing the public like.
Petra. And would you supply the public with such stuff? Why, you don't believe one word of it yourself. You know well enough that things don't really happen like that.
Hovstad. You're right there; but an editor can't always do as he likes. He often has to yield to public opinion in small matters. After all, politics is the chief thing in life–at any rate for a newspaper; and if I want the people to follow me along the path of emancipation and progress, I mustn't scare them away. If they find such a moral story down in the cellar, they're much more willing to stand what is printed above it–they feel themselves safer.
Petra. For shame! You wouldn't be such a hypocrite, and weave a web to ensnare your readers. You are not a spider.
Hovstad. [smiling]. Thanks for your good opinion of me. No. That's Billing's idea, not mine.
Hovstad. Yes. At least he said so the other day. It was Billing who was so anxious to get the story into the paper; I don't even know the book.
Petra. But how Billing, with his advanced views–
Hovstad. Well, Billing is many-sided. He's running for the post of secretary to the magistracy, I hear.
Petra. I don't believe that, Hovstad. How could he condescend to such a thing?
Hovstad. Well, that you must ask him.
Petra. I could never have thought that of Billing.
Hovstad. [looking fixedly at her]. No? Does that come as a revelation to you? Petra. Yes. And yet–perhaps not. Ah! I don't know.
Hovstad. We journalists aren't worth much, Miss Petra.
Petra. Do you really think that?
Hovstad. I think so, sometimes.
Petra. Yes, in the little everyday squabbles–that I can understand. But now that you have taken up a great cause–
Hovstad. You mean that affair of your father's?
Petra. Exactly. But now I should think you must feel yourself worth more than the common herd.
Hovstad. Yes, to-day I do feel something of that sort.
Petra. Yes, don't you feel that? Ah! it is a glorious career you have chosen. Thus to clear the way for despised truths and new ideas–to stand forth fearlessly on the side of a wronged man–
Hovstad. Especially when this wronged man is–hm!–I hardly know how to put it.
Petra. You mean when he is so true and honest.
Hovstad. [in a low voice]. I mean when he is your father–
Petra [as if she had received a blow]. That?
Hovstad. Yes, Petra–Miss Petra.
Petra. So that is what you think of first and foremost? Not the cause itself? Not the truth? Not father's big, warm heart?
Hovstad. Yes, of course, that as well.
Petra. No, thank you; you've just let the cat out of the bag, Mr. Hovstad. Now I shall never trust you again in anything.
Hovstad. Can you reproach me because it is chiefly for your sake–?
Petra. What I am angry with you for is that you have not acted honestly towards my father. You told him it was only the truth and the good of the community you cared about. You have fooled both father and me. You are not the man you pretend to be. And I shall never forgive you–never!
Hovstad. You should not say that so hardly, Miss Petra–not now.
Petra. Why not now?
Hovstad. Because your father can't do without my help.
Petra [looking scornfully at him]. And that is what you are! Oh,shame!
Hovstad. No, no. I spoke thoughtlessly. You must not believe that.
Petra. I know what to believe. Good-bye.
[ASLAKSEN enters from printing-room, hurriedly and mysteriously.]
Aslaksen. Plague take it, Mr. Hovstad–[seeing PETRA] Sh! that's awkward.
Petra. Well, there's the book. You must give it to someone else.
[Going towards main door.]
Hovstad [following her]. But, Miss Petra–
Aslaksen. I say, Mr. Hovstad!
Hovstad. Well, what is it?
Aslaksen. The Burgomaster is out there, in the printing office.
Hovstad. The Burgomaster?
Aslaksen. Yes. He wants to speak to you; he came in by the back door–he didn't want to be seen.
Hovstad. What's the meaning of this? Don't go. I will myself– [Goes towards printing-room, opens the door, and bows as the Burgomaster enters.] Take care, Aslaksen, that–
Aslaksen. I understand.
Burgomaster. You didn't expect to see me here, Mr. Hovstad.
Hovstad. No, I can't say I did.
Burgomaster [looking about him]. Why, you've arranged everything most comfortably here; quite charming.
Burgomaster. And I've come, without any sort of notice, to occupy your time.
Hovstad. You are very welcome; I am quite at your service. Let me take your cap and stick. [He does so, and puts them on a chair.] And won't you sit down?
Burgomaster [sitting down by table]. Thanks [Hovstad also sits down by table.] I have been much–very much annoyed to-day, Mr. Hovstad.
Hovstad. Indeed? Oh, yes! With all your various duties, Burgomaster–
Burgomaster. To-day I've been worried by the doctor.
Hovstad. You don't say so? The doctor?
Burgomaster. He's been writings a sort of statement to the directors concerning certain supposed shortcomings of the Baths.
Hovstad. No, has he really?
Burgomaster. Yes; hasn't he told you? I thought he said–
Hovstad. Oh, yes, so he did. He said something about it.
Aslaksen [from the office]. Wherever is the MS–?
Hovstad [in a tone of vexation]. Hm? There it is on the desk.
Aslaksen [finding it]. All right.
Burgomaster. Why, that is it–
Aslaksen. Yes, that's the doctor's paper, Burgomaster.
Hovstad. Oh! was that what you were speaking of?
Burgomaster. The very same. What do you think of it?
Hovstad. I'm not a professional man, and I've only glanced at it.
Burgomaster. And yet you are going to print it?
Hovstad. I can't very well refuse so distinguished a man–
Aslaksen. I have nothing to do with the editing of the paper, Burgomaster.
Burgomaster. Of course not.
Aslaksen. I merely print whatever comes into my hands.
Burgomaster. That's as it should be.
Aslaksen. So I must– [Goes towards printing-room.]
Burgomaster. No, stay one moment, Mr. Aslaksen. With your permission, Mr. Hovstad–
Hovstad. By all means, Burgomaster.
Burgomaster. You are a discreet and thoughtful man, Mr. Aslaksen.
Aslaksen. I'm glad to hear you say so, Burgomaster.
Burgomaster. And a man of considerable influence.
Aslaksen. Chiefly among the small middle-class.
Burgomaster. The small taxpayers are the most numerous–here as everywhere.
Aslaksen. That's true enough.
Burgomaster. But I do no: doubt that you know what the feeling of most of them is. Isn't that so?
Aslaksen. Yes, I think I may say that I do, Burgomaster.
Burgomaster. Well–if there is such a praiseworthy spirit of self-sacrifice among the less wealthy citizens of the town, I–
Aslaksen. How so?
Burgomaster. It is an excellent sign of public spirit–a most excellent sign. I was near saying I should not have expected it. But, of course, you know public feeling better than I do.
Aslaksen. Yes but, Burgomaster–
Burgomaster. And assuredly it is no small sacrifice that the town is about to make.
Hovstad. The town?
Aslaksen. But I don't understand–it's about the Baths–
Burgomaster. According to a preliminary estimate, the alterations considered necessary by the doctor will come to several hundred thousand crowns.
Aslaksen. That's a large sum; but–
Burgomaster. Of course we shall be obliged to raise a municipal loan.
Hovstad [rising]. You don't mean to say that the town–?
Aslaksen. To be paid out of the rates? Out of the needy pockets of the small middle-class?
Burgomaster. Yes, my excellent Mr. Aslaksen, where should the funds come from?
Aslaksen. That's the business of the shareholders who own the Baths.
Burgomaster. The shareholders of the Baths are not in a position to go to further expense.
Aslaksen. Are you quite sure of that, Burgomaster?
Burgomaster. I have assured myself on the matter. So that if these extensive alterations are to be made, the town itself will have to bear the costs.
Aslaksen. Oh, d-n it all!–I beg your pardon!–but this is quite another matter, Mr. Hovstad.
Hovstad. Yes, it certainly is.
Burgomaster. The worst of it is, that we shall be obliged to close the establishment for some two years.
Hovstad. To close it? To close it completely?
Aslaksen. For two years!
Burgomaster. Yes, the work will require that time at least.
Aslaksen. But, d-n it all! we can't stand that, Burgomaster. What are we householders to live on meanwhile?
Burgomaster. Unfortunately, that's extremely difficult to say, Mr. Aslaksen. But what would you have us do? Do you think a single visitor will come here if we go about trying to persuade them into fancying the waters are poisoned, and that we are living on a pest ground, and the whole town–
Aslaksen. And it is all nothing but fancy?
Burgomaster. With the best intentions of the world, I've not been able to convince myself that it is anything else.
Aslaksen. But then it is quite inexcusable of Dr. Stockmann–I beg your pardon, Burgomaster, but–
Burgomaster. You are, unhappily, only speaking the truth, Mr. Aslaksen. Unfortunately, my brother has always been a headstrong man.
Aslaksen. And yet you are willing to support him in such a matter, Mr. Hovstad!
Hovstad. But who could possibly have imagined that–
Burgomaster. I have drawn up a short statement of the facts, as they appear from a sober-minded point of view. And in it I have hinted that various unavoidable drawbacks may be remedied by measures compatible with the finances of the Baths.
Hovstad. Have you the paper with you, Burgomaster?
Burgomaster [searching in his pockets]. Yes; I brought it with me in case you–
Aslaksen [quickly]. D–n it, there he is!
Burgomaster. Who? My brother?
Hovstad. Where, where?
Aslaksen. He's coming through the printing-room.
Burgomaster. What a nuisance! I should not like to meet him here, and yet there are several things I want to talk to you about.
Burgomaster. [pointing to door L.]. Go in there for a moment.
Hovstad. You'll only find Billing there.
Aslaksen. Quick, quick, Burgomaster, he's just coming.
Burgomaster. Very well. But see that you get rid of him quickly.
[Exit door L., which ASLAKSEN opens, bowing.]
Hovstad. Be busy doing something, Aslaksen.
[He sits down and writes. ASLAKSEN turns over a heap of newspapers on a chair R.]
Dr. Stockmann. [entering from printing-room]. Here I am, back again! [Puts down his hat and stick.]
Hovstad. [writing]. Already, doctor? Make haste, Aslaksen. We've no time to lose to-day.
Dr. Stockmann [to Aslaksen]. No proofs yet, I hear.
Aslaksen [without turning round]. No; how could you I think there would be?
Dr. Stockmann. Of course not; but you surely understand that I am impatient. I can have no rest or peace until I see the thing in print.
Hovstad. Hm! It'll take a good hour yet. Don't you think so, Aslaksen?
Aslaksen. I am almost afraid it will.
Dr. Stockmann. All right, all right, my good friends; then I look in again. I don't mind coming twice on such an errand. So great a cause–the welfare of the whole town; –upon my word, this is no time to be idle. [Just going, but stops and comes back] Oh! look here, there's one other thing I must talk to you about.
Hovstad. Excuse me. Wouldn't some other time–
Dr. Stockmann. I can tell you in two words. You see it's only this. When people read my statement in the paper to-morrow, and find I've spent the whole winter silently working for the good of the town–
Hovstad. Yes; but, doctor–
Dr. Stockmann. I know what you would say. You don't think it was a d–d bit more than my duty–my simple duty as a citizen. Of course I know that, just as well as you do. But you see, my fellow-citizens–good Lord! the kindly creatures think so much of me–
Aslaksen. Yes, your fellow-citizens did think very highly of you till to-day doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. And that's exactly what I'm afraid of, that–this is what I wanted to say: when all this comes to them–especially to the poorer class–as a summons to take the affairs of the town into their own hands for the future–
Hovstad. [rising]. Hm, doctor, I will not conceal from you–
Dr. Stockmann. Aha! I thought there was something a-brewing! But I won't hear of it. If they're going to get up anything–
Hovstad. How so?
Dr. Stockmann. Well, anything of any sort, a procession with banners, or a banquet, or a subscription for a testimonial–or whatever it may be, you must give me your solemn promise to put a stop to it. And you too, Mr. Aslaksen; do you hear?
Hovstad. Excuse me, doctor; we might as well tell you: the whole truth first, as last–
[Enter MRS. STOCKMANN.]
Mrs. Stockmann. [seeing the doctor]. Ah! just as I thought!
Hovstad. [going towards her]. Hallo! Your wife, too?
Dr. Stockmann. What the devil have you come here for, Katrine?
Mrs. Stockmann. I should think you must know well enough what I've come for.
Hovstad. Won't you sit down? Or can–?
Mrs. Stockmann. Thanks; please do not trouble. And you mustn't be vexed with me for coming here to fetch Stockmann, for you must bear in mind I'm the mother of three children.
Dr.Stockmann. Stuff and nonsense! We all know that well enough!
Mrs. Stockmann. It doesn't look as if you were thinking very much about your wife and children to-day or you'd not be so ready to plunge us all into misfortune.
Dr. Stockmann. Are you quite mad, Katrine! Mustn't a man with a wife and children proclaim the truth, do his utmost to be a useful and active citizen, do his duty by the town he lives in?
Mrs. Stockmann. Everything in moderation, Thomas.
Aslaksen. That's just what I say. Moderation in all things.
Mrs. Stockmann. And you are wronging us, Mr. Hovstad, when you entice my husband away from his house and home, and befool him with all this business.
Hovstad. I am not aware I have befooled anyone in–
Dr. Stockmann. Befool! Do you think I should let myself be made a fool of?
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, but you do. I know well that you are the cleverest man in the town, but you so easily allow yourself to be taken in, Thomas. [To HOVSTAD.] And only think, he will lose his post at the Baths if you print what he has written.
Hovstad. Yes, but you know, doctor–
Dr. Stockmann. [laughing]. Ha ha! just let them try! No, no, my dear, they daren't do it! I've the compact majority behind me, you see.
Mrs. Stockmann. That's just the misfortune that you have such an awful thing behind you.
Dr. Stockmann. Nonsense, Katrine;–you get home and see after the house, and let me take care of society. How can you be so afraid when I am so confident and happy. [Rubbing his hands and walking up and down.] Truth and the people must win the day; that you may be sure. Ah! I see the independent citizens gathering together as in triumphant host! [Stopping by chair.] Why, what the devil is that?
Aslaksen [looking at it]. Oh, Lord!
Hovstad [the same]. Hm!
Dr. Stockmann. Why, here's the top-knot of authority! [He takes the Burgomaster's official cap carefully between the tips of his fingers and holds it up.]
Mrs. Stockmann. The Burgomaster's cap!
Dr. Stockmann. And here's the staff of office, too! But how the deuce did they–
Hovstad. Well then–
Dr. Stockmann. Ah! I understand. He's been here to talk you over. Ha! ha! He brought his pigs to the wrong market! And when he caught sight of me in the printing-room [bursts out laughing]–he took to his heels, Mr. Aslaksen?
Aslaksen [hurriedly]. Exactly; he took to his heels, doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Took to his heels without his stick and Fiddle, faddle! Peter didn't make off without his belongings. But what the devil have you done with him? Ah!–in there, of course. Now you shall see, Katrine!
Mrs. Stockmann. Thomas, I beg you–?
Aslaksen. Take care, doctor!
[DR. STOCKMANN has put the Burgomaster's cap on and taken his stick : then he goes up, throws open the door, and makes a military salute. The Burgomaster enters, red with anger. Behind him enters BILLING.]
Burgomaster. What is the meaning of this folly?
Dr. Stockmann. Be respectful, my good Peter. Now, it is I who am the highest authority in the town.
[He struts up and down.]
Mrs. Stockmann [almost crying]. But really, Thomas–!
Burgomaster [following him]. Give me my cap and stick!
Dr. Stockmann [as before]. If you are the chief of police, I am the Burgomaster. I am master of the whole town, I tell you!
Burgomaster. Put down my cap, I say. Remember it is the official cap.
Dr. Stockmann. Pish! Do you think the awakening leonine people will allow themselves to be scared by an official cap? For you will see, we are going to have a revolution in the town to-morrow. You threatened to dismiss me, but now I dismiss you–dismiss you from ail your offices of trust. You think I cannot do it?–Oh, yes, I can! I have the irresistible force of society with me. Hovstad and Billing will thunder forth in the People's Messenger, and printer Aslaksen will come forward at the head of the whole Householders' Association–
Aslaksen. I shall not, doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Surely you will–
Burgomaster. Ah ha! Perhaps Mr. Hovstad is going to join the agitation?
Hovstad. No, Burgomaster.
Aslaksen. No, Mr. Hovstad isn't such a fool as to ruin both himself and the paper for the sake of a fancy.
Dr. Stockmann [looking about him]. What does all this mean?
Hovstad. You have represented your case in a false light, doctor; and therefore I am not able to give you my support.
Billing. And after what the Burgomaster has been so kind as to tell me in there, I–
Dr. Stockmann. In a false light! Charge me with that, if you will, only print my paper; I am man enough to stand by it.
Hovstad. I shall not print it. I cannot, and will not, and dare not print it.
Dr. Stockmann. You dare not? What nonsense! You're editor, and I suppose it is the editor that directs his paper.
Aslaksen. No it's the readers, doctor.
Billing Luckily, it is.
Aslaksen. It is public opinion, the enlightened people, the householders, and all the rest. It is they who direct a paper.
Dr. Stockmann [quietly]. And all these powers I have against me?
Aslaksen. Yes, you have. It would be absolute ruin for the townspeople if your paper were printed.
Dr. Stockmann. So!
Burgomaster. My hat and stick. [DR. STOCKMANN takes off his cap and lays if on the table. The Burgomaster takes them both.] Your magisterial authority has come to an untimely end.
Dr. Stockmann. The end is not yet. [To HOVSTAD.] So it is quite impossible to print my paper in the Messenger.
Hovstad. Quite impossible; and for the sake of your family–
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh! please leave his family out of the question, Mr. Hovstad.
Burgomaster [takes a manuscript from his jacket.] This will be sufficient to enlighten the public, if you will print this: it is an authentic statement. Thanks.
Hovstad [taking MS.]. Good! I'll see it is inserted at once.
Dr. Stockmann. And not mine! You imagine you can silence me and the truth! But it won't be as easy as you think. Mr. Aslaksen, will you be good enough to print my MS. at once as a pamphlet–at my own cost–on my own responsibility. I'll take five hundred copies–no, I'll have six hundred.
Aslaksen. No. If you offered me its weight in gold I should not dare to lend my press to such a purpose, doctor. I must not, for the sake of public opinion. And you'll not get that printed anywhere in the whole town.
Dr. Stockmann. Then give it me back.
Hovstad [handing him MS.]. By all means.
Dr. Stockmann [taking up his hat and cane]. It shall be made public all the same. I'll read it at a mass meeting; all my fellow-citizens shall hear the voice of truth!
Burgomaster. There's not a society in the whole town that would let you their promises for such a purpose.
Aslaksen. Not a single one, I am certain.
Billing. No, God bless me, I should think not!
Mrs. Stockmann. That would be too shameful! But why are all these men against you?
Dr. Stockmann [angrily]. Ah! I'll tell you. It is because in this town all the men are old women–like you. They all think only of their families, and not of the general good.
Mrs. Stockmann [taking his arm]. Then I will show them how an–an old woman can be a man, for once in a way. For now I will stand by you, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. Bravely said, Katrine! For on my soul the truth will out. If I can't make them let any hall, I'll hire a drum, and I'll march through the town with it; and I'll read my paper at every street corner.
Burgomaster. Surely you're not such an arrant fool as all that?
Dr. Stockmann. I am.
Aslaksen. There's not a single man in the whole town who would go with you.
Billing. No, God bless me, that there isn't.
Mrs. Stockmann. Do not give in, Thomas. I will send the boys with you.
Dr. Stockmann. That's a splendid idea!
Mrs. Stockmann. Morten will be so pleased to go; Ejlif will go too–he too.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and so will Petra. And you yourself, Katrine!
Mrs. Stockmann. No, no, not I. But I'll stand at the window and watch you–that I will do gladly.
Dr. Stockmann [throwing his arms about her and kissing her]. Thanks, thanks. Now, my good sirs, we are ready for the fight! Now, we'll see if cowardice can close the mouth of a patriot who labours only for the common weal.
[He and his wife go out together through door L. in flat.]
Burgomaster [shaking his head doubtfully] Now he's sent her mad too!