[DR. STOCKMANN'S study. Bookcases and various preparations along the walls. In the background a door leading to the ante-room; to the left first entrance, a door to the sitting-room. In wall right are two windows, all the panes of which are smashed. In the middle of the room is the doctor's writing-table, covered with books and papers. The room is in disorder. It is morning. DR. STOCKMANN, in dressing-gown, slippers, and skull-cap, is bending down and raking with an umbrella under one of the cabinets; at last he rakes out a stone.]
Dr. Stockmann [speaking through the sitting-room door]. Katrine, I've found another one.
Mrs. Stockmann [in the sitting-room]. Ah! you're sure to find lots more.
Dr. Stockmann. [placing the stone on a pile of others on the table]. I shall keep these stones as sacred relics. Ejlif and Morten shall see them every day, and when they are grown men they shall inherit them from me. [Poking under the bookcase.] Hasn't–what the devil's her name?–the girl–hasn't she been for the glazier yet?
Mrs. Stockmann [coming in]. Yes, but he said he didn't know whether he'd be able to come to-day.
Dr. Stockmann. You'll see he daren't come.
Mrs. Stockmann. Well, Rudine also thought he didn't dare to come, because of the neighbours. [Speaks through sitting-room door]. What is it,Rudine?–All right. [Goes in and returns again immediately.] Here's a letter for you, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. Let's see. [Opens letter and reads.] Ah, ha!
Mrs. Stockmann. Whom is it from?
Dr. Stockmann. From the landlord. He gives us notice.
Mrs. Stockmann. Is it possible? Such a pleasantly-behaved man.
Dr. Stockmann [looking at the letter]. He daren't do otherwise, he says. He is very loath to do it; but he daren't do otherwise on account of his fellow-citizens, out of respect for public opinion–is in a dependent position–does not dare to offend certain influential men–
Mrs. Stockmann. There, you can see now, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, yes, I see well enough; they are cowards, every one of them cowards in this town; no one dares do anything for fear of all the rest. [Throws letter on table.] But that's all the same to us, Katrine. Now we're journeying to the new world, and so–
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, but, Thomas, is that idea of the journey really well-advised?
Dr. Stockmann. Perhaps you'd have me stay here where they have gibbeted me as an enemy of the people, branded me, and smashed my windows to atoms? And look here, Katrine, they have torn a hole in my black trousers.
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh dear, and they're the best you've got.
Dr. Stockmann. One ought never to put on one's best trousers when one goes fighting for liberty and truth. Of course, you know I don't care so much about the trousers; you can always patch them up forme. But it is that the mob should dare to attack me as if they were my equals–that's what, for the life of me, I can't stomach.
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, they've been very insolent to you here, Thomas; but must we leave the country altogether on that account?
Dr. Stockmann. Don't you think the plebeians are just as impertinent in other towns as here? Ah, yes, they are, my dear; they're pretty much of a muchness everywhere. Well, never mind, let the curs snap; that is not the worst; the worst is that all men are party slaves all the land over. Nor is it that–perhaps that's no better in the free west either; there, too, the compact majority thrives, and enlightened public opinion and all the other devil's trash flourishes. But you see the conditions are on a larger scale there than here; they may lynch you, but they don't torture you; they don't put the screw on a free soul there as they do at home here. And then, if need be, you can live apart. [Walks up and down.] If I only knew whether there were any primeval forest, any little South Sea island to be bought cheap–
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, but the boys, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann [standing still]. What an extraordinary woman you are, Katrine! Would you prefer the boys to grow; up amid such a society as ours? Why, you saw yourself yesterday evening that one half of the population is quite mad, and if the other half hasn't lost its reason, that's because they're hounds who haven't any reason to lose.
Mrs. Stockmann. But really, dear Thomas, you do say such impudent things!
Dr. Stockmann. Well! But isn't what I say the truth? Don't they turn all ideas upside down? Don't they stir up right and wrong in one mess of potage? Don't they call lies what I know to be truth? But the maddest thing of all is that there a a whole mass of grown men, Liberals, who go about persuading themselves and others that they are free! Did you ever hear anything like it, Katrine?
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, yes, it is certainly quite mad. But– [PETRA enters from sitting-room]. Back from school already?
Petra. Yes, I've been dismissed.
Mrs. Stockmann. Dismissed?
Dr. Stockmann. You, too!
Petra. Mrs. Busk gave me notice,and so I thought it would be best to leave there and then.
Dr. Stockmann. On my soul you did right!
Mrs. Stockmann. Who could have thought Mrs. Busk was such a bad woman?
Petra. Oh! Mother, Mrs. Busk isn't really so bad; I saw clearly how much it pained her. But she didn't dare to do otherwise, she said; and so I'm dismissed.
Dr. Stockmann [laughing and tubbing his hands]. She dared not do otherwise, she too! Ah! that's delicious.
Mrs. Stockmann. Ah! well! after the dreadful uproar last night– Petra. It wasn't only that. Now you shall hear, father!
Dr. Stockmann. Well?
Petra. Mrs. Busk showed me no less than three letters she had received this morning.
Dr. Stockmann. Anonymous, of course?
Dr. Stockmann. They didn't dare to give their names, Katrine–!
Petra. And two of them wrote that a gentleman who frequently visits our house, said at the club last night that I had such extremely advanced opinions upon various matters.
Dr. Stockmann. And, of course, you didn't deny that?
Petra. Of course not You know Mrs. Busk herself has pretty advanced opinions when we are alone together; but now this has come out about me she didn't dare keep me on.
Mrs. Stockmann. And to think–it was one who came to our house! There, now, you see, Thomas, what comes of all your hospitality.
Dr. Stockmann. We won't live any longer amid such foulness. Pack up as quickly as you can, Katrine; let us get away–the sooner the better.
Mrs. Stockmann. Hush! I think there's some one outside in the passage. Just see, Petra. Petra [opening door]. Ah! is it you, Captain Horster? Please come in.
Horster [from the ante-room]. Good morning. I thought I must just look in and see how you're getting on.
Dr. Stockmann. [holding out his hand]. Thanks; that's very beautiful of you.
Mrs. Stockmann. And thanks for seeing us home, Captain Horster.
Petra. But however did you get back again?
Horster. Oh! that was all right. You know I'm pretty strong, and these folk's bark is worse than their bite.
Dr. Stockmann. Isn't it marvellous, this piggish cowardice? Come here, I want to show you something! See, here are all the stones they threw in at us. Only look at them! Upon my soul there aren't more than two decent big fighting stones in the whole lot; the rest are nothing but pebbles–mere nothings. And yet they stood down there, and yelled, and swore they'd slay me–the corrupt one;–but for deeds, for deeds–there's not much of that in this town!
Horster. Well, that was a good thing for you this time, anyhow, doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course it was. But its vexatious all the same; for should it ever come to a serious, really important struggle, you'll see, Captain Horster, that public opinion will take to its heels, and the compact majority will make for the sea like a herd of swine. It is this that is so sad to think of; it grieves me to the very heart.–No, deuce take it–at the bottom all this is folly. They've said I am an enemy of the people; well then, I'll be an enemy of the people.
Mrs. Stockmann. You will never be that, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. You'd better not take your oath of it, Katrine. A bad name may work like a pin's prick in the lungs. And that d–d word–I can't get rid of it; it has sunk into my diaphragm–there it lies, and gnaws, and sucks like some acid. And magnesia is no good against that.
Petra. Pshaw! You should only laugh at them, father.
Horster. The people will think differently yet, doctor.
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, Thomas, you may be as sure of that as you're standing here.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes–perhaps when it is too late. Well, much good may it do them! Let them go on wallowing here in the mire, and repent that they have driven a patriot into exile. When do you sail, Captain Horster?
Horster. Hm I–it was really that I came to speak to you about–
Dr. Stockmann. Has anything gone wrong with the ship?
Horster. No; but it's like this, I'm not going with it.
Petra. Surely you have not been dismissed?
Horster. (smiling). Yes, I have.
Petra. You too!
Dr. Stockmann.And for truth's sake! Ah! had I thought such a thing–
Horster. You musn't take it to heart; I shall soon get a berth with some other company.
Dr. Stockmann. And this Merchant Vik! A wealthy man, independent of anyone! Good Heavens–
Horster. In other matters he is a thoroughly fair man, and he says himself he would gladly have kept me on if only he dared.
Dr. Stockmann. But he didn't dare–that goes without saying.
Horster. It wasn't easy, he said, when you belong to a party–
Dr. Stockmann. That was a true saying of the honourable man's! A party is like a sausage-machine; it grinds all the heads together in one mash; and that's why there are so many blockheads and fat heads all seething together!
Mrs. Stockmann. Now really, Thomas!
Petra [to Horster]. If only you hadn't seen us home perhaps it would not have come to this.
Horster.. I don't regret it.
Petra [holding out her hands]. Thank you for that!
Horster. [to Dr. Stockmann]. And so what I wanted to say to you was this: that if you really want to leave I have thought of another way–
Dr. Stockmann. That is good–if only we can get off–
Mrs. Stockmann. Sh! Isn't that a knock?
Petra. I'm sure that's uncle.
Dr. Stockmann. Aha! [Calls.] Come in.
Mrs. Stockmann. Dear Thomas, now do for once promise me–
[Enter Burgomaster from ante-room.]
Burgomaster [in the doorway]. Oh! you're engaged. Then I'd better–
Dr Stockmann. No, no; come in.
Burgomaster. But I wanted to speak with you alone.
Mrs. Stockmann. We'll go into the sitting-room.
Horster. And I'll look in again presently.
Dr Stockmann. No, no, go with them, Captain Horster, I must have further information–
Horster. All right, then I'll wait.
[He follows MRS. STOCKMANN and PETRA into the sitting-room. The Burgomaster says nothing, bat casts glances at the windows.]
Dr. Stockmann. Perhaps you find it rather drafty here to-day? Put your hat on.
Burgomaster. Thanks, if I may [puts on hat]. I fancy I caught cold yesterday evening. I stood there shivering.
Dr. Stockmann. Really? I should have said it was pretty warm.
Burgomaster. I regret that it was not in my power to prevent these nocturnal excesses.
Dr. Stockmann. Have you nothing else to say to me?
Burgomaster [producing a large letter]. I've this document for you from the Directors of the Baths.
Dr. Stockmann. I am dismissed?
Burgomaster. Yes; from to-day. [Places letter on table.] We are very sorry–but frankly, we dared not do otherwise on account of public opinion.
Dr Stockmann [smiling]. Dared not? I've heard that word already to-day.
Burgomaster. I beg of you to understand your position clearly. You must not, for the future, count upon any sort of practice in the town here.
Dr. Stockmann. Deuce take the practice! But are you so sure of this?
Burgomaster. The Householders' Association is sending round a circular from house to house, in which all well-disposed citizens are called upon not to employ you, and I dare swear that not a single father of a family will venture to refuse his signature; he simply dare not.
Dr. Stockmann. Well well; I don't doubt that. But what then?
Burgomaster. If I might give you a piece of advice, it would be this–to go away for a time.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, I've had some thought of leaving this place.
Burgomaster. Good. When you've done so, and have had six months of reflection, then if, after mature consideration, you could make up your mind to acknowledge your error in a few words of regret–
Dr. Stockmann. I might perhaps be re-instated, you think?
Burgomaster. Perhaps; it is not absolutely impossible.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, but how about public opinion? You daren't on account of public opinion.
Burgomaster. Opinions are extremely variable things. And, to speak candidly, it is of the greatest importance for us to have such an admission from you.
Dr. Stockmann. Then you may whistle for it! You remember well enough, d–n if what I've said to you before about these foxes' tricks!
Burgomaster. At that time your position was infinitely more favourable; at that time you might have supposed you had the whole town at your back–
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and now I feel I've the whole town on my back. [Faring up.] But no–not if I had the devil himself and his grandmother on my back–never–never, I tell you!
Burgomaster. The father of a family must not act as you are doing; you must not, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. Must not! There is but one thing on earth that a free man must not do, and do you know what that is?
Dr. Stockmann. Of course not; but I will tell you. A free man must not behave like a blackguard; he must not so act that he would spit in his own face.
Burgomaster. That really sounds extremely plausible; and if there were not another explanation of your mulish obstinacy–but we know well enough there–
Dr. Stockmann. What do you mean by that?
Burgomaster. I'm sure you understand. But as your brother, and as a man of common-sense, I give you this advice: don't build too confidently upon prospects and expectations that perhaps may fail you utterly.
Dr. Stockmann. But what on earth are you driving at?
Burgomaster. Do you really want to make me believe that you are ignorant of the provisions Master Tanner Kiil has made in his will?
Dr. Stockmann. I know that the little he has is to go to a home for old indigent working-men. But what's that got to do with me?
Burgomaster. To begin with, it is not a "little" we're speaking of. Tanner Kiil is a fairly wealthy man.
Dr. Stockmann. I've never had any idea of that!
Burgomaster. Hm! Really? Then you hadn't any idea either that a not inconsiderable portion of his fortune is to go to your children, and that you and your wife are to enjoy the interest on it for life. Hasn't he told you that?
Dr. Stockmann. No, on my soul! On the contrary, he was constantly grumbling because he was so preposterously over-taxed. But are you really so sure of this, Peter?
Burgomaster. I had it from a thoroughly reliable source.
Dr. Stockmann. But,good Heavens! Why, then, Katrine is all right–and the children too! Oh! I must tell her– [Calls.] Katrine, Katrine!
Burgomaster [restraining him]. Hush! don't say anything about it yet.
Mrs. Stockmann [opening the door]. What is it?
Dr. Stockmann. Nothing, my dear, go in again. [MRS. STOCKMANN closes the door. He walks up and down.] Provided for! Only think–all of them provided for! And that for life! After all it is a pleasant sensation to feel yourself secure!
Burgomaster. Yes, but it is not exactly so–you are not. Tanner Kiil can annul his testament at any day or hour he chooses.
Dr. Stockmann. But he won't do that, my good Peter. The badger is immensely delighted that I've attacked you and your wiseacre friends.
Burgomaster [stops and looks searchingly at him]. Aha! that throws a new light upon a good many matters.
Dr. Stockmann. What matters?
Burgomaster. So the whole affair has been a combined manoeuvre. These violent, restless attacks which you, in the name of truth, have launched against the leading men of the town.
Dr. Stockmann. What, what?
Burgomaster. So this was nothing but a preconcerted return for that vindictive old Morten Kiil's will.
Dr. Stockmann [almost speechless]. Peter–you're the most abominable plebeian I've ever known in my life.
Burgomaster. Everything is over between us. Your dismissal is irrevocable–for now we have a weapon against you.
Dr. Stockmann. Shame! shame! shame! [Calls.] Katrine! The floor must be scrubbed after him! Tell her to come here with a pail–what's her name?–confound it–the girl with the sooty nope–
Mrs. Stockmann. [in the sitting-room]. Hush, hush! Thomas!
Petra [also in the doorway]. Father, here's grandfather, and he wants to know if he can speak to you alone.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, of course he can. [By the door.] Come in, father-in-law. [Enter MORTEN KIIL. DR. STOCKMANN closes the door behind him.] Well, what is it? Sit you down.
Morten. I'll not sit down. [Looking about him]. It looks cheerful here to-day, Stockmann.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, doesn't it?
Morten Kiil. Sure enough it does: and you've plenty of fresh air, too; I should think you'd have enough of that oxygen you chattered about so much yesterday. You must have an awfully good conscience to-day, I should think.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, I have.
Morten Kiil. So I should suppose. [Striking himself upon the heart.] But do you know what I've got here?
Dr. Stockmann. Well, a good conscience, too, I hope.
Morten Kiil. Pshaw! No, something far better than that.
[Takes out a large pocket-book, opens it, and shows a mass of papers.]
Dr. Stockmann [looking at him in astonishment]. Shares in the Baths!
Morten Kiil. They weren't difficult to get to-day.
Dr. Stockmann. And you've been and bought these up–?
Morten Kiil. All I'd got the money to pay for.
Dr. Stockmann. But, my dear father-in-law,–just now, when the Baths are in such straits.
Morten Kiil. If you behave like a reasonable creature you can set the Baths going again.
Dr. Stockmann. Ay, why you can see for yourself that I'm doing all I can. But the people of this town are mad!
Morten Kiil. You said yesterday that the worst filth came from my tannery. Now, if that's really the truth, then my grandfather, and my father before me, and I myself have all these years been littering the town like three destroying angels. Do you think I'll let such a stain remain upon me?
Dr. Stockmann. Unfortunately, you can't help yourself now.
Morten Kiil. No, thanks. I stand for my good name and my rights. I have heard that the people call me "badger." Well, the badger is a swinish sort of animal, but they shall never be able to say that of me. I will live and die a clean man.
Dr. Stockmann. And how will you manage that?
Morten Kiil. You shall make me clean, Stockmann.
Dr. Stockmann. I!
Morten Kiil. Do you know with what money I've bought these shares ? No, you can't know, but now I'll tell you It's the money Katrine and Petra and the little lads will have after me. Yes, for you see, I've invested my little all to the best advantage anyhow.
Dr. Stockmann [flaring up]. And you've thrown away Katrine's money like this!
Morten Kiil. O yes; the whole of the money is entirely invested in the Baths now. And now I shall really see if you're so possessed–demented–mad, Stockmann. Now, if you go on letting this dirt and filth result from my tannery, it'll be just the same as if you were to flay Katrine with a whip–and Petra too, and the little lads. But no decent father of a family would ever so that–unless, indeed, he were a madman.
Dr. Stockmann. [walking up and down]. Yes, but I am a madman; I am a madman!
Morten Kiil. But I suppose you're not so stark mad where your wife and bairns are concerned.
Dr. Stockmann [standing in front of him]. Why on earth didn't you speak to me before you went and bought all that rubbish?
Morten Kiil. What's done can't be undone.
Dr. Stockmann. [walking about uneasily]. If only I weren't so certain about the affair! But I'm thoroughly convinced that I'm right!
Morten Kiil. [weighing the pocket-book in his hand]. If you stick to your madness these aren't worth much.
[Puts book into his pocket.]
Dr. Stockmann. But, deuce take it! surely science will be able to find some remedy, some antidote.
Morten Kiil. Do you mean something to kill the animals?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, or at least to make them innocuous.
Morten Kiil. Can't you try rat's-bane.
Dr. Stockmann. Tush! Tush! But all the people say it is nothing but fancy! Let them have their own way, then! Haven't the ignorant, narrow-hearted curs reviled me for an enemy of the people;–and did not they try to tear the clothes from off my back!
Morten Kiil. And they've smashed all the windows for you, too!
Dr. Stockmann. Then, too, one's duty to one's family. I must talk it over with Katrine; she is such a stickler in matters of this sort.
Morten Kiil. That's right! You just follow the advice of a sensible woman.
Dr. Stockmann [going to him angrily]. How could you act so perversely! Staking Katrine's money and getting me into this horribly painful dilemma! I tell you that when I look at you I seem to see the devil himself–!
Morten Kiil. Then I'd better be off. But you me know your decision by two o'clock. It it's shares go to the Charity–and that this very day.
Dr. Stockmann. And what does Katrine get?
Morten Kiil. Not a brass farthing. [The door of the ante-room opens. MR. HOVSTAD and ASLAKSEN are seen outside it.] Do you see these two there?
Dr. Stockmann [staring at them]. What! And they actually dare to come to me here!
Hovstad. Why, of course we do.
Aslaksen. You see there is something we want to talk to you about.
Morten Kiil. [whispers.] Yes or no–by two o'clock. Aslaksen. [with a glance at Hovstad.] Aha!
(Exit MORTEN KIIL)
Dr. Stockmann. Well, what is it you want with me? Be brief.
Hovstad. I can very well understand that you resent our conduct at the meeting yesterday–
Dr. Stockmann. And that's what you call conduct! Yes, it was charming conduct! I call it misconduct–disgraceful. Shame upon you!
Hovstad. Call it what you will; but we could not do otherwise.
Dr. Stockmann. You dared not, I suppose? Is not that so?
Hovstad. Yes, if you will have it.
Aslaksen. But why didn't you drop a word beforehand? Just the merest hint to Mr. Hovstad or to me?
Dr. Stockmann. A hint? What about?
Aslaksen. About what was at the bottom of it.
Dr. Stockmann. I don't in the least understand you.
Aslaksen. [nods familiarly]. Oh! yes you do, Dr. Stockmann.
Hovstad. It's no good concealing it any longer now.
Dr. Stockmann [Looking from one to the other]. Yes; but in the devil's own name–!
Aslaksen. May I ask–isn't your father-in-law going about the town and buying up all the shares in the Baths?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, he has bought shares in the Baths to-day, but–
Aslaksen. It would have been wiser if you'd set somebody else to do that–someone not so closely connected with you.
Hovstad. And then you ought not to have appeared under your own name. No one need have known that the attack on the Baths came from you. You should have taken me into your counsels, Dr. Stockmann.
Dr. Stockmann [stares straight in front of him; a light seems to break in upon him, and he looks thunder-stricken]. Are such things possible? Can such things be?
Hovstad [smiling]. Well, we've seen they can. But you see it ought all to have been managed with finesse.
Hovstad. And then, too, you ought to have had several in it; for you know the responsibility is less for the individual when it is shared by others.
Dr. Stockmann [calmly]. In one word, gentlemen, what is it you want?
Aslaksen. Mr. Hovstad can best–
Hovstad. No, you explain, Aslaksen.
Aslaksen. Well, it's this; now that we know how the whole matter stands, we believe we shall be able to place the People's Messenger at your disposal.
Dr. Stockmann. You dare do so, now? But how about public opinion? Aren't you afraid that a storm will burst out against us?
Hovstad. We must strive to ride out the storm.
Aslaksen. And the doctor try to manage his face-about with dexterity. As soon as your attack has produced its effect–
Dr. Stockmann. As soon as my father-in-law and I have bought up the shares at a low price, you mean.
Hovstad. No doubt it is scientific reasons principally that have impelled you to take over the direction of the Baths.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course; it was for scientific reasons that I made the old Badger go and buy up these shares. And then we'll tinker up the water-works a bit, and then dig about a bit by the shore down there, without it costing the town a half-crown. Don't you think that can be done? Hm?
Hovstad. I think so–if you have the Messenger to back you up.
Aslaksen. In a free society the press is a power, Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, indeed, and so is public opinion; and you, Mr. Aslaksen–I suppose you'll be answerable for the Householders' Association?
Aslaksen. Both for the Association and the Moderation Society. You may rely upon that.
Dr. Stockmann. But, gentlemen–really I am quite ashamed to mention such a thing–but–what return?
Hovstad. Of course, you know we should be best pleased to give you our support for nothing. But the Messenger is not very firmly established; it is not getting on as it ought; and just now, that there is so much to be done in general politics, I should be very sorry to have to stop the paper.
Dr. Stockmann. Naturally; that would be very hard for a friend of the people like you. [Flaring up.] But I–I am an enemy of the people! [Walking about the room.] Wherever is my stick? Where the devil's my stick?
Hovstad. What do you mean?
Aslaksen. Surely you would not–
Dr. Stockmann. [standing still]. And now, suppose I don't give you a single farthing out of all my shares? You must remember that we rich folk don't like parting with our money.
Hovstad. And you must remember that this business of the shares can be represented in two ways.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, you're the man for that; if I don't come to the rescue of the Messenger, you'll certainly see the affair in an evil light; you'll hunt me down, I suppose–bait me, try to strangle me as the dog does the hare.
Hovstad. That is a law of nature–every animal wishes to live.
Aslaksen. And must take its food where he can find it, you know.
Dr. Stockmann. Then, go and see if you can't find some out there in the gutter [rushes about the room]; for now, by Heaven! we'll see which is the strongest animal of us three. [Finds umbrella and swings it.] Now, look here–
Hovstad. You surely don't mean to use violence to us!
Aslaksen. I say, take care of that umbrella!
Dr. Stockmann. Out at the window with you, Mr. Hovstad!
Hovstad. [by the door of the ante-room]. Are you quite mad?
Dr. Stockmann. Out at the window, Mr. Aslaksen! Jump, I tell you! As well first as last.
Aslaksen. [running round the writing-table]. Be moderate, doctor. I'm a delicate man; I can stand so little. [Screams]. Help! help!
[MRS. STOCKMANN, PETRA, and HORSTER enter from sitting- room.]
Mrs. Stockmann. Good Heavens! Thomas, whatever is the matter?
Dr. Stockmann. [brandishing the umbrella]. Jump out, I tell you. Out into the gutter.
Hovstad. An assault upon a defenceless man! I call you to witness, Captain Horster.
[Rushes off through the sitting-room.]
Aslaksen [at his wit's end]. If only I knew the local conditions–
[He slinks out through the sitting-room door.]
Mrs. Stockmann [holding back the doctor]. Now, do restrain yourself, Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann [throwing down umbrella]. On my soul, they've got off after all.
Mrs. Stockmann. But what do they want with you?
Dr. Stockmann. You shall hear that later; I've other matters to think of now. [Goes to table and writes on a card.] Look here, Katrine, what's written here?
Mrs. Stockmann. Three big Noes; what is that?
Dr. Stockmann. That, too, you shall learn later. [Handing card.] There, Petra; let the girl run to the Badger's with this as fast as she can. Be quick!
[PETRA goes out through the ante-room with the card.]
Dr. Stockmann. Well, if I haven't had visits to-day from all the emissaries of the devil, I don't know! But now I'll sharpen my pen against them till it is a dagger; I will dip it into venom and gall; I'll hurl my inkstand straight at their skulls.
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, but we're to go away, Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. Well!
Petra. All right.
Dr. Stockmann. Good. Go away, do you say? No, I'll be damned if we do; we stay where we are, Katrine.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, here; here is the field of battle; here it shall be fought; here I will conquer! Now, as soon as my trousers are sewn up I'll go out into the town and look after a house, for we must have a roof over our heads, for the winter.
Horster. That you can have with me.
Dr. Stockmann. Can I?
Horster. Yes, indeed, you can. I've room enough, and, besides, I'm hardly ever at home.
Mrs. Stockmann. Ah! How good it is of you, Horster.
Petra. Thank you.
Dr. Stockmann. [holding out hand]. Thanks, thanks! So that trouble, too, is over. And this very day I shall start on my work in earnest. Ah! there is so much to root out here, Katrine! But it's a good thing I've all my time at my disposal now; yes, for you know I've had notice from the Baths.
Mrs. Stockmann. [sighing]. Ah, yes! I was expecting that.
Dr. Stockmann. –And now they want to take my practice in the bargain. But let them! The poor I shall keep, anyhow–those who can't pay anything; and, good Lord! it's they who have most need of me. But, by Heaven! I swear they shall hear me; I will preach to them in season and out of season, as it is written somewhere.
Morten Kiil. Dear Thomas, I fancy you've seen what good preaching does.
Dr. Stockmann. You really are ridiculous, Katrine. Should I let myself be beaten off the field by public opinion, and the compact majority, and such devilry? No, thanks. Besides, what I want is so simple, so clear and straight-forward. I only want to drive into the heads of these curs that the Liberals are the worst foes of free men; that party-programmes wring the necks of all young living truths; that considerations of expediency turn morality and righteousness upside down, until life is simply hideous. Yes, Captain Horster, don't you think I shall be able to make the people understand that?
Horster. Maybe; I don't know much about such matters myself.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, you see–now you shall hear! It is the party-leaders who must be got rid of. For you see, a party-leader is just like a wolf–like a starving wolf; if he is to exist at all he needs so many small beasts a-year. Just look at Hovstad and Aslaksen! How many small beasts do not they devour; or else they mangle them and knock them about, so that they're fit for nothing else but householders and subscribers to the People's Messenger. [Sits on edge of table]. Now, Katrine, just come here; see how bravely the sun shines to-day. And the blessed fresh spring air, too, blowing in upon me.
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, if only we could live on sunshine and spring air, Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, you'll have to pinch and save where you can–then it'll be all right. That's my least concern. Now what does trouble me is, that I don't see any man free and brave enough to dare to take up my work after me.
Petra. Ah! don't think of that, father. You have time before you. Why, see, there are the boys already.
[EJLIF and MORTEN enter from the sitting-room]
Mrs. Stockmann. Have you had a holiday to-day?
Morten. No; but we had a fight with the other fellows in the play-time–
Ejlif. That's not true; it was the other fellows who fought us.
Morten. Yes, and so Mr. Rorlund said it would be best if we stayed at home for a few days.
Dr. Stockmann [snapping his fingers and springing down from the table]. Now I have it, now I have it, on my soul! Never shall you set foot in school again!
The boys. Never go to school!
Mrs. Stockmann. But really, Thomas–
Dr. Stockmann. Never, I say. I'll teach you myself–that is to say, I'll not teach you any blessed thing.
Dr. Stockmann. – but I'll make free, noble-minded men of you. Look here, you'll have to help me, Petra.
Petra. Yes, father, you may be sure I will.
Dr. Stockmann. And we'll have our school in the room where they reviled me as an enemy of the people. But we must have more pupils. I must have at lease twelve boys to begin with.
Mrs. Stockmann. You'll never get them here in this town.
Dr. Stockmann. We shall see that. [To the boys.] Don't you know any street-boys–some regular ragamuffins–?
Morten. Yes, father, I know lots!
Dr. Stockmann. That's all right; bring me a few specimens of them. I want to experiment with the good-for-nothings for once–there may be some good heads amongst them.
Morten. But what are we to do when we've become free and noble-minded men?
Dr. Stockmann. Drive all the wolves out to the far west, boys.
[EJLIF looks rather doubtful; MORTEN jumps about, shouting hurrah!]
Mrs. Stockmann. If only the wolves don't drive you out, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. You are quite mad, Katrine! Drive me away! now that I'm the strongest man in the town.
Mrs. Stockmann. The strongest–now?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, I dare to say so bold a word; that now I'm one of the strongest men upon earth.
Morten. I say, father!
Dr. Stockmann [in a subdued voice]. Hush! you must not speak about it yet; but I have made a great discovery.
Mrs. Stockmann. What, again?
Dr. Stockmann. Assuredly. [Gathers them about him, and speaks confidently]. You see, the fact is that the strongest man upon earth is he who stands most alone.
Mrs. Stockmann. [shakes her head smiling]. Ah! Thomas–!
Petra [taking his hands trustfully]. Father!