(SCENE.—DR. STOCKMANN’S sitting-room. It is evening. The room is plainly but neatly appointed and furnished. In the right-hand wall are two doors; the farther leads out to the hall, the nearer to the doctor’s study. In the left-hand wall, opposite the door leading to the hall, is a door leading to the other rooms occupied by the family. In the middle of the same wall stands the stove, and, further forward, a couch with a looking-glass hanging over it and an oval table in front of it. On the table, a lighted lamp, with a lampshade. At the back of the room, an open door leads to the dining-room. BILLING is seen sitting at the dining table, on which a lamp is burning. He has a napkin tucked under his chin, and MRS. STOCKMANN is standing by the table handing him a large plate-full of roast beef. The other places at the table are empty, and the table somewhat in disorder, evidently a meal having recently been finished.)
Mrs. Stockmann. You see, if you come an hour late, Mr. Billing, you have to put up with cold meat.
Billing (as he eats). It is uncommonly good, thank you—remarkably good.
Mrs. Stockmann. My husband makes such a point of having his meals punctually, you know.
Billing. That doesn’t affect me a bit. Indeed, I almost think I enjoy a meal all the better when I can sit down and eat all by myself, and undisturbed.
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh well, as long as you are enjoying it—. (Turns to the hall door, listening.) I expect that is Mr. Hovstad coming too.
Billing. Very likely.
(PETER STOCKMANN comes in. He wears an overcoat and his official hat, and carries a stick.)
Peter Stockmann. Good evening, Katherine.
Mrs. Stockmann (coming forward into the sitting-room). Ah, good evening—is it you? How good of you to come up and see us!
Peter Stockmann. I happened to be passing, and so—(looks into the dining-room). But you have company with you, I see.
Mrs. Stockmann (a little embarrassed). Oh, no—it was quite by chance he came in. (Hurriedly.) Won’t you come in and have something, too?
Peter Stockmann. I! No, thank you. Good gracious—hot meat at night! Not with my digestion.
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, but just once in a way—
Peter Stockmann. No, no, my dear lady; I stick to my tea and bread and butter. It is much more wholesome in the long run—and a little more economical, too.
Mrs. Stockmann (smiling). Now you mustn’t think that Thomas and I are spendthrifts.
Peter Stockmann. Not you, my dear; I would never think that of you. (Points to the Doctor’s study.) Is he not at home?
Mrs. Stockmann. No, he went out for a little turn after supper—he and the boys.
Peter Stockmann. I doubt if that is a wise thing to do. (Listens.) I fancy I hear him coming now.
Mrs. Stockmann. No, I don’t think it is he. (A knock is heard at the door.) Come in! (HOVSTAD comes in from the hall.) Oh, it is you, Mr. Hovstad!
Hovstad. Yes, I hope you will forgive me, but I was delayed at the printers. Good evening, Mr. Mayor.
Peter Stockmann (bowing a little distantly). Good evening. You have come on business, no doubt.
Hovstad. Partly. It’s about an article for the paper.
Peter Stockmann. So I imagined. I hear my brother has become a prolific contributor to the “People’s Messenger.”
Hovstad. Yes, he is good enough to write in the “People’s Messenger” when he has any home truths to tell.
Mrs. Stockmann (to HOVSTAD). But won’t you—? (Points to the dining-room.)
Peter Stockmann. Quite so, quite so. I don’t blame him in the least, as a writer, for addressing himself to the quarters where he will find the readiest sympathy. And, besides that, I personally have no reason to bear any ill will to your paper, Mr. Hovstad.
Hovstad. I quite agree with you.
Peter Stockmann. Taking one thing with another, there is an excellent spirit of toleration in the town—an admirable municipal spirit. And it all springs from the fact of our having a great common interest to unite us—an interest that is in an equally high degree the concern of every right-minded citizen.
Hovstad. The Baths, yes.
Peter Stockmann. Exactly—-our fine, new, handsome Baths. Mark my words, Mr. Hovstad—the Baths will become the focus of our municipal life! Not a doubt of it!
Mrs. Stockmann. That is just what Thomas says.
Peter Stockmann. Think how extraordinarily the place has developed within the last year or two! Money has been flowing in, and there is some life and some business doing in the town. Houses and landed property are rising in value every day.
Hovstad. And unemployment is diminishing,
Peter Stockmann. Yes, that is another thing. The burden on the poor rates has been lightened, to the great relief of the propertied classes; and that relief will be even greater if only we get a really good summer this year, and lots of visitors—plenty of invalids, who will make the Baths talked about.
Hovstad. And there is a good prospect of that, I hear.
Peter Stockmann. It looks very promising. Inquiries about apartments and that sort of thing are reaching us, every day.
Hovstad. Well, the doctor’s article will come in very suitably.
Peter Stockmann. Has he been writing something just lately?
Hovstad. This is something he wrote in the winter; a recommendation of the Baths—an account of the excellent sanitary conditions here. But I held the article over, temporarily.
Peter Stockmann. Ah,—some little difficulty about it, I suppose?
Hovstad. No, not at all; I thought it would be better to wait until the spring, because it is just at this time that people begin to think seriously about their summer quarters.
Peter Stockmann. Quite right; you were perfectly right, Mr. Hovstad.
Hovstad. Yes, Thomas is really indefatigable when it is a question of the Baths.
Peter Stockmann. Well remember, he is the Medical Officer to the Baths.
Hovstad. Yes, and what is more, they owe their existence to him.
Peter Stockmann. To him? Indeed! It is true I have heard from time to time that some people are of that opinion. At the same time I must say I imagined that I took a modest part in the enterprise.
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, that is what Thomas is always saying.
Hovstad. But who denies it, Mr. Stockmann? You set the thing going and made a practical concern of it; we all know that. I only meant that the idea of it came first from the doctor.
Peter Stockmann. Oh, ideas yes! My brother has had plenty of them in his time—unfortunately. But when it is a question of putting an idea into practical shape, you have to apply to a man of different mettle, Mr. Hovstad. And I certainly should have thought that in this house at least…
Mrs. Stockmann. My dear Peter—
Hovstad. How can you think that—?
Mrs. Stockmann. Won’t you go in and have something, Mr. Hovstad? My husband is sure to be back directly.
Hovstad. Thank you, perhaps just a morsel. (Goes into the dining-room.)
Peter Stockmann (lowering his voice a little). It is a curious thing that these farmers’ sons never seem to lose their want of tact.
Mrs. Stockmann. Surely it is not worth bothering about! Cannot you and Thomas share the credit as brothers?
Peter Stockmann. I should have thought so; but apparently some people are not satisfied with a share.
Mrs. Stockmann. What nonsense! You and Thomas get on so capitally together. (Listens.) There he is at last, I think. (Goes out and opens the door leading to the hall.)
Dr. Stockmann (laughing and talking outside). Look here—here is another guest for you, Katherine. Isn’t that jolly! Come in, Captain Horster; hang your coat up on this peg. Ah, you don’t wear an overcoat. Just think, Katherine; I met him in the street and could hardly persuade him to come up! (CAPTAIN HORSTER comes into the room and greets MRS. STOCKMANN. He is followed by DR. STOCKMANN.) Come along in, boys. They are ravenously hungry again, you know. Come along, Captain Horster; you must have a slice of beef. (Pushes HORSTER into the dining-room. EJLIF and MORTEN go in after them.)
Mrs. Stockmann. But, Thomas, don’t you see—?
Dr. Stockmann (turning in the doorway). Oh, is it you, Peter? (Shakes hands with him.) Now that is very delightful.
Peter Stockmann. Unfortunately I must go in a moment—
Dr. Stockmann. Rubbish! There is some toddy just coming in. You haven’t forgotten the toddy, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann. Of course not; the water is boiling now. (Goes into the dining-room.)
Peter Stockmann. Toddy too!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, sit down and we will have it comfortably.
Peter Stockmann. Thanks, I never care about an evening’s drinking.
Dr. Stockmann. But this isn’t an evening’s drinking.
Peter Stockmann. It seems to me—. (Looks towards the dining-room.) It is extraordinary how they can put away all that food.
Dr. Stockmann (rubbing his hands). Yes, isn’t it splendid to see young people eat? They have always got an appetite, you know! That’s as it should be. Lots of food—to build up their strength! They are the people who are going to stir up the fermenting forces of the future, Peter.
Peter Stockmann. May I ask what they will find here to “stir up,” as you put it?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, you must ask the young people that—when the times comes. We shan’t be able to see it, of course. That stands to reason—two old fogies, like us.
Peter Stockmann. Really, really! I must say that is an extremely odd expression to—
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, you mustn’t take me too literally, Peter. I am so heartily happy and contented, you know. I think it is such an extraordinary piece of good fortune to be in the middle of all this growing, germinating life. It is a splendid time to live in! It is as if a whole new world were being created around one.
Peter Stockmann. Do you really think so?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, naturally you can’t appreciate it as keenly as I. You have lived all your life in these surroundings, and your impressions have been blunted. But I, who have been buried all these years in my little corner up north, almost without ever seeing a stranger who might bring new ideas with him—well, in my case it has just the same effect as if I had been transported into the middle of a crowded city.
Peter Stockmann. Oh, a city—!
Dr. Stockmann. I know, I know; it is all cramped enough here, compared with many other places. But there is life here—there is promise—there are innumerable things to work for and fight for; and that is the main thing. (Calls.) Katherine, hasn’t the postman been here?
Mrs. Stockmann (from the dining-room). No.
Dr. Stockmann. And then to be comfortably off, Peter! That is something one learns to value, when one has been on the brink of starvation, as we have.
Peter Stockmann. Oh, surely—
Dr. Stockmann. Indeed I can assure you we have often been very hard put to it, up there. And now to be able to live like a lord! Today, for instance, we had roast beef for dinner—and, what is more, for supper too. Won’t you come and have a little bit? Or let me show it you, at any rate? Come here—
Peter Stockmann. No, no—not for worlds!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, but just come here then. Do you see, we have got a table-cover?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, I noticed it.
Dr. Stockmann. And we have got a lamp-shade too. Do you see? All out of Katherine’s savings! It makes the room so cosy. Don’t you think so? Just stand here for a moment—no, no, not there—just here, that’s it! Look now, when you get the light on it altogether. I really think it looks very nice, doesn’t it?
Peter Stockmann. Oh, if you can afford luxuries of this kind—
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, I can afford it now. Katherine tells me I earn almost as much as we spend.
Peter Stockmann. Almost—yes!
Dr. Stockmann. But a scientific man must live in a little bit of style. I am quite sure an ordinary civil servant spends more in a year than I do.
Peter Stockmann. I daresay. A civil servant—a man in a well-paid position…
Dr. Stockmann. Well, any ordinary merchant, then! A man in that position spends two or three times as much as—
Peter Stockmann. It just depends on circumstances.
Dr. Stockmann. At all events I assure you I don’t waste money unprofitably. But I can’t find it in my heart to deny myself the pleasure of entertaining my friends. I need that sort of thing, you know. I have lived for so long shut out of it all, that it is a necessity of life to me to mix with young, eager, ambitious men, men of liberal and active minds; and that describes every one of those fellows who are enjoying their supper in there. I wish you knew more of Hovstad.
Peter Stockmann. By the way, Hovstad was telling me he was going to print another article of yours.
Dr. Stockmann. An article of mine?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, about the Baths. An article you wrote in the winter.
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, that one! No, I don’t intend that to appear just for the present.
Peter Stockmann. Why not? It seems to me that this would be the most opportune moment.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, very likely—under normal conditions. (Crosses the room.)
Peter Stockmann (following him with his eyes). Is there anything abnormal about the present conditions?
Dr. Stockmann (standing still). To tell you the truth, Peter, I can’t say just at this moment—at all events not tonight. There may be much that is very abnormal about the present conditions—and it is possible there may be nothing abnormal about them at all. It is quite possible it may be merely my imagination.
Peter Stockmann. I must say it all sounds most mysterious. Is there something going on that I am to be kept in ignorance of? I should have imagined that I, as Chairman of the governing body of the Baths—
Dr. Stockmann. And I should have imagined that I—. Oh, come, don’t let us fly out at one another, Peter.
Peter Stockmann. Heaven forbid! I am not in the habit of flying out at people, as you call it. But I am entitled to request most emphatically that all arrangements shall be made in a businesslike manner, through the proper channels, and shall be dealt with by the legally constituted authorities. I can allow no going behind our backs by any roundabout means.
Dr. Stockmann. Have I ever at any time tried to go behind your backs?
Peter Stockmann. You have an ingrained tendency to take your own way, at all events; and, that is almost equally inadmissible in a well ordered community. The individual ought undoubtedly to acquiesce in subordinating himself to the community—or, to speak more accurately, to the authorities who have the care of the community’s welfare.
Dr. Stockmann. Very likely. But what the deuce has all this got to do with me?
Peter Stockmann. That is exactly what you never appear to be willing to learn, my dear Thomas. But, mark my words, some day you will have to suffer for it—sooner or later. Now I have told you. Good-bye.
Dr. Stockmann. Have you taken leave of your senses? You are on the wrong scent altogether.
Peter Stockmann. I am not usually that. You must excuse me now if I— (calls into the dining-room). Good night, Katherine. Good night, gentlemen. (Goes out.)
Mrs. Stockmann (coming from the dining-room). Has he gone?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and in such a bad temper.
Mrs. Stockmann. But, dear Thomas, what have you been doing to him again?
Dr. Stockmann. Nothing at all. And, anyhow, he can’t oblige me to make my report before the proper time.
Mrs. Stockmann. What have you got to make a report to him about?
Dr. Stockmann. Hm! Leave that to me, Katherine. It is an extraordinary thing that the postman doesn’t come.
(HOVSTAD, BILLING and HORSTER have got up from the table and come into the sitting-room. EJLIF and MORTEN come in after them.)
Billing (stretching himself). Ah!—one feels a new man after a meal like that.
Hovstad. The mayor wasn’t in a very sweet temper tonight, then.
Dr. Stockmann. It is his stomach; he has wretched digestion.
Hovstad. I rather think it was us two of the “People’s Messenger” that he couldn’t digest.
Mrs. Stockmann. I thought you came out of it pretty well with him.
Hovstad. Oh yes; but it isn’t anything more than a sort of truce.
Billing. That is just what it is! That word sums up the situation.
Dr. Stockmann. We must remember that Peter is a lonely man, poor chap. He has no home comforts of any kind; nothing but everlasting business. And all that infernal weak tea wash that he pours into himself! Now then, my boys, bring chairs up to the table. Aren’t we going to have that toddy, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann (going into the dining-room). I am just getting it.
Dr. Stockmann. Sit down here on the couch beside me, Captain Horster. We so seldom see you. Please sit down, my friends. (They sit down at the table. MRS. STOCKMANN brings a tray, with a spirit-lamp, glasses, bottles, etc., upon it.)
Mrs. Stockmann. There you are! This is arrack, and this is rum, and this one is the brandy. Now every one must help themselves.
Dr. Stockmann (taking a glass). We will. (They all mix themselves some toddy.) And let us have the cigars. Ejlif, you know where the box is. And you, Morten, can fetch my pipe. (The two boys go into the room on the right.) I have a suspicion that Ejlif pockets a cigar now and then!—but I take no notice of it. (Calls out.) And my smoking-cap too, Morten. Katherine, you can tell him where I left it. Ah, he has got it. (The boys bring the various things.) Now, my friends. I stick to my pipe, you know. This one has seen plenty of bad weather with me up north. (Touches glasses with them.) Your good health! Ah, it is good to be sitting snug and warm here.
Mrs. Stockmann (who sits knitting). Do you sail soon, Captain Horster?
Horster. I expect to be ready to sail next week.
Mrs. Stockmann. I suppose you are going to America?
Horster. Yes, that is the plan.
Mrs. Stockmann. Then you won’t be able to take part in the coming election?
Horster. Is there going to be an election?
Billing. Didn’t you know?
Horster. No, I don’t mix myself up with those things.
Billing. But do you not take an interest in public affairs?
Horster. No, I don’t know anything about politics.
Billing. All the same, one ought to vote, at any rate.
Horster. Even if one doesn’t know anything about what is going on?
Billing. Doesn’t know! What do you mean by that? A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.
Horster. Maybe that is all very well on shore; but on board ship it wouldn’t work.
Hovstad. It is astonishing how little most sailors care about what goes on on shore.
Billing. Very extraordinary.
Dr. Stockmann. Sailors are like birds of passage; they feel equally at home in any latitude. And that is only an additional reason for our being all the more keen, Hovstad. Is there to be anything of public interest in tomorrow’s “Messenger”?
Hovstad. Nothing about municipal affairs. But the day after tomorrow I was thinking of printing your article—
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, devil take it—my article! Look here, that must wait a bit.
Hovstad. Really? We had just got convenient space for it, and I thought it was just the opportune moment—
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, yes, very likely you are right; but it must wait all the same. I will explain to you later. (PETRA comes in from the hall, in hat and cloak and with a bundle of exercise books under her arm.)
Petra. Good evening.
Dr. Stockmann. Good evening, Petra; come along.
(Mutual greetings; PETRA takes off her things and puts them down on a chair by the door.)
Petra. And you have all been sitting here enjoying yourselves, while I have been out slaving!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, come and enjoy yourself too!
Billing. May I mix a glass for you?
Petra (coming to the table). Thanks, I would rather do it; you always mix it too strong. But I forgot, father—I have a letter for you. (Goes to the chair where she has laid her things.)
Dr. Stockmann. A letter? From whom?
Petra (looking in her coat pocket). The postman gave it to me just as I was going out.
Dr. Stockmann (getting up and going to her). And you only give to me now!
Petra. I really had not time to run up again. There it is!
Dr. Stockmann (seizing the letter). Let’s see, let’s see, child! (Looks at the address.) Yes, that’s all right!
Mrs. Stockmann. Is it the one you have been expecting go anxiously, Thomas?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, it is. I must go to my room now and— Where shall I get a light, Katherine? Is there no lamp in my room again?
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, your lamp is already lit on your desk.
Dr. Stockmann. Good, good. Excuse me for a moment—, (Goes into his study.)
Petra. What do you suppose it is, mother?
Mrs. Stockmann. I don’t know; for the last day or two he has always been asking if the postman has not been.
Billing. Probably some country patient.
Petra. Poor old dad!—he will overwork himself soon. (Mixes a glass for herself.) There, that will taste good!
Hovstad. Have you been teaching in the evening school again today?
Petra (sipping from her glass). Two hours.
Billing. And four hours of school in the morning?
Petra. Five hours.
Mrs. Stockmann. And you have still got exercises to correct, I see.
Petra. A whole heap, yes.
Horster. You are pretty full up with work too, it seems to me.
Petra. Yes—but that is good. One is so delightfully tired after it.
Billing. Do you like that?
Petra. Yes, because one sleeps so well then.
Morten. You must be dreadfully wicked, Petra.
Morten. Yes, because you work so much. Mr. Rorlund says work is a punishment for our sins.
Ejlif. Pooh, what a duffer, you are, to believe a thing like that!
Mrs. Stockmann. Come, come, Ejlif!
Billing (laughing). That’s capital!
Hovstad. Don’t you want to work as hard as that, Morten?
Morten. No, indeed I don’t.
Hovstad. What do you want to be, then?
Morten. I should like best to be a Viking,
Ejlif. You would have to be a pagan then.
Morten. Well, I could become a pagan, couldn’t I?
Billing. I agree with you, Morten! My sentiments, exactly.
Mrs. Stockmann (signalling to him). I am sure that is not true, Mr. Billing.
Billing. Yes, I swear it is! I am a pagan, and I am proud of it. Believe me, before long we shall all be pagans.
Morten. And then shall be allowed to do anything we like?
Billing. Well, you’ll see, Morten.
Mrs. Stockmann. You must go to your room now, boys; I am sure you have some lessons to learn for tomorrow.
Ejlif. I should like so much to stay a little longer—
Mrs. Stockmann. No, no; away you go, both of you, (The boys say good night and go into the room on the left.)
Hovstad. Do you really think it can do the boys any harm to hear such things?
Mrs. Stockmann. I don’t know; but I don’t like it.
Petra. But you know, mother, I think you really are wrong about it.
Mrs. Stockmann. Maybe, but I don’t like it—not in our own home.
Petra. There is so much falsehood both at home and at school. At home one must not speak, and at school we have to stand and tell lies to the children.
Horster. Tell lies?
Petra. Yes, don’t you suppose we have to teach them all sorts of things that we don’t believe?
Billing. That is perfectly true.
Petra. If only I had the means, I would start a school of my own; and it would be conducted on very different lines.
Billing. Oh, bother the means—!
Horster. Well if you are thinking of that, Miss Stockmann, I shall be delighted to provide you with a schoolroom. The great big old house my father left me is standing almost empty; there is an immense dining-room downstairs—
Petra (laughing). Thank you very much; but I am afraid nothing will come of it.
Hovstad. No, Miss Petra is much more likely to take to journalism, I expect. By the way, have you had time to do anything with that English story you promised to translate for us?
Petra. No, not yet, but you shall have it in good time.
(DR. STOCKMANN comes in from his room with an open letter in his hand.)
Dr. Stockmann (waving the letter). Well, now the town will have something new to talk about, I can tell you!
Billing. Something new?
Mrs. Stockmann. What is this?
Dr. Stockmann. A great discovery, Katherine.
Mrs. Stockmann. A discovery of yours?
Dr. Stockmann. A discovery of mine. (Walks up and down.) Just let them come saying, as usual, that it is all fancy and a crazy man’s imagination! But they will be careful what they say this time, I can tell you!
Petra. But, father, tell us what it is.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, yes—only give me time, and you shall know all about it. If only I had Peter here now! It just shows how we men can go about forming our judgments, when in reality we are as blind as any moles—
Hovstad. What are you driving at, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann (standing still by the table). Isn’t it the universal opinion that our town is a healthy spot?
Dr. Stockmann. Quite an unusually healthy spot, in fact—a place that deserves to be recommended in the warmest possible manner either for invalids or for people who are well—
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, but my dear Thomas—
Dr. Stockmann. And we have been recommending it and praising it—I have written and written, both in the “Messenger” and in pamphlets…
Hovstad. Well, what then?
Dr. Stockmann. And the Baths—we have called them the “main artery of the town’s life-blood,” the “nerve-centre of our town,” and the devil knows what else—
Billing. “The town’s pulsating heart” was the expression I once used on an important occasion.
Dr. Stockmann. Quite so. Well, do you know what they really are, these great, splendid, much praised Baths, that have cost so much money—do you know what they are?
Hovstad. No, what are they?
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, what are they?
Dr. Stockmann. The whole place is a pest-house!
Petra. The Baths, father?
Mrs. Stockmann (at the same time), Our Baths?
Hovstad. But, Doctor—
Billing. Absolutely incredible!
Dr. Stockmann. The whole Bath establishment is a whited, poisoned sepulchre, I tell you—the gravest possible danger to the public health! All the nastiness up at Molledal, all that stinking filth, is infecting the water in the conduit-pipes leading to the reservoir; and the same cursed, filthy poison oozes out on the shore too—
Horster. Where the bathing-place is?
Dr. Stockmann. Just there.
Hovstad. How do you come to be so certain of all this, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann. I have investigated the matter most conscientiously. For a long time past I have suspected something of the kind. Last year we had some very strange cases of illness among the visitors—typhoid cases, and cases of gastric fever—
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, that is quite true.
Dr. Stockmann. At the time, we supposed the visitors had been infected before they came; but later on, in the winter, I began to have a different opinion; and so I set myself to examine the water, as well as I could.
Mrs. Stockmann. Then that is what you have been so busy with?
Dr. Stockmann. Indeed I have been busy, Katherine. But here I had none of the necessary scientific apparatus; so I sent samples, both of the drinking-water and of the sea-water, up to the University, to have an accurate analysis made by a chemist.
Hovstad. And have you got that?
Dr. Stockmann (showing him the letter). Here it is! It proves the presence of decomposing organic matter in the water—it is full of infusoria. The water is absolutely dangerous to use, either internally or externally.
Mrs. Stockmann. What a mercy you discovered it in time.
Dr. Stockmann. You may well say so.
Hovstad. And what do you propose to do now, Doctor?
Dr. Stockmann. To see the matter put right, naturally.
Hovstad. Can that be done?
Dr. Stockmann. It must be done. Otherwise the Baths will be absolutely useless and wasted. But we need not anticipate that; I have a very clear idea what we shall have to do.
Mrs. Stockmann. But why have you kept this all so secret, dear?
Dr. Stockmann. Do you suppose I was going to run about the town gossiping about it, before I had absolute proof? No, thank you. I am not such a fool.
Petra. Still, you might have told us—
Dr. Stockmann. Not a living soul. But tomorrow you may run around to the old Badger—
Mrs. Stockmann. Oh, Thomas! Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, to your grandfather, then. The old boy will have something to be astonished at! I know he thinks I am cracked—and there are lots of other people who think so too, I have noticed. But now these good folks shall see—they shall just see! (Walks about, rubbing his hands.) There will be a nice upset in the town, Katherine; you can’t imagine what it will be. All the conduit-pipes will have to be relaid.
Hovstad (getting up). All the conduit-pipes—?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, of course. The intake is too low down; it will have to be lifted to a position much higher up.
Petra. Then you were right after all.
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, you remember, Petra—I wrote opposing the plans before the work was begun. But at that time no one would listen to me. Well, I am going to let them have it now. Of course I have prepared a report for the Baths Committee; I have had it ready for a week, and was only waiting for this to come. (Shows the letter.) Now it shall go off at once. (Goes into his room and comes back with some papers.) Look at that! Four closely written sheets!—and the letter shall go with them. Give me a bit of paper, Katherine—something to wrap them up in. That will do! Now give it to-to-(stamps his foot)—what the deuce is her name?—give it to the maid, and tell her to take it at once to the Mayor.
(Mrs. Stockmann takes the packet and goes out through the dining-room.)
Petra. What do you think Uncle Peter will say, father?
Dr. Stockmann. What is there for him to say? I should think he would be very glad that such an important truth has been brought to light.
Hovstad. Will you let me print a short note about your discovery in the “Messenger?”
Dr. Stockmann. I shall be very much obliged if you will.
Hovstad. It is very desirable that the public should be informed of it without delay.
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly.
Mrs. Stockmann (coming back). She has just gone with it.
Billing. Upon my soul, Doctor, you are going to be the foremost man in the town!
Dr. Stockmann (walking about happily). Nonsense! As a matter of
fact I have done nothing more than my duty. I have only made a lucky find—that’s all. Still, all the same…
Billing. Hovstad, don’t you think the town ought to give Dr. Stockmann some sort of testimonial?
Hovstad. I will suggest it, anyway.
Billing. And I will speak to Aslaksen about it.
Dr. Stockmann. No, my good friends, don’t let us have any of that nonsense. I won’t hear anything of the kind. And if the Baths Committee should think of voting me an increase of salary, I will not accept it. Do you hear, Katherine?—I won’t accept it.
Mrs. Stockmann. You are quite right, Thomas.
Petra (lifting her glass). Your health, father!
Hovstad and Billing. Your health, Doctor! Good health!
Horster (touches glasses with DR. STOCKMANN). I hope it will bring you nothing but good luck.
Dr. Stockmann. Thank you, thank you, my dear fellows! I feel tremendously happy! It is a splendid thing for a man to be able to feel that he has done a service to his native town and to his fellow-citizens. Hurrah, Katherine! (He puts his arms round her and whirls her round and round, while she protests with laughing cries. They all laugh, clap their hands, and cheer the DOCTOR. The boys put their heads in at the door to see what is going on.)