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Aslaksen. Yes, I think I may pride myself on that. And this
matter of the water supply is of the greatest importance to us
small tradesmen. The Baths promise to be a regular gold-mine for
the town. We shall all make our living out of them, especially
those of us who are householders. That is why we will back up the
project as strongly as possible. And as I am at present Chairman
of the Householders' Association.

Dr. Stockmann. Yes--?

Aslaksen. And, what is more, local secretary of the Temperance
Society--you know, sir, I suppose, that I am a worker in the
temperance cause?

Dr, Stockmann. Of course, of course.

Aslaksen. Well, you can understand that I come into contact with
a great many people. And as I have the reputation of a temperate
and law-abiding citizen--like yourself, Doctor--I have a certain
influence in the town, a little bit of power, if I may be allowed
to say so.

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

Aslaksen. So you see it would be an easy matter for me to set on
foot some testimonial, if necessary.

Dr. Stockmann. A testimonial?

Aslaksen. Yes, some kind of an address of thanks from the
townsmen for your share in a matter of such importance to the
community. I need scarcely say that it would have to be drawn up
with the greatest regard to moderation, so as not to offend the
authorities--who, after all, have the reins in their hands. If we
pay strict attention to that, no one can take it amiss, I should
think!

Hovstad. Well, and even supposing they didn't like it--

Aslaksen. No, no, no; there must be no discourtesy to the
authorities, Mr. Hovstad. It is no use falling foul of those upon
whom our welfare so closely depends. I have done that in my time,
and no good ever comes of it. But no one can take exception to a
reasonable and frank expression of a citizen's views.

Dr. Stockmann (shaking him by the hand). I can't tell you, dear
Mr. Aslaksen, how extremely pleased I am to find such hearty
support among my fellow-citizens. I am delighted--delighted! Now,
you will take a small glass of sherry, eh?

Aslaksen. No, thank you; I never drink alcohol of that kind.

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

Aslaksen. Nor that either, thank you, Doctor. I never drink
anything as early as this. I am going into town now to talk this
over with one or two householders, and prepare the ground.

Dr. Stockmann. It is tremendously kind of you, Mr. Aslaksen; but
I really cannot understand the necessity for all these
precautions. It seems to me that the thing should go of itself.

Aslaksen. The authorities are somewhat slow to move, Doctor. Far
be it from me to seem to blame them--

Hovstad. We are going to stir them up in the paper tomorrow,
Aslaksen.

Aslaksen. But not violently, I trust, Mr. Hovstad. Proceed with
moderation, or you will do nothing with them. You may take my
advice; I have gathered my experience in the school of life.
Well, I must say goodbye, Doctor. You know now that we small
tradesmen are at your back at all events, like a solid wall. You
have the compact majority on your side Doctor.

Dr. Stockmann. I am very much obliged, dear Mr. Aslaksen, (Shakes
hands with him.) Goodbye, goodbye.

Aslaksen. Are you going my way, towards the printing-office. Mr.
Hovstad?

Hovstad, I will come later; I have something to settle up first.

Aslaksen. Very well. (Bows and goes out; STOCKMANN follows him
into the hall.)

Hovstad (as STOCKMANN comes in again). Well, what do you think of
that, Doctor? Don't you think it is high time we stirred a little
life into all this slackness and vacillation and cowardice?

Dr. Stockmann. Are you referring to Aslaksen?

Hovstad, Yes, I am. He is one of those who are floundering in a
bog--decent enough fellow though he may be, otherwise. And most
of the people here are in just the same case--see-sawing and
edging first to one side and then to the other, so overcome with
caution and scruple that they never dare to take any decided
step.

Dr. Stockmann, Yes, but Aslaksen seemed to me so thoroughly well-
intentioned.

Hovstad. There is one thing I esteem higher than that; and that
is for a man to be self-reliant and sure of himself.

Dr. Stockmann. I think you are perfectly right there.

Hovstad. That is why I want to seize this opportunity, and try if
I cannot manage to put a little virility into these well-
intentioned people for once. The idol of Authority must be
shattered in this town. This gross and inexcusable blunder about
the water supply must be brought home to the mind of every
municipal voter.

Dr. Stockmann. Very well; if you are of opinion that it is for
the good of the community, so be it. But not until I have had a
talk with my brother.

Hovstad. Anyway, I will get a leading article ready; and if the
Mayor refuses to take the matter up--

Dr. Stockmann. How can you suppose such a thing possible!

Hovstad. It is conceivable. And in that case--

Dr. Stockmann. In that case I promise you--. Look here, in that
case you may print my report--every word of it.

Hovstad. May I? Have I your word for it?

Dr. Stockmann (giving him the MS.). Here it is; take it with you.
It can do no harm for you to read it through, and you can give it
me back later on.

Hovstad. Good, good! That is what I will do. And now goodbye,
Doctor.

Dr. Stockmann. Goodbye, goodbye. You will see everything will
run quite smoothly, Mr. Hovstad--quite smoothly.

Hovstad. Hm!--we shall see. (Bows and goes out.)

Dr. Stockmann (opens the dining-room door and looks in).
Katherine! Oh, you are back, Petra?

Petra (coming in). Yes, I have just come from the school.

Mrs. Stockmann (coming in). Has he not been here yet?

Dr. Stockmann. Peter? No, but I have had a long talk with
Hovstad. He is quite excited about my discovery, I find it has a
much wider bearing than I atfirst imagined. And he has put his
paper
at my disposal if necessity should arise.

Mrs. Stockmann. Do you think it will?

Dr. Stockmann. Not for a moment. But at all events it makes me
feel proud to know that I have the liberal-minded independent
press on my side. Yes, and just imagine--I have had a visit from
the Chairman of the Householders' Association!

Mrs. Stockmann. Oh! What did he want?

Dr. Stockmann. To offer me his support too. They will support me
in a body if it should be necessary. Katherine--do you know what
I have got behind me?

Mrs. Stockmann. Behind you? No, what have you got behind you?

Dr. Stockmann. The compact majority.

Mrs. Stockmann. Really? Is that a good thing for you Thomas?

Dr. Stockmann. I should think it was a good thing. (Walks up and
down rubbing his hands.) By Jove, it's a fine thing to feel this
bond of brotherhood between oneself and one's fellow citizens!

Petra. And to be able to do so much that is good and useful,
father!

Dr. Stockmann. And for one's own native town into the bargain, my
child!

Mrs. Stockmann. That was a ring at the bell.




An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen
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