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Peter Stockmann. Yes. Well, since there is such a praiseworthy
spirit of self-sacrifice among the less wealthy citizens of our
town--

Aslaksen. What?

Hovstad. Self-sacrifice?

Peter Stockmann. It is pleasing evidence of a public-spirited
feeling, extremely pleasing evidence. I might almost say I hardly
expected it. But you have a closer knowledge of public opinion
than I.

Aslaksen. But, Mr. Mayor-

Peter Stockmann. And indeed it is no small sacrifice that the
town is going to make.

Hovstad. The town?

Aslaksen. But I don't understand. Is it the Baths--?

Peter Stockmann. At a provisional estimate, the alterations that
the Medical Officer asserts to be desirable will cost somewhere
about twenty thousand pounds.

Aslaksen. That is a lot of money, but--

Peter Stockmann. Of course it will be necessary to raise a
municipal loan.

Hovstad (getting up). Surely you never mean that the town must
pay--?

Aslaksen. Do you mean that it must come out of the municipal
funds?--out of the ill-filled pockets of the small tradesmen?

Peter Stockmann. Well, my dear Mr. Aslaksen, where else is the
money to come from?

Aslaksen. The gentlemen who own the Baths ought to provide that.

Peter Stockmann. The proprietors of the Baths are not in a
position to incur any further expense.

Aslaksen. Is that absolutely certain, Mr. Mayor?

Peter Stockmann. I have satisfied myself that it is so. If the
town wants these very extensive alterations, it will have to pay
for them.

Aslaksen. But, damn it all--I beg your pardon--this is quite
another matter, Mr, Hovstad!

Hovstad. It is, indeed.

Peter Stockmann. The most fatal part of it is that we shall be
obliged to shut the Baths for a couple of years.

Hovstad. Shut them? Shut them altogether?

Aslaksen. For two years?

Peter Stockmann. Yes, the work will take as long as that--at
least.

Aslaksen. I'm damned if we will stand that, Mr. Mayor! What are
we householders to live upon in the meantime?

Peter Stockmann. Unfortunately, that is an extremely difficult
question to answer, Mr. Aslaksen. But what would you have us do?
Do you suppose we shall have a single visitor in the town, if we
go about proclaiming that our water is polluted, that we are
living over a plague spot, that the entire town--

Aslaksen. And the whole thing is merely imagination?

Peter Stockmann. With the best will in the world, I have not been
able to come to any other conclusion.

Aslaksen. Well then I must say it is absolutely unjustifiable of
Dr. Stockmann--I beg your pardon, Mr. Mayor.

Peter Stockmann. What you say is lamentably true, Mr. Aslaksen.
My brother has unfortunately always been a headstrong man.

Aslaksen. After this, do you mean to give him your support, Mr.
Hovstad?

Hovstad. Can you suppose for a moment that I--?

Peter Stockmann. I have drawn up a short resume of the situation
as it appears from a reasonable man's point of view. In it I have
indicated how certain possible defects might suitably be remedied
without outrunning the resources of the Baths Committee.

Hovstad. Have you got it with you, Mr. Mayor?

Peter Stockmann (fumbling in his pocket). Yes, I brought it with
me in case you should--

Aslaksen. Good Lord, there he is!

Peter Stockmann. Who? My brother?

Hovstad. Where? Where?

Aslaksen. He has just gone through the printing room.





An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen
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