Peter Stockmann. How unlucky! I don't want to meet him here, and
I had still several things to speak to you about.
Hovstad (pointing to the door on the right). Go in there for the
Peter Stockmann. But--?
Hovstad. You will only find Billing in there.
Aslaksen. Quick, quick, Mr. Mayor--he is just coming.
Peter Stockmann. Yes, very well; but see that you get rid of him
quickly. (Goes out through the door on the right, which ASLAKSEN
opens for him and shuts after him.)
Hovstad. Pretend to be doing something, Aslaksen. (Sits down and
writes. ASLAKSEN begins foraging among a heap of newspapers that
are lying on a chair.)
Dr. Stockmann (coming in from the printing room). Here I am
again. (Puts down his hat and stick.)
Hovstad (writing). Already, Doctor? Hurry up with what we were
speaking about, Aslaksen. We are very pressed for time today.
Dr. Stockmann (to ASLAKSEN). No proof for me to see yet, I hear.
Aslaksen (without turning round). You couldn't expect it yet,
Dr. Stockmann. No, no; but I am impatient, as you can understand.
I shall not know a moment's peace of mind until I see it in
Hovstad. Hm!--It will take a good while yet, won't it, Aslaksen?
Aslaksen. Yes, I am almost afraid it will.
Dr. Stockmann. All right, my dear friends; I will come back. I do
not mind coming back twice if necessary. A matter of such great
importance--the welfare of the town at stake--it is no time to
shirk trouble, (is just going, but stops and comes back.) Look
here--there is one thing more I want to speak to you about.
Hovstad. Excuse me, but could it not wait till some other time?
Dr. Stockmann. I can tell you in half a dozen words. It is only
this. When my article is read tomorrow and it is realised that I
have been quietly working the whole winter for the welfare of the
Hovstad. Yes but, Doctor--
Dr. Stockmann. I know what you are going to say. You don't see
how on earth it was any more than my duty--my obvious duty as a
citizen. Of course it wasn't; I know that as well as you. But my
fellow citizens, you know--! Good Lord, think of all the good
souls who think so highly of me--!
Aslaksen. Yes, our townsfolk have had a very high opinion of you
so far, Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and that is just why I am afraid they--.
Well, this is the point; when this reaches them, especially the
poorer classes, and sounds in their ears like a summons to take
the town's affairs into their own hands for the future...
Hovstad (getting up). Ahem I Doctor, I won't conceal from you the
Dr. Stockmann. Ah I--I knew there was something in the wind! But
I won't hear a word of it. If anything of that sort is being set
Hovstad. Of what sort?
Dr. Stockmann. Well, whatever it is--whether it is a
demonstration in my honour, or a banquet, or a subscription list
for some presentation to me--whatever it is, you most promise me
solemnly and faithfully to put a stop to it. You too, Mr.
Aslaksen; do you understand?
Hovstad. You must forgive me, Doctor, but sooner or later we must
tell you the plain truth--
(He is interrupted by the entrance Of MRS. STOCKMANN, who comes
in from the street door.)
Mrs. Stockmann (seeing her husband). Just as I thought!
Hovstad (going towards her). You too, Mrs. Stockmann?
Dr. Stockmann. What on earth do you want here, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann. I should think you know very well what I want.
Hovstad, Won't you sit down? Or perhaps--
Mrs. Stockmann. No, thank you; don't trouble. And you must not be
offended at my coming to fetch my husband; I am the mother of
three children, you know.
Dr. Stockmann. Nonsense!--we know all about that.
Mrs. Stockmann. Well, one would not give you credit for much
thought for your wife and children today; if you had had that,
you would not have gone and dragged us all into misfortune.
Dr. Stockmann. Are you out of your senses, Katherine! Because a
man has a wife and children, is he not to he allowed to proclaim
the truth-is he not to be allowed to be an actively useful
citizen--is he not to be allowed to do a service to his native
Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, Thomas--in reason.
Aslaksen. Just what I say. Moderation in everything.
Mrs. Stockmann. And that is why you wrong us, Mr. Hovstad, in
enticing my husband away from his home and making a dupe of him
in all this.
Hovstad. I certainly am making a dupe of no one--
Dr. Stockmann. Making a dupe of me! Do you suppose I should allow
myself to be duped!