Dr. Stockmann. But, my dear Mr. Kiil--consider the state of the
Morten Kiil. If you behave like a reasonable man, you can soon
set the Baths on their feet again.
Dr. Stockmann. Well, you can see for yourself that I have done
all I can, but--. They are all mad in this town!
Morten Kiil. You said yesterday that the worst of this pollution
came from my tannery. If that is true, then my grandfather and my
father before me, and I myself, for many years past, have been
poisoning the town like three destroying angels. Do you think I
am going to sit quiet under that reproach?
Dr. Stockmann. Unfortunately I am afraid you will have to.
Morten Kiil. No, thank you. I am jealous of my name and
reputation. They call me "the Badger," I am told. A badger is a
kind of pig, I believe; but I am not going to give them the right
to call me that. I mean to live and die a clean man.
Dr. Stockmann. And how are you going to set about it?
Morten Kiil. You shall cleanse me, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. I!
Morten Kiil. Do you know what money I have bought these shares
with? No, of course you can't know--but I will tell you. It is
the money that Katherine and Petra and the boys will have when I
am gone. Because I have been able to save a little bit after all,
Dr, Stockmann (flaring up). And you have gone and taken
Katherine's money for this!
Morten Kiil. Yes, the whole of the money is invested in the Baths
now. And now I just want to see whether you are quite stark,
staring mad, Thomas! If you still make out that these animals and
other nasty things of that sort come from my tannery, it will be
exactly as if you were to flay broad strips of skin from
Katherine's body, and Petra's, and the boys'; and no decent man
would do that--unless he were mad.
Dr. Stockmann (walking up and down). Yes, but I am mad; I am mad!
Morten Kiil. You cannot be so absurdly mad as all that, when it
is a question of your wife and children.
Dr. Stockmann (standing still in front of him). Why couldn't you
consult me about it, before you went and bought all that trash?
Morten Kiil. What is done cannot be undone.
Dr. Stockmann (walks about uneasily). If only I were not so
certain about it--! But I am absolutely convinced that I am
Morten Kiil (weighing the pocket-book in his hand). If you stick
to your mad idea, this won't be worth much, you know. (Puts the
pocket-book in his pocket.)
Dr. Stockmann. But, hang it all! It might be possible for science
to discover some prophylactic, I should think--or some antidote
of some kind--
Morten Kiil. To kill these animals, do you mean?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, or to make them innocuous.
Morten Kiil. Couldn't you try some rat's-bane?
Dr. Stockmann. Don't talk nonsense! They all say it is only
imagination, you know. Well, let it go at that! Let them have
their own way about it! Haven't the ignorant, narrow-minded curs
reviled me as an enemy of the people?--and haven't they been
ready to tear the clothes off my back too?
Morten Kiil. And broken all your windows to pieces!
Dr. Stockmann. And then there is my duty to my family. I must
talk it over with Katherine; she is great on those things,
Morten Kiil. That is right; be guided by a reasonable woman's
Dr. Stockmann (advancing towards him). To think you could do such
a preposterous thing! Risking Katherine's money in this way, and
putting me in such a horribly painful dilemma! When I look at
you, I think I see the devil himself--.
Morten Kiil. Then I had better go. But I must have an answer from
you before two o'clock--yes or no. If it is no, the shares go to
a charity, and that this very day.
Dr. Stockmann. And what does Katherine get?
Morten Kiil. Not a halfpenny. (The door leading to the hall
opens, and HOVSTAD and ASLAKSEN make their appearance.) Look at
Dr. Stockmann (staring at them). What the devil!--have YOU
actually the face to come into my house?
Aslaksen. We have something to say to you, you see.
Morten Kiil (in a whisper). Yes or no--before two o'clock.
Aslaksen (glancing at HOVSTAD). Aha! (MORTEN KIIL goes out.)
Dr. Stockmann. Well, what do you want with me? Be brief.
Hovstad. I can quite understand that you are annoyed with us for
our attitude at the meeting yesterday.
Dr. Stockmann. Attitude, do you call it? Yes, it was a charming
attitude! I call it weak, womanish--damnably shameful!
Hovstad. Call it what you like, we could not do otherwise.
Dr. Stockmann. You DARED not do otherwise--isn't that it?
Hovstad. Well, if you like to put it that way.
Aslaksen. But why did you not let us have word of it beforehand?-
-just a hint to Mr. Hovstad or to me?
Dr. Stockmann. A hint? Of what?
Aslaksen. Of what was behind it all.
Dr. Stockmann. I don't understand you in the least--
Aslaksen (with a confidential nod). Oh yes, you do, Dr.
Hovstad. It is no good making a mystery of it any longer.
Dr. Stockmann (looking first at one of them and then at the
other). What the devil do you both mean?
Aslaksen. May I ask if your father-in-law is not going round the
town buying up all the shares in the Baths?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, he has been buying Baths shares today; but--
Aslaksen. It would have been more prudent to get someone else to
do it--someone less nearly related to you.
Hovstad. And you should not have let your name appear in the
affair. There was no need for anyone to know that the attack on
the Baths came from you. You ought to have consulted me, Dr.
Dr. Stockmann (looks in front of him; then a light seems to dawn
on him and he says in amazement.) Are such things conceivable?
Are such things possible?
Aslaksen (with a smile). Evidently they are. But it is better to
use a little finesse, you know.
Hovstad. And it is much better to have several persons in a thing
of that sort; because the responsibility of each individual is
lessened, when there are others with him.
Dr. Stockmann (composedly). Come to the point, gentlemen. What do
Aslaksen. Perhaps Mr. Hovstad had better--
Hovstad. No, you tell him, Aslaksen.