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
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
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
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
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.