- An Enemy of the People
Peter Stockmann (lowering his voice a little). It is a curious thing that these farmers' sons never seem to lose their want of tact.
Mrs. Stockmann. Surely it is not worth bothering about! Cannot you and Thomas share the credit as brothers?
Peter Stockmann. I should have thought so; but apparently some people are not satisfied with a share.
Mrs. Stockmann. What nonsense! You and Thomas get on so capitally together. (Listens.) There he is at last, I think. (Goes out and opens the door leading to the hall.)
Dr. Stockmann (laughing and talking outside). Look here--here is another guest for you, Katherine. Isn't that jolly! Come in, Captain Horster; hang your coat up on this peg. Ah, you don't wear an overcoat. Just think, Katherine; I met him in the street and could hardly persuade him to come up! (CAPTAIN HORSTER comes into the room and greets MRS. STOCKMANN. He is followed by DR. STOCKMANN.) Come along in, boys. They are ravenously hungry again, you know. Come along, Captain Horster; you must have a
slice of beef. (Pushes HORSTER into the dining-room. EJLIF and MORTEN go in after them.)
Mrs. Stockmann. But, Thomas, don't you see--?
Dr. Stockmann (turning in the doorway). Oh, is it you, Peter? (Shakes hands with him.) Now that is very delightful.
Peter Stockmann. Unfortunately I must go in a moment--
Dr. Stockmann. Rubbish! There is some toddy just coming in. You haven't forgotten the toddy, Katherine?
Mrs. Stockmann. Of course not; the water is boiling now. (Goes into the dining-room.)
Peter Stockmann. Toddy too!
Dr, Stockmann. Yes, sit down and we will have it comfortably.
Peter Stockmann. Thanks, I never care about an evening's
Dr. Stockmann. But this isn't an evening's drinking.
Peter Stockmann. It seems to me--. (Looks towards the dining-room.) It is extraordinary how they can put away all that food.
Dr. Stockmann (rubbing his hands). Yes, isn't it splendid to see young people eat? They have always got an appetite, you know! That's as it should be. Lots of food--to build up their strength! They are the people who are going to stir up the fermenting forces of the future, Peter.
Peter Stockmann. May I ask what they will find here to "stir up," as you put it?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, you must ask the young people that--when the times comes. We shan't be able to see it, of course. That stands to reason--two old fogies, like us.
Peter Stockmann. Really, really! I must say that is an extremely odd expression to--
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, you mustn't take me too literally, Peter. I am so heartily happy and contented, you know. I think it is such an extraordinary piece of good fortune to be in the middle of all this growing, germinating life. It is a splendid time to live in! It is as if a whole new world were being created around one.
Peter Stockmann. Do you really think so?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, naturally you can't appreciate it as keenly as I. You have lived all your life in these surroundings, and your impressions have been blunted. But I, who have been buried all these years in my little corner up north, almost without ever seeing a stranger who might bring new ideas with him-- well, in my case it has just the same effect as if I had been transported into the middle of a crowded city.
Peter Stockmann. Oh, a city--!
Dr. Stockmann. I know, I know; it is all cramped enough here, compared with many other places. But there is life here--there is promise-- there are innumerable things to work for and fight for; and that is the main thing. (Calls.) Katherine, hasn't the postman been here?
Mrs. Stockmann (from the dining-room). No.
Dr. Stockmann. And then to be comfortably off, Peter! That is
something one learns to value, when one has been on the brink of starvation, as we have.
Peter Stockmann. Oh, surely--
Dr. Stockmann. Indeed I can assure you we have often been very hard put to it, up there. And now to be able to live like a lord! Today, for instance, we had roast beef for dinner--and, what is more, for supper too. Won't you come and have a little bit? Or let me show it you, at any rate? Come here--
Peter Stockmann. No, no--not for worlds!
Dr. Stockmann. Well, but just come here then. Do you see, we have got a table-cover?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, I noticed it.
Dr. Stockmann. And we have got a lamp-shade too. Do you see? All out of Katherine's savings! It makes the room so cosy. Don't you think so? Just stand here for a moment-- no, no, not there--just here, that's it! Look now, when you get the light on it altogether. I really think it looks very nice, doesn't it?
Peter Stockmann. Oh, if you can afford luxuries of this kind--
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, I can afford it now. Katherine tells me I earn almost as much as we spend.
Peter Stockmann. Almost--yes!
Dr. Stockmann. But a scientific man must live in a little bit of style. I am quite sure an ordinary civil servant spends more in a year than I do.
Peter Stockmann. I daresay. A civil servant--a man in a well-paid position...
Dr. Stockmann. Well, any ordinary merchant, then! A man in that position spends two or three times as much as--
Peter Stockmann. It just depends on circumstances.
Dr. Stockmann. At all events I assure you I don't waste money unprofitably. But I can't find it in my heart to deny myself the pleasure of entertaining my friends. I need that sort of thing, you know. I have lived for so long shut out of it all, that it is a necessity of life to me to mix with young, eager, ambitious men, men of liberal and active minds; and that describes every one of those fellows who are enjoying their supper in there. I wish you knew more of Hovstad.
Peter Stockmann. By the way, Hovstad was telling me he was going to print another article of yours.
Dr. Stockmann. An article of mine?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, about the Baths. An article you wrote in the winter.
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, that one! No, I don't intend that to appear just for the present.
Peter Stockmann. Why not? It seems to me that this would be the most opportune moment.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, very likely--under normal conditions.
(Crosses the room.)
Peter Stockmann (following him with his eyes). Is there anything abnormal about the present conditions?
Dr. Stockmann (standing still). To tell you the truth, Peter, I can't say just at this moment--at all events not tonight. There may be much that is very abnormal about the present conditions-- and it is possible there may be nothing abnormal about them at all. It is quite possible it may be merely my imagination.
Peter Stockmann. I must say it all sounds most mysterious. Is there something going on that I am to be kept in ignorance of? I should have imagined that I, as Chairman of the governing body of the Baths--
Dr. Stockmann. And I should have imagined that I--. Oh, come, don't let us fly out at one another, Peter.
Peter Stockmann. Heaven forbid! I am not in the habit of flying out at people, as you call it. But I am entitled to request most emphatically that all arrangements shall be made in a businesslike manner, through the proper channels, and shall be dealt with by the legally constituted authorities. I can allow no going behind our backs by any roundabout means.
Dr. Stockmann. Have I ever at any time tried to go behind your backs?
Peter Stockmann. You have an ingrained tendency to take your own way, at all events; and, that is almost equally inadmissible in a well ordered community, The individual ought undoubtedly to acquiesce in subordinating himself to the community--or, to speak more accurately, to the authorities who have the care of the community's welfare.
Dr. Stockmann. Very likely. But what the deuce has all this got to do with me?
Peter Stockmann. That is exactly what you never appear to be
willing to learn, my dear Thomas. But, mark my words, some day you will have to suffer for it-- sooner or later. Now I have told you. Good-bye.
Dr. Stockmann. Have you taken leave of your senses? You are on the wrong scent altogether.
Peter Stockmann. I am not usually that. You must excuse me now if I-- (calls into the dining-room). Good night, Katherine. Good night, gentlemen. (Goes out.)
Mrs. Stockmann (coming from the dining-room). Has he gone?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and in such a bad temper.
Mrs. Stockmann. But, dear Thomas, what have you been doing to him again?
Dr. Stockmann. Nothing at all. And, anyhow, he can't oblige me to make my report before the proper time.
Mrs. Stockmann. What have you got to make a report to him about?
Dr. Stockmann. Hm! Leave that to me, Katherine. It is an
extraordinary thing that the postman doesn't come.
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