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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, Doctor.

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 print.

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 town--

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 fact--

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 on foot--

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 town!

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!

Mrs. Stockmann. It is just what you do. I know quite well you have more brains than anyone in the town, but you are extremely easily duped, Thomas. (To Hovstad.) Please do realise that he loses his post at the Baths if you print what he has written.

Aslaksen. What!

Hovstad. Look here, Doctor!

Dr. Stockmann (laughing). Ha-ha!--just let them try! No, no--they will take good care not to. I have got the compact majority behind me, let me tell you!

Mrs. Stockmann. Yes, that is just the worst of it--your having any such horrid thing behind you.

Dr. Stockmann. Rubbish, Katherine!--Go home and look after your house and leave me to look after the community. How can you be so afraid, when I am so confident and happy? (Walks up and down, rubbing his hands.) Truth and the People will win the fight, you may be certain! I see the whole of the broad-minded middle class marching like a victorious army--! (Stops beside a chair.) What the deuce is that lying there?

Aslaksen Good Lord!

Hovstad. Ahem!

Dr. Stockmann. Here we have the topmost pinnacle of authority! (Takes the Mayor's official hat carefully between his finger-tips and holds it up in the air.)

Mrs. Stockmann. The Mayor's hat!

Dr. Stockmann. And here is the staff of office too. How in the name of all that's wonderful--?

Hovstad. Well, you see--

Dr. Stockmann. Oh, I understand. He has been here trying to talk you over. Ha-ha!--he made rather a mistake there! And as soon as he caught sight of me in the printing room. (Bursts out laughing.) Did he run away, Mr. Aslaksen?

Aslaksen (hurriedly). Yes, he ran away, Doctor.

Dr. Stockmann. Ran away without his stick or his--. Fiddlesticks! Peter doesn't run away and leave his belongings behind him. But what the deuce have you done with him? Ah!--in there, of course. Now you shall see, Katherine!

Mrs. Stockmann. Thomas--please don't--!

Aslaksen. Don't be rash, Doctor.

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