- An Enemy of the People
Morten Kiil. I won't sit. (Looks around.) You look very
comfortable here today, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, don't we!
Morten Kiil. Very comfortable--plenty of fresh air. I should
think you have got enough to-day of that oxygen you were talking
about yesterday. Your conscience must be in splendid order to-
day, I should think.
Dr. Stockmann. It is.
Morten Kiil. So I should think. (Taps his chest.) Do you know
what I have got here?
Dr. Stockmann. A good conscience, too, I hope.
Morten Kiil. Bah!--No, it is something better than that. (He
takes a thick pocket-book from his breast-pocket, opens it, and
displays a packet of papers.)
Dr. Stockmann (looking at him in astonishment). Shares in the
Morten Kiil. They were not difficult to get today.
Dr. Stockmann. And you have been buying--?
Morten Kiil. As many as I could pay for.
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.
Aslaksen. Well, the fact is that, now we know the bearings of the
whole affair, we think we might venture to put the "People's
Messenger" at your disposal.
Dr. Stockmann. Do you dare do that now? What about public
opinion? Are you not afraid of a storm breaking upon our heads?
Hovstad. We will try to weather it.
Aslaksen. And you must be ready to go off quickly on a new tack,
Doctor. As soon as your invective has done its work--
Dr. Stockmann. Do you mean, as soon as my father-in-law and I
have got hold of the shares at a low figure?
Hovstad. Your reasons for wishing to get the control of the Baths
are mainly scientific, I take it.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course; it was for scientific reasons that I
persuaded the old "Badger" to stand in with me in the matter. So
we will tinker at the conduit-pipes a little, and dig up a little
bit of the shore, and it shan't cost the town a sixpence. That
will be all right--eh?
Hovstad. I think so--if you have the "People's Messenger" behind
Aslaksen. The Press is a power in a free community. Doctor.
Dr. Stockmann. Quite so. And so is public opinion. And you, Mr.
Aslaksen--I suppose you will be answerable for the Householders'
Aslaksen. Yes, and for the Temperance Society. You may rely on
Dr. Stockmann. But, gentlemen--I really am ashamed to ask the
question--but, what return do you--?
Hovstad. We should prefer to help you without any return
whatever, believe me. But the "People's Messenger" is in rather a
shaky condition; it doesn't go really well; and I should be very
unwilling to suspend the paper now, when there is so much work to
do here in the political way.
Dr. Stockmann. Quite so; that would be a great trial to such a
friend of the people as you are. (Flares up.) But I am an enemy
of the people, remember! (Walks about the room.) Where have I put
my stick? Where the devil is my stick?
Hovstad. What's that?
Aslaksen. Surely you never mean--
Dr. Stockmann (standing still.) And suppose I don't give you a
single penny of all I get out of it? Money is not very easy to
get out of us rich folk, please to remember!
Hovstad. And you please to remember that this affair of the
shares can be represented in two ways!
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and you are just the man to do it. If I don't
come to the rescue of the "People's Messenger," you will
certainly take an evil view of the affair; you will hunt me down,
I can well imagine--pursue me--try to throttle me as a dog does a
Hovstad. It is a natural law; every animal must fight for its own
Aslaksen. And get its food where it can, you know.
Dr. Stockmann (walking about the room). Then you go and look for
yours in the gutter; because I am going to show you which is the
strongest animal of us three! (Finds an umbrella and brandishes
it above his head.) Ah, now--!
Hovstad. You are surely not going to use violence!
Aslaksen. Take care what you are doing with that umbrella.
Dr. Stockmann. Out of the window with you, Mr. Hovstad!
Hovstad (edging to the door). Are you quite mad!
Dr. Stockmann. Out of the window, Mr. Aslaksen! Jump, I tell you!
You will have to do it, sooner or later.
Aslaksen (running round the writing-table). Moderation, Doctor--I
am a delicate man--I can stand so little--(calls out) help, help!
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