- An Enemy of the People
Peter Stockmann. Oh, you are engaged. In that case, I will--
Dr. Stockmann. No, no, come in.
Peter Stockmann. But I wanted to speak to you alone.
Mrs. Stockmann. We will go into the sitting-room in the
Horster. And I will look in again later.
Dr. Stockmann. No, go in there with them, Captain Horster; I want
to hear more about--.
Horster. Very well, I will wait, then. (He follows MRS. STOCKMANN
and PETRA into the sitting-room.)
Dr. Stockmann. I daresay you find it rather draughty here today.
Put your hat on.
Peter Stockmann. Thank you, if I may. (Does so.) I think I caught
cold last night; I stood and shivered--
Dr. Stockmann. Really? I found it warm enough.
Peter Stockmann. I regret that it was not in my power to prevent
those excesses last night.
Dr. Stockmann. Have you anything in particular to say to me
Peter Stockmann (taking a big letter from his pocket). I have
this document for you, from the Baths Committee.
Dr. Stockmann. My dismissal?
Peter Stockmann. Yes, dating from today. (Lays the letter on the
table.) It gives us pain to do it; but, to speak frankly, we
dared not do otherwise on account of public opinion.
Dr. Stockmann (smiling). Dared not? I seem to have heard that
word before, today.
Peter Stockmann. I must beg you to understand your position
clearly. For the future you must not count on any practice
whatever in the town.
Dr. Stockmann. Devil take the practice! But why are you so sure
Peter Stockmann. The Householders' Association is circulating a
list from house to house. All right-minded citizens are being
called upon to give up employing you; and I can assure you that
not a single head of a family will risk refusing his signature.
They simply dare not.
Dr. Stockmann. No, no; I don't doubt it. But what then?
Peter Stockmann. If I might advise you, it would be best to leave
the place for a little while--
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, the propriety of leaving the place has
occurred to me.
Peter Stockmann. Good. And then, when you have had six months to
think things over, if, after mature consideration, you can
persuade yourself to write a few words of regret, acknowledging
Dr. Stockmann. I might have my appointment restored to me, do you
Peter Stockmann. Perhaps. It is not at all impossible.
Dr. Stockmann. But what about public opinion, then? Surely you
would not dare to do it on account of public feeling...
Peter Stockmann. Public opinion is an extremely mutable thing.
And, to be quite candid with you, it is a matter of great
importance to us to have some admission of that sort from you in
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, that's what you are after, is it! I will just
trouble you to remember what I said to you lately about foxy
tricks of that sort!
Peter Stockmann. Your position was quite different then. At that
time you had reason to suppose you had the whole town at your
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, and now I feel I have the whole town ON my
back--(flaring up). I would not do it if I had the devil and his
dam on my back--! Never--never, I tell you!
Peter Stockmann. A man with a family has no right to behave as
you do. You have no right to do it, Thomas.
Dr. Stockmann. I have no right! There is only one single thing in
the world a free man has no right to do. Do you know what that
Peter Stockmann. No.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course you don't, but I will tell you. A free
man has no right to soil himself with filth; he has no right to
behave in a way that would justify his spitting in his own face.
Peter Stockmann. This sort of thing sounds extremely plausible,
of course; and if there were no other explanation for your
obstinacy--. But as it happens that there is.
Dr. Stockmann. What do you mean?
Peter Stockmann. You understand, very well what I mean. But, as
your brother and as a man of discretion, I advise you not to
build too much upon expectations and prospects that may so very
easily fail you.
Dr. Stockmann. What in the world is all this about?
Peter Stockmann. Do you really ask me to believe that you are
ignorant of the terms of Mr. Kiil's will?
Dr. Stockmann. I know that the small amount he possesses is to go
to an institution for indigent old workpeople. How does that
Peter Stockmann. In the first place, it is by no means a small
amount that is in question. Mr. Kiil is a fairly wealthy man.
Dr. Stockmann. I had no notion of that!
Peter Stockmann. Hm!--hadn't you really? Then I suppose you had
no notion, either, that a considerable portion of his wealth will
come to your children, you and your wife having a life-rent of
the capital. Has he never told you so?
Dr. Stockmann. Never, on my honour! Quite the reverse; he has
consistently done nothing but fume at being so unconscionably
heavily taxed. But are you perfectly certain of this, Peter?
Peter Stockmann. I have it from an absolutely reliable source.
Dr. Stockmann. Then, thank God, Katherine is provided for--and
the children too! I must tell her this at once--(calls out)
Peter Stockmann (restraining him). Hush, don't say a word yet!
Mrs. Stockmann (opening the door). What is the matter?
Dr, Stockmann. Oh, nothing, nothing; you can go back. (She shuts
the door. DR. STOCKMANN walks up and down in his excitement.)
Provided for!--Just think of it, we are all provided for! And for
life! What a blessed feeling it is to know one is provided for!
Peter Stockmann. Yes, but that is just exactly what you are not.
Mr. Kiil can alter his will any day he likes.
Dr. Stockmann. But he won't do that, my dear Peter. The "Badger"
is much too delighted at my attack on you and your wise friends.
Peter Stockmann (starts and looks intently at him). Ali, that
throws a light on various things.
Dr. Stockmann. What things?
Peter Stockmann. I see that the whole thing was a combined
manoeuvre on your part and his. These violent, reckless attacks
that you have made against the leading men of the town, under the
pretence that it was in the name of truth--
Dr. Stockmann. What about them?
Peter Stockmann. I see that they were nothing else than the
stipulated price for that vindictive old man's will.
Dr. Stockmann (almost speechless). Peter--you are the most
disgusting plebeian I have ever met in all my life.
Peter Stockmann. All is over between us. Your dismissal is
irrevocable--we have a weapon against you now. (Goes out.)
Dr. Stockmann. For shame! For shame! (Calls out.) Katherine, you
must have the floor scrubbed after him! Let--what's her name--
devil take it, the girl who has always got soot on her nose--
Mrs. Stockmann. (in the sitting-room). Hush, Thomas, be quiet!
Petra (coming to the door). Father, grandfather is here, asking
if he may speak to you alone.
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly he may. (Going to the door.) Come in,
Mr. Kiil. (MORTEN KIIL comes in. DR. STOCKMANN shuts the door
after him.) What can I do for you? Won't you sit down?
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