(SCENE, — The same. The door into the dining room is shut. It is morning. MRS. STOCKMANN, with a sealed letter in her hand, comes in from the dining room, goes to the door of the DOCTOR'S study, and peeps in.)
Mrs. Stockmann. Are you in, Thomas?
Dr. Stockmann (from within his room). Yes, I have just come in. (Comes into the room.) What is it?
Mrs. Stockmann. A letter from your brother.
Dr. Stockmann. Aha, let us see! (Opens the letter and reads:) "I return herewith the manuscript you sent me" (reads on in a low murmur) H'm! —
Mrs. Stockmann. What does he say?
Dr. Stockmann (putting the papers in his pocket). Oh, he only writes that he will come up here himself about midday.
Mrs. Stockmann. Well, try and remember to be at home this time.
Dr. Stockmann. That will be all right; I have got through all my morning visits.
Mrs. Stockmann. I am extremely curious to know how he takes it.
Dr. Stockmann. You will see he won't like it's having been I, and not he, that made the discovery.
Mrs. Stockmann. Aren't you a little nervous about that?
Dr. Stockmann. Oh, he really will be pleased enough, you know. But, at the same time, Peter is so confoundedly afraid of anyone's doing any service to the town except himself.
Mrs. Stockmann. I will tell you what, Thomas — you should be good natured, and share the credit of this with him. Couldn't you make out that it was he who set you on the scent of this discovery?
Dr. Stockmann. I am quite willing. If only I can get the thing set right. I —
(MORTEN KIIL puts his head in through the door leading from the hall, looks around in an enquiring manner, and chuckles.)
Morten Kiil (slyly). Is it — is it true?
Mrs. Stockmann (going to the door). Father! — is it you?
Dr. Stockmann. Ah, Mr. Kiil — good morning, good morning!
Mrs. Stockmann. But come along in.
Morten Kiil. If it is true, I will; if not, I am off.
Dr. Stockmann. If what is true?
Morten Kiil. This tale about the water supply, is it true?
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly it is true, but how did you come to hear it?
Morten Kid (coming in). Petra ran in on her way to the school —
Dr. Stockmann. Did she?
Morten Kiil. Yes; and she declares that — I thought she was only making a fool of me — but it isn't like Petra to do that.
Dr. Stockmann. Of course not. How could you imagine such a thing!
Morten Kiil. Oh well, it is better never to trust anybody; you may find you have been made a fool of before you know where you are. But it is really true, all the same?
Dr. Stockmann. You can depend upon it that it is true. Won't you sit down? (Settles him on the couch.) Isn't it a real bit of luck for the town —
Morten Kiil (suppressing his laughter). A bit of luck for the town?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes, that I made the discovery in good time.
Morten Kiil (as before). Yes, yes, Yes! — But I should never have thought you the sort of man to pull your own brother's leg like this!
Dr. Stockmann. Pull his leg!
Mrs. Stockmann. Really, father dear —
Morten Kiil (resting his hands and his chin on the handle of his stick and winking slyly at the DOCTOR). Let me see, what was the story? Some kind of beast that had got into the water-pipes, wasn't it?
Dr. Stockmann. Infusoria — yes.
Morten Kiil. And a lot of these beasts had got in, according to Petra — a tremendous lot.
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly; hundreds of thousands of them, probably.
Morten Kiil. But no one can see them — isn't that so?
Dr. Stockmann. Yes; you can't see them,
Morten Kiil (with a quiet chuckle). Damn — it's the finest story I have ever heard!
Dr. Stockmann. What do you mean?
Morten Kiil. But you will never get the Mayor to believe a thing like that.
Dr. Stockmann. We shall see.
Morten Kiil. Do you think he will be fool enough to — ?
Dr. Stockmann. I hope the whole town will be fools enough.
Morten Kiil. The whole town! Well, it wouldn't be a bad thing. It would just serve them right, and teach them a lesson. They think themselves so much cleverer than we old fellows. They hounded me out of the council; they did, I tell you — they hounded me out. Now they shall pay for it. You pull their legs too, Thomas!
Dr. Stockmann. Really, I —
Morten Kiil. You pull their legs! (Gets up.) If you can work it so that the Mayor and his friends all swallow the same bait, I will give ten pounds to a charity — like a shot!
Dr. Stockmann. That is very kind of you.
Morten Kiil. Yes, I haven't got much money to throw away, I can tell you; but, if you can work this, I will give five pounds to a charity at Christmas.
(HOVSTAD comes in by the hall door.)
Hovstad. Good morning! (Stops.) Oh, I beg your pardon
Dr. Stockmann. Not at all; come in.
Morten Kiil (with another chuckle). Oho! — is he in this too?
Hovstad. What do you mean?
Dr. Stockmann. Certainly he is.
Morten Kiil. I might have known it! It must get into the papers. You know how to do it, Thomas! Set your wits to work. Now I must go.
Dr. Stockmann. Won't you stay a little while?
Morten Kiil. No, I must be off now. You keep up this game for all it is worth; you won't repent it, I'm damned if you will!
(He goes out; MRS. STOCKMANN follows him into the hall.)
Dr. Stockmann (laughing). Just imagine — the old chap doesn't believe a word of all this about the water supply.
Hovstad. Oh that was it, then?