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AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE

By Henrik Ibsen (1882)

In a new translation and adaptation by


Michael Johnston
September 2010

Michael Johnston
2 Woodfall Avenue
Barnet (Herts.)
EN5 2EZ

AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE


A play in five acts by Henrik Ibsen (1882)
Translated and Adapted by Michael Johnston (2010)
CAST
Dr. Henry Gibson, Medical Officer of the Spa Baths.
Mrs. Gibson, his wife.
Petra, their daughter, a teacher.
Peter Gibson, the Doctor's elder brother, Mayor of the Town and Chairman
of the Spa Baths Municipal Partnership Limited
Martin Kyle, owner of the local tanneries and Mrs. Gibson's father.
Hinchcliffe, editor of the "People's Messenger."
Captain Hooper, a merchant seaman.
Armitage, President of the Chamber of Commerce, etc.
Wickens, a shipowner.
Maid
Men and women comprising the audience at a public meeting (or use the
principal characters to double symbolically as the audience).

The action takes place in a spa town in England, in 1928 or thereabouts.

An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and


adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

ACT 1
SCENE the Gibsons sitting room. A plain L-shaped back wall, which
will be used in different ways in later Acts, sits at the back of the stage, the
short leg turning downstage from upstage left about a quarter to a third of the
way. The long leg of the L runs along the back of the stage about threequarters of its length. Lighting can be used at various points to allow one to
see action beyond the wall. There is a large rectangular table downstage
left with three chairs and a small, round table slightly further downstage right
with three more chairs.
MRS. GIBSON (enters upstage right, speaking over her shoulder): But thats
the way it goes, Mr. Hinchcliffe; come late and you have to make do with
cold meat.
Mrs Gibson, humming quietly, moves chairs around and flicks a duster over
the chairs. PETER GIBSON comes in very quietly upstage left through the
door in the short leg of the L. He wears an overcoat, and his official bicorne
hat, and carries his stick of office.
PETER GIBSON: And a very good evening to you, sister-in-law.
MRS. GIBSON (slightly startled): Oh mercy, good evening its you, Peter?
How good of you just to drop in and see us unannounced!
PETER GIBSON: Well, I happened to be passing, and so . . . (looks offstage
right.) But you have company I see . . . And Henry is not here?
MRS. GIBSON (slightly flustered): Oh, no it was quite by chance he came
in. (Hurriedly.) Wouldnt you like to sit down and have something too?
PETER GIBSON: I thank you, no. Good gracious cooked meat at night!
Not with my digestion.
MRS. GIBSON: Oh, but just once in a while . . .
PETER GIBSON: No, no, my dear Katherine; Ill stick to my usual; weak tea
with bread and unsalted butter. Much more wholesome in the long run and
rather more economical too.
MRS. GIBSON (smiling): Now you mustn't take Harry and me for
spendthrifts.
PETER GIBSON: Not you, my dear; Id never think that of you. (Points
downstage left) Hes not in his study then?

An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and


adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

MRS. GIBSON: No, he went out for his usual little turn after supper.
Healthy mind; healthy body!
PETER GIBSON: Walking after food; I doubt if that is a wise thing to do.
(Looks off upstage right then backs away as HINCHCLIFFE enters with a
napkin tucked into his waistcoat) Oh, its you, Mr. Hinchcliffe!
HINCHCLIFFE: Good evening, Mr. Mayor.
PETER GIBSON (giving a slightly patronising brief bow): Good evening.
Here on business, no doubt.
HINCHCLIFFE (nods and notices his napkin which he whips off. Mrs Gibson
obligingly takes it from him and walks briefly off right and immediately reenters): Partly; it's about an article for the paper.
PETER GIBSON: So I imagined. My brother seems to have become rather a
frequent contributor to the "People's Messenger."
HINCHCLIFFE: Yes, he is good enough to write in the Messenger;
whenever he feels he has any home truths to impart.
PETER GIBSON: Indeed; quite so. I can't blame him in the least, as a writer,
for addressing himself to the quarters where he will find the readiest
sympathy. And, dont misunderstand me; I personally have no reason to be
particularly critical of your paper, Mr. Hinchcliffe.
HINCHCLIFFE: Glad to hear it, Im sure!
PETER GIBSON: Yes, taking one thing with another, I would say theres an
excellent spirit of toleration in this town an admirable municipal spirit.
Which all springs from the fact of our having a great common interest to unite
us an interest that is the joint concern of every right-minded citizen, or so I
should hope.
HINCHCLIFFE: You couldnt possibly mean the Baths?
PETER GIBSON: Exactly our fine, new, handsome Spa Baths. Mark my
words, Mr. Hinchcliffe the Municipal Spa Baths will become the focus and
driving force of borough life! No doubt about it!
MRS. GIBSON: And thats just what Dr Gibson says in his article.
PETER GIBSON: Fancy! Extraordinary how this modest town has
developed within the last year or two! Money flowing in. Much more life

An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and


adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

and business up and doing. And Ill tell you another thing; houses and landed
property are going up in value every day. Think on!
HINCHCLIFFE: And unemployments coming down, it seems.
PETER GIBSON: It certainly is; with the gratifying consequence that the
burden on local ratepayers has been lightened to the great relief of
businessmen and the propertied classes, I may say and that relief will be
even greater if we can just get a really first-class summer under our belts, with
coach-loads of visitors especially invalids; theyre the ones wholl get the
Spa Baths talked about, you mark my words.
HINCHCLIFFE: Well theres every prospect of that, so I hear.
PETER GIBSON: Its all looking very promising. Inquiries about summer
lets and that sort of thing are coming in to us every day now.
HINCHCLIFFE: Well then, the doctor's article should come in pretty handy.
PETER GIBSON: Is this something hes been writing lately?
HINCHCLIFFE: As a matter of fact this is one he wrote over the winter; a
recommendation of the Baths; a glowing account of the excellent sanitary
conditions here and all that. But at that time I held the article over.
PETER GIBSON: Ah! Some little corrections to detail needed one imagines,
knowing his somewhat slapdash style.
HINCHCLIFFE: No, not at all; I just thought it would be better to wait until
the spring because thats the time folk begin to think seriously about summer
holidays, or taking a cure, and such like.
PETER GIBSON: How right you are; you were perfectly right, Mr.
Hinchcliffe. Excellent civic sense, Id say too.
HINCHCLIFFE: Glad you think so. Yes, the Doctors really tireless when
its any question of the Baths.
PETER GIBSON: And thats as it should be for the Medical Officer to the
Spa Baths.
HINCHCLIFFE: And not forgetting they owe their very existence to him.
PETER GIBSON: To him? Well indeed! I have heard from time to time that
certain people hold that opinion. Even so, others might well believe that I
took a modest part in the whole enterprise.
An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and
adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

MRS. GIBSON: Very true, Peter, and thats what Harrys always saying.
HINCHCLIFFE: Who would deny it, Mr. Mayor? It was certainly you got
the whole thing up and running; got that, what-dycall-it, arms-length
company set up; and whats more organised the public subscription for bonds
or shares or whatever. Youve made a practical concern of it; everyone
knows that. I only meant to say the idea came first from the doctor.
PETER GIBSON: The idea, oh yes! My brother has plenty of those. Im
sorry to say. But when it comes to the question of putting an idea into
practical shape, you need a fish of a different kettle, Mr. Hinchcliffe. And I
certainly should have thought that was obvious, to anyone in this house at
least.
MRS. GIBSON: Peter dear!
HINCHCLIFFE: Now dont get me wrong, Mr Mayor.
MRS. GIBSON (shooing him out): Just you go in and have dessert, Mr.
Hinchcliffe? The Doctors sure to be back directly.
HINCHCLIFFE: Ta very much; perhaps just a spoonful. (Exits right.)
PETER GIBSON (lowering his voice a little): It is a curious fact that people
from the working classes never seem to lose their want of tact.
MRS. GIBSON: Peter, please dont get worked up about it! Why cant you
and Harry just share the credit, like brothers are supposed to?
PETER GIBSON: I might be willing to do so if my own part is duly
acknowledged; but some of us, it seems, are just not satisfied with a share.
MRS. GIBSON: Oh what nonsense! You two get on so well together
usually. (Listens) Here he is at last, I think. (Opens the door on the short
leg of the L.)
DR. GIBSON (laughing and talking offstage): Look here Kate heres
another visitor for you. The more the merrier! Come in, Captain Hooper;
hang your coat up on that peg. (DR GIBSON enters talking over his shoulder.)
Ah, hardy sailor that you are, you don't even wear an overcoat. I met the
Captain in the street and, you know what, Kate, it was all I could do to
persuade him to come up. Come in, come along in! (CAPTAIN HOOPER
comes into the room and greets MRS. GIBSON.) Come through, Captain
Hooper; you must have some roast beef. (Pushes HOOPER towards the
right.)

An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and


adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

MRS. GIBSON: Harry dear; don't you see whos ?


DR. GIBSON (turning): Oh, its you then, Peter? (Grasping his hand which
Peter withdraws) Now isnt this delightful; lets all sit down round the
dining-room table.
PETER GIBSON. Alas, I really must get going
DR. GIBSON: Stuff and nonsense! Were just about to have a glass of hot
toddy. You haven't forgotten it I hope, Kate?
MRS. GIBSON: The kettles just boiling. (Exits right.)
PETER GIBSON: Toddy; oh my goodness me!
DR. GIBSON: Yes, hot toddy. Lets sit down and drink it comfortably.
PETER GIBSON: Dear me no. I never care to drink alcohol in the evening.
DR. GIBSON: It wont be a boozing session, Peter; just a glass or two.
PETER GIBSON: It seems to me (looks offstage right.) Extraordinary
how folk can pack away so much food.
DR. GIBSON (rubbing his hands): Splendid isn't it. I love to see people
eating heartily? And that's as it should be. Lots of food. Builds up
everyones health and strength!
PETER GIBSON: Fancy! I must say that seems an odd attitude for a medical
man to
DR. GIBSON: Oh, dont take me too literally, Peter. I am just so happy and
contented. You know, I feel so extraordinarily fortunate; to be back here and
in the middle of all this flourishing town life. Its a splendid time and place to
be alive! A whole new post-war worlds being created all around us.
PETER GIBSON: Do you really think that? It sounds rather airy-fairy to me.
DR. GIBSON: I dont think you can appreciate it just as keenly as I do.
Youve spent your entire life in these delightful surroundings and thats bound
to have blunted your senses. But me! Buried all these years in a chilly little
corner of Scotland, hardly ever seeing a stranger or anyone who might bring
some new ideas with him well, in my case, coming back here has just the
same effect as if Id woken up in Paradise.
PETER GIBSON: This place! Paradise?
An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and
adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

DR. GIBSON: I know, I know; this is a pretty small beer borough, Peter,
compared with many another place. But theres life here; theres promise;
theres just so many things it inspires one to work and fight for; and thats
surely the main thing. (Calls) Kate, hasn't the postman been today?
MRS. GIBSON (From the dining-room): No, Harry. Theres been nothing at
all.
DR. GIBSON: And then to find myself comfortably off at last, Peter! Thats
something one learns to value the hard way, when ones been to the brink of
bankruptcy as I have.
PETER GIBSON: Dont lets talk about that. Its too embarrassing!
DR. GIBSON: As you well know, we have often been very hard pressed, up
there. And now, to be able to live like a lord! Today, for instance, we had
roast beef for dinner and, whats more, for supper too. Now, won't you
come and have just a slice? Just let me show you, at any rate? Look here
PETER GIBSON: No, no not for worlds! Consider my digestion!
DR. GIBSON: Well, but just come here then. Dont you think the table looks
fine, with a splendid new dinner service and a starched linen table-cover?
PETER GIBSON: Yes, yes. I see that. Fancy!
DR. GIBSON: And Kates got a Tiffany well Tiffany-style lampshade
too. Do you see it? All out of her household economies, she tells me. It
makes the room seem so cosy. Don't you agree? Just stand there for a
moment no, no, not there here, that's better! Look now, how the light
pulls it altogether. I really think it looks charming, dont you think?
PETER GIBSON (Pulling away from the DOCTORS grasp): Oh well, if you
can afford luxuries of that sort
DR. GIBSON: Yes, I can afford it. Kate told me only yesterday that Im
earning almost as much as we spend.
PETER GIBSON: Almost! Fancy that!
DR. GIBSON: But we men of science must live with a little bit of style. I
dont doubt one of your local government officers spends even more in a year
than I do.
PETER GIBSON: Well, I hardly the Town Clerk perhaps a man in a
really well-paid and secure position.
An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and
adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

DR. GIBSON: Well, take any local professional man, then! A man of that
standing doles out two or three times as much as
PETER GIBSON: It depends entirely on personal circumstances and ones
disposition.
DR. GIBSON: At all events I don't think Im profligate. But I simply wont
deny myself the simple pleasure of entertaining friends. After living for so
long shut out of it all I really crave that sort of thing. Its a necessity of life
for me to mix with young, thrusting men, men with active, inquiring, modern,
radical minds; and Id say that describes both of those fellows who are
enjoying their supper in there. (Pause.) I wish you got on better with
Hinchcliffe.
PETER GIBSON (with a dismissive gesture): And that reminds me,
Hinchcliffe was telling me he was going to print yet another article of yours.
DR. GIBSON: An article. Of mine?
PETER GIBSON: Yes, one about the Spa Baths. Something you wrote last
winter.
DR. GIBSON. Oh, that one! (After the slightest of hesitations) Well, perhaps
I don't intend that to appear just for the present.
PETER GIBSON: Why not, may I ask? Wouldnt this be a most opportune
moment for it to appear?
DR. GIBSON: As like as not; other things being equal. (Crosses right.)
PETER GIBSON (eyeing him suspiciously): Is there anything unequal about
the present circumstances?
DR. GIBSON (standing still): To tell you the truth, Peter, I just can't say
right now; at all events not today, this evening. There may be something a
little abnormal but, on the other hand, there may be nothing at all. Its
perfectly possible its all a figment of my imagination.
PETER GIBSON: I must say that all sounds altogether too mysterious. There
wouldnt be anything going on that Im being kept in dark about, would there?
Im surely entitled to assume that, in my capacity as Executive Chairman of
the Board of the Spa Baths Municipal Partnership Limited
DR. GIBSON: And I should have thought that as its Medical Officer Oh,
come on, we shouldnt be letting fly at one another, Peter.

An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and


adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

PETER GIBSON: Heaven forefend! And I for one am not in the habit of
letting fly at people, as you call it. However I am entitled to demand without
equivocation that all Spa Baths matters are dealt with in a businesslike
manner, through the proper channels, and by the new, semi-autonomous
company and its Board of Directors. I simply cannot allow anyone going
behind our backs or using any roundabout means not least now that the
shares and bonds can be publicly traded.
DR. GIBSON: Have I ever at any time tried to go behind your back?
PETER GIBSON: Lets just say you have an astonishing propensity to go
your own way, and to me thats just as unforgivable in a well-ordered
community. The individual has a duty to conform to the rules and not put
self-interest before the higher interests of the community or, in this
particular case, the wishes of the proper authorities, to wit, the Board of the
Spa Baths Municipal Partnership Limited, who have as their principal care the
welfare of the community.
DR. GIBSON: Im sure all thats true, if you say so. But what the devil has
any of it to do with me?
PETER GIBSON: Precisely what you seem to be so unwilling to learn,
Henry. But, think on. Some day youll suffer for it some day! Just you
mark my words. Well Ive said all I want to say on the subject so Ill bid you
good-night.
DR. GIBSON: Peter, I think youve taken leave of your senses. Youre off
on the wrong tack altogether.
PETER GIBSON: That doesnt happen often, Henry. Now you must excuse
me (Calls into the dining-room) Good night, Katherine. Good night,
gentlemen. (Exits left through the door.)
MRS. GIBSON (entering right): Has he gone?
DR. GIBSON (nodding): And in his usual grouchy mood.
MRS. GIBSON: Harry, what have you done to him this time?
DR. GIBSON: This time? Not a thing. And, in any case, he can't compel me
to make my report before its good and ready.
MRS. GIBSON: And what have you got to make a report to him about?
DR. GIBSON: Oh, its a medical matter, Kate, thats all You know, Im
really perplexed the postman hasnt come today.
An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and
adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

HINCHCLIFFE and HOOPER enter from the right.


HINCHCLIFFE (stretching): Aye but one feels like a new man after eating
like that. Our mayor wasn't in the best of tempers tonight, happen.
DR. GIBSON: Its all in his stomach; his digestion is wretched.
HINCHCLIFFE: And here was me hoping it was the "People's Messenger"
he couldn't stomach.
MRS. GIBSON: I think you came out of it pretty well. Dont you?
HINCHCLIFFE: Perhaps, perhaps; but its probably no more than a truce.
DR. GIBSON: The trouble is, quite frankly, Peters a lonely man. Poor
fellow, he has no home comforts to enjoy. Its nothing but business, business,
business and municipal affairs. And then theres all that nauseating weak tea
he drinks by the basinful! But talking about drinking, when are we going to
have that toddy, Kate?
MRS. GIBSON (exiting right): Straight away, straight away.
DR. GIBSON: Sit here beside me, Captain Hooper. We dont often see you.
Make yourself at home, Hinchcliffe. (They sit at the small table as Mrs
Gibson brings in a tray, with glasses in holders, a bottle and a kettle. She
talks as she pours out the toddies and hands them round.)
MRS. GIBSON: Sailing off again soon then, Captain Hooper?
HOOPER: Next week, as it happens.
MRS. GIBSON: America as usual?
HOOPER: Thats the present plan, Mrs Gibson.
HINCHCLIFFE: Then you won't be taking part in our local elections?
HOOPER: Theres going to be an election?
HINCHCLIFFE: You didnt know that?
HOOPER: No, I confess I don't often read the People Messenger.
HINCHCLIFFE: Im shocked. You take no interest in public affairs?
HOOPER: Not me; Ive no interest whatsoever in politics.
An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and
adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

10

HINCHCLIFFE: All the same, one ought to vote, dont you think?
HOOPER: Not if one knows nothing about what is going on?
HINCHCLIFFE: Knows nothing! You cant be serious? Besides, I think a
community ought to be run like a ship. Everyone ought to take their turn in
charge of the helm.
HOOPER: That might be all very well on shore but on board ship it just
wouldn't work at all, Im afraid. The captain stays in charge all the time.
DR. GIBSON: Is there some exciting local story in the next Messenger"?
HINCHCLIFFE: As a matter of fact, I was thinking of printing your article.
DR. GIBSON: Ah yes, damn it my article! Look here; that had better wait
a bit.
HINCHCLIFFE: But why so? Ive a convenient space for it and Id have
thought it was near perfect timing.
DR. GIBSON: Yes, yes, true: in one sense youre right; but it must be held
over all the same. I cant explain it right now.
PETRA comes in from the left with a bundle of exercise books under her arm.
PETRA: Good evening.
DR. GIBSON: My dear Petra; come along in. We have distinguished
company.
(Mrs Gibson takes Petras books, gestures to her to stay and exits right.)
PETRA: So here you all are then, sitting around enjoying yourselves while
Ive been out working like a galley slave!
DR. GIBSON: Well, come along in and join us now you are here.
HINCHCLIFFE: May I mix a glass of toddy for you?
PETRA (coming to the table): Thanks, I would rather do that myself.
Wicked man, you always make it far too strong (PETRA and
HINCHCLIFFE smile at each other, and then ) Oh father, I nearly forgot!
Ive a letter here for you. (Takes it from her pocket and holds it out to her
father who comes across to her eagerly.)

An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and


adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

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DR. GIBSON: A letter? Who from?


PETRA (shrugging with little concern): I dont know. The postman handed
it to me at the garden gate just as I was going out this morning.
DR. GIBSON (upset): And you only give to me now!
PETRA: Father, I didnt have the time to run up here again. I was in a
frightful hurry.
DR. GIBSON: Petra, oh Petra! (Mrs Gibson enters right.)
MRS. GIBSON: Is that the thing youve been fretting about, Harry?
DR. GIBSON: It certainly is. Excuse me everyone. I must just pop into my
study now, and that reminds me, theres no light in my study again.
MRS. GIBSON: Yes there is; your lamp is already lit on your desk. I
replaced the bulb while you were ministering to the sick.
DR. GIBSON: Good, good. Excuse me for just a moment then. (Exits
downstage left.)
PETRA: What do you think thats all about, mother?
MRS. GIBSON: I havent the least idea; but for the past couple of days hes
been asking every five minutes if the postman has been.
HINCHCLIFFE: Happen its a cheque from some wealthy patient.
PETRA: Poor old dad! Hes going to work himself to death if hes not
careful. (Mixes a glass for herself.) Heres mud in your eye, Mr Hinchcliffe!
HINCHCLIFFE: Was it the evening school tonight?
PETRA: Yes, for a couple of hours.
HINCHCLIFFE: And four hours of school-teaching this morning, I suppose?
PETRA: Five.
MRS. GIBSON: Five! And youve brought home exercise books to correct.
PETRA: A whole heap, yes. But I dont mind actually. I feel so delightfully
tired afterwards.
HINCHCLIFFE: And you like that?
An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and
adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

12

PETRA: Yes, because then I sleep so well. Ill tell you what I dont like
though. Its the fact theres so much falsehood nowadays; I mean we have to
stand there and tell lies to the children.
All are taken aback; Mrs Gibson, hand to mouth, is visibly shocked.
HOOPER: Tell lies?
PETRA: Oh yes, we have to teach them all sorts of things that we don't really
believe?
HOOPER: Can this possibly be true?
PETRA: If only I had the money, Id start my own school and it would be
conducted on completely different lines; like a Montessori school perhaps.
HOOPER: Well if youre serious about that, Miss Gibson, I should be
delighted to offer you a schoolroom. That great big house my father left me is
standing almost empty with my being off at sea so much. Theres an
immense dining-room downstairs.
Mrs Gibson shakes her head in alarm.
PETRA (laughing): Thank you very much; but I dont think anything will
ever come of it.
HINCHCLIFFE: No, Im hoping Miss Gibson will take up journalism. By
the way, have you had time to do anything with that French story you said
youd translate for me?
PETRA: No, not yet, but Ill let you have it in good time.
DR. GIBSON enters downstage left with the opened letter in one hand and
some papers in the other.
DR. GIBSON (waving the letter): Well, now the town is going to have
something interesting to talk about, I can tell you!
MRS. GIBSON: What on earth have you done this time, Harry?
DR. GIBSON: Done? Ive made a tremendous discovery, Kate.
HINCHCLIFFE: Fancy?
MRS. GIBSON: A discovery?

An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and


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DR. GIBSON: A discovery; my discovery. (Pacing up and down.) Just let


them try saying this time its all the product of my crazy imagination!
Theyll all have to be more careful what they say, I can tell you!
PETRA: Father, tell us! Youre keeping us all in the dark.
DR. GIBSON: Just hover a blink or two, Petra. Youll soon know all about
it. Oh, if only I had Peter here right now! It just goes to show how some men
think they can see everything, when in reality theyre as blind as moles
HINCHCLIFFE: Just what are you getting at, Doctor?
DR. GIBSON (standing still at the card table): Let me ask you then: is it or
isn't it the universally held belief that our town is a healthy place?
HINCHCLIFFE: It is. Without a shadow of doubt.
DR. GIBSON: An exceptionally healthy place, in fact. A place that deserves
to be commended in glowing terms; just as much for invalids as for people
who are well. More so for invalids, in fact
MRS. GIBSON: Yes, Harry, but what
DR. GIBSON: And weve been doing just that; recommending and praising
it. Ive personally written leaflets, pamphlets, articles for the Peoples
Messenger.
HINCHCLIFFE: All of that, Doctor; but what about it?
DR. GIBSON: And those Baths weve called them things like the "main
artery of the town's life-blood, the "nerve-centre of our town and goodness
knows what else besides.
HINCHCLIFFE: I even called them "the town's pulsating heart" in a recent
editorial.
DR. GIBSON: So you did. Well, do you know what they really are; these
monumental, magnificent and much praised Baths that have cost us all so
much money? Do you know what they really are?
HINCHCLIFFE/ MRS GIBSON/ PETRA (together): No/ Yes/ What?
HOOPER: Well then, what are they?
DR. GIBSON: The whole place is a septic tank: a cess-pit!

An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen in a new translation and


adaptation by Michael Johnston. September 2010

14

PETRA/ MRS GIBSON/ HINCHCLIFFE (together): The Baths, father?/ Our


Municipal Baths?/ But, Doctor surely not!
DR. GIBSON: The whole place is poison-baited trap, I tell you. Its the
gravest possible danger to public health! All the nastiness up at Amberdale
tanneries, all that stinking filth, its polluting the water in the conduit-pipes
that lead into the reservoir; and the same vile, filthy poison oozes out into the
boating lake too
HOOPER: Where everyone goes bathing in the summer?
DR. GIBSON: The very same.
HINCHCLIFFE: But how can you be so certain of this, Doctor?
DR. GIBSON: Oh, Im certain, all right. Ive been investigating the matter
very carefully. For a long time Ive had my suspicions of something of the
kind. Do you remember last year there were some cases of visitors becoming
ill mostly gastro-enteritis and the like . . .
MRS. GIBSON: Yes. Thats true.
DR. GIBSON: Back then it seemed reasonable, given where they came from,
theyd been infected before they got here; but later on, in early March, I began
to wonder if there wasnt possibly some local cause and I decided to check up
on the water itself.
MRS. GIBSON: So that is what you have been so busy with, and so
secretive?
DR. GIBSON: Busy, busy, busy, Kate. But I dont really have the apparatus
necessary for very precise testing; so I sent my samples, some from the Baths
and some of the lake-water, over to the laboratories at the University, to get an
accurate analysis done by a qualified bacteriologist.
HINCHCLIFFE: And have you got the results then?
DR. GIBSON (smacking the letter): I certainly have! And they establish
beyond a peradventure the presence of a deadly cocktail of decomposing
organic matter in the water. It is full of infusoria. The water should simply
not be taken, internally or externally.
MRS. GIBSON: What a mercy you discovered it then.
DR. GIBSON: I am heartily relieved to have done so.

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HINCHCLIFFE: But what is to be done now, Doctor?


DR. GIBSON: We must get matters put right, of course.
HINCHCLIFFE: But how on earth can that be done?
DR. GIBSON: Whatever needs to be done must be done, and very soon.
Otherwise the Baths will become a total white elephant. But thats not on the
cards because I know exactly what is required.
MRS. GIBSON: But youve kept all this so secret, Harry. Why?
DR. GIBSON: I could hardly run round the town blabbing all about it before
I had some real proof? No, Kate. Whatever Peter says of me sometimes,
medically Im nobodys fool.
PETRA: Even so, you might have let us know.
DR. GIBSON: I couldnt tell a living soul without the proof. But, tomorrow,
you can trot round and tell the old Silver Fox
MRS. GIBSON: Oh, Harry! Harry!
DR. GIBSON: Sorry, Kate, sorry; (to Petra) tell your grandfather, then. Itll
give the old boy something serious to think about! Hes another one that
thinks Im potty, and maybe there are lots of other people who think so. But
now these goody-goodies will see. Wont they just see! (Walks about,
rubbing his hands.) Therell be a humdinger of an upset in the town, Kate;
hard to imagine how much of a to do. For a start, all the conduit-pipes will
have to be relaid.
HINCHCLIFFE: But thats incredible! All the conduit-pipes? Thatll take a
bit of brass!
DR. GIBSON: Its what has to be done. The whole point is that the intake is
too low down. It will have to be re-sited much higher up.
PETRA: Then you were right after all, father.
DR. GIBSON: There you are; you remember, Petra. I wrote to the paper
opposing the plans long before the work was begun. But who would listen to
me then? Well, they are going to have to give me a fair hearing now. Ive
already prepared a detailed report for (pompously making mock salaams) the
Board of the Spa Baths Municipal Partnership Limited not forgetting the
growing number of local shareholders and bond holders. Ive had it ready for
a week or more, only waiting for this letter to come. (Waving the letter.)
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Now it can go off without a moments delay. Look; here you are! (Waves the
other hand.) Four densely packed pages and a copy of the letter to go with
them. (Puts everything into an envelope on the large table and addresses it
with a flourish.) Tan-tan-tara! Now give it to to (stamps his foot) whats
her name? Give it to the maid, and tell her to take it round to the Mayors
house at the double.
Mrs. Gibson takes the envelope and exits right.
PETRA: I cant imagine what Uncle Peter will say?
DR. GIBSON: What on earth is there for him to say? I should think he
should be very grateful such an important truth has been brought into the light
before too much harm was done.
HINCHCLIFFE: You will let me print a short note about your discovery in
next weeks Peoples Messenger?"
DR. GIBSON: I should be very much obliged if you would, Hinchcliffe.
HINCHCLIFFE: Its essential the public be informed of this without delay;
and its quite a scoop for the Peoples Messenger.
DR. GIBSON: Certainly. The people must have their messenger.
MRS. GIBSON (coming back in): Shes gone off with it.
HINCHCLIFFE: Upon my soul, Doctor Gibson, you are going to be the
foremost man in this town, a real man of the people!
DR. GIBSON (walking about happily): Nonsense, nonsense! Im only doing
my duty; just carrying out my job. I put two and two together and made a
lucky find, that's all. Still, all the same
HOOPER: Hinchcliffe, don't you think the town ought to get up some sort of
testimonial to Dr Gibson? Whats the usual form?
HINCHCLIFFE: Why not? Ill suggest it to Armitage. Hes the man for
that sort of thing.
DR. GIBSON: No, no, dear friends; don't let us have any of that sort of
fiddle-faddle. I wouldn't hear of it. And if the Baths should think of voting
an increase in its Medical Officers salary, I wont accept it. Do you hear me,
Kate? I won't accept it!

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MRS. GIBSON: Im sure youre quite right, Henry dear. (With just a hint of
irony) Its not as if you need the money!
PETRA (lifting her glass): Heres to your own health, father!
HOOPER: Your very good health, Doctor!
HINCHCLIFFE (at the same time): Good health; yes. Thats a very
appropriate toast, in the circumstances.
HOOPER (touches glasses with DR. GIBSON): I hope all this will bring you
nothing but good luck.
DR. GIBSON. Thank you, thank you all very much! I feel on top of the
world! Its quite something for a man to be able to say hes done a real
service for his native town and, more especially, the people, his fellowcitizens. Come on Kate, lets have a dance! (He whirls her round and round,
right across the stage, while she protests with laughing cries. Everyone is
laughing, clapping, and cheering the DOCTOR.)
HINCHCLIFFE: We salute you, Doctor! The Peoples Friend!
End of ACT 1

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ACT II
SCENE the same, next morning. MRS. GIBSON, with a sealed letter in her
hand, enters upstage right; she pauses, looking at the letter, then crosses
down stage left and looks off-stage.
MRS. GIBSON: Are you there, Harry?
DR. GIBSON (off-stage left): Yes, Ive just come in. (Enters) What is it?
MRS. GIBSON: Its a letter from your brother, delivered by hand.
DR. GIBSON: Aha, lets see this then! (Opens the letter and reads) "I return
herewith the report and enclosures you sent me." (Reads on for a moment or
two in a low murmur) Ho-hum!
MRS. GIBSON (after a pause): Well, what does he say?
DR. GIBSON (putting the papers in his pocket): Precious little, except that
hell come round himself later this morning, around midday.
MRS. GIBSON: Well, youd better be in this time.
DR. GIBSON: That wont be a problem. Ive done all my morning calls.
MRS. GIBSON: Id dearly love to know how hes taking it all.
DR. GIBSON: One things certain hes not going to like the fact that I
made the discovery.
MRS. GIBSON: Aren't you a just a little bit nervous about what hell say?
DR. GIBSON: Kate! It stands to reason hell be pleased; and thats despite
the fact Peter is so confoundedly jealous of anyone's doing any service to the
town except himself.
MRS. GIBSON: Come now, Harry be good-natured, and share the credit of
this with him. Couldn't you make out that it was he who put you on the scent?
DR. GIBSON: Kate, Im perfectly willing. If only I can get the thing put to
rights. I dont mind
MARTIN KYLE, whose glossy silver hair explains Gibsons nickname for him,
puts his head round the door upstage left, looks at the Gibsons enquiringly
and chuckles.

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MARTIN KYLE: Is it is it true then?


Mrs. Gibson. (Going towards him). Father its you! Dont stand there;
come in!
DR. GIBSON (not going towards him): Ah, father-in-law good morning,
good morning!
MRS. GIBSON: But come along in.
MARTIN KYLE: If it is true. Otherwise Im off.
DR. GIBSON: If whats true?
MARTIN KYLE: This fairy-tale about the water supply; can it be true?
DR. GIBSON: Certainly it is true, but how did you come to hear about it
though?
MARTIN KYLE (comes forward): Petra popped in to tell me on her way to
school
DR. GIBSON: Did she now? Word gets round!
MARTIN KYLE: Yes; it seemed such a cock-and-bull story I thought she was
only trying to make a fool of me.
DR. GIBSON: The very idea! How could you imagine shed do such a
thing?
MARTIN KYLE: I trust nobody wi nout. Thats the way to be made a fool
of before you know where you are. So is it really true, all the same?
DR. GIBSON: Well, this time you can depend upon it that it is true. Won't
you sit down, father-in-law? (Settles him on a chair at the large table) Its a
stroke of good fortune.
MARTIN KYLE (suppressing his laughter): Good fortune? For the town?
DR. GIBSON: Yes, that I made my discovery in the nick of time.
MARTIN KYLE: No, I still dont believe you. In fact, I think youre just the
sort of man whod pull your own brother's leg with a clever wheeze like this!
DR. GIBSON: Pull his leg?

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MRS. GIBSON: Thats not fair to Harry, father.


MARTIN KYLE (resting his hands and his chin on the handle of his stick and
winking slyly at the DOCTOR): Give me credit for Heavens sake. This is
just some kind of story. What was it? Some kind of little beasties that have
got into the water-pipes?
DR. GIBSON: Theyre called Infusoria.
MARTIN KYLE: Theyve got a funny name, have they, the little beasties?
According to Petra lots and lots of them; and all marching down the pipe and
coming from the tanneries.
DR. GIBSON: Hundreds of thousands of them; millions in all probability.
MARTIN KYLE: But of course no one can see them. Thats very clever!
Thats the clever part!
DR. GIBSON: Of course you cant see them; theyre microscopic.
MARTIN KYLE (chuckling): Damn me if that isnt the finest story I ever
heard!
DR. GIBSON: What do you mean?
MARTIN KYLE: Youll never get the Mayor to believe a thing like that, will
you?
DR. GIBSON: Well see about that, father-in-law; well see about that.
MARTIN KYLE: He cant be that much of a fool, surely. (Pause) Still!
DR. GIBSON: Im expecting the whole town to be fooled; as you choose to
call it.
MARTIN KYLE: The whole town! My! That would be something. And it
would just serve them right; teach them all a lesson. And they deserve it; they
deserve it. They booted me off the Council because I objected to the expense
of the Spa Baths nonsense. Booted me out, they did. Well now they might
just have to pay for it. You just go on pulling their legs for a few days more,
Harry, please. Thats all I ask.
DR. GIBSON: Father-in-law, really! I protest . . .
MARTIN KYLE: You pull their legs! (Gets up) If you can work it so that the
Mayor and his fancy friends all swallow the same bait, Ill give ten pounds to
charity; like a shot!
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DR. GIBSON: That is very generous of you.


MARTIN KYLE: You just pull the wool over their eyes and Ill pull the rug
from under their feet. (Gets up) If you can get the Mayor and his cronies to
swallow the same bait, you wont be the loser by it either, Ill tell you that for
nothing.
HINCHCLIFFE enters through the upstage left door.
HINCHCLIFFE: Good morning! (Stops) Oh, I beg your pardon; youre busy.
DR. GIBSON: Not at all; do come in, old chap.
MARTIN KYLE (with another chuckle): Aha! So hes in on this too?
HINCHCLIFFE: What do you mean by that, may I ask?
DR. GIBSON: Certainly he is.
MARTIN KYLE: I might have known it! Thats the plan get it into the
papers. You know how to set about it, Harry! Get the grey cells working, eh?
Well, Im off. Youve given me plenty to get on with.
MRS. GIBSON: Won't you stay a little while?
MARTIN KYLE: No, I must be off now. You keep this thing on the boil as
long as you can, Harry. You won't regret it. Ill be damned if you will!
He goes out; MRS. GIBSON following him.
DR. GIBSON (laughing): Can you imagine? The old boy doesn't seem to
believe a word of all this, about the water supply and the tannery.
HINCHCLIFFE: Oh that was it, then?
DR. GIBSON: Yes, that was it. Is it the same thing that brings you here?
HINCHCLIFFE: It is, as a matter of fact. I wouldnt mind a few words,
Doctor.
DR. GIBSON: As many as you like.
HINCHCLIFFE: I wondered if youve heard from the Mayor yet.
DR. GIBSON: Hes coming round here later.

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HINCHCLIFFE: Well Ive been turning things over in my mind since last
night.
DR. GIBSON: And?
HINCHCLIFFE: I wonder, Doctor, if youve really seen the wider picture
yet. I mean the water supply business is no small matter, but happen its a
symptom of an even wider malaise.
DR. GIBSON: Whats your point, Hinchcliffe? Come on; sit down and
explain yourself. (They sit.) What are you driving at?
HINCHCLIFFE: You said yesterday the pollution of the water was due to
impurities getting into the supply pipes.
DR. GIBSON: No question its all due to the discharges from the tanneries
up at Amberdale; that stinking morass; and the cost-cutting idea of putting the
conduit pipes in below them when the scheme was running over budget.
HINCHCLIFFE: If youll pardon my saying so, Doctor, I reckon it could
really be due to quite a different morass altogether.
DR. GIBSON: Now what on earth are you talking about? What other morass
is there?
HINCHCLIFFE: The morass that is engulfing the whole town.
DR. GIBSON: Just what are you driving at, Hinchcliffe?
Hinchcliffe. Doctor, you must be aware that the major economic interests of
the town, all the municipal undertakings, have got into the hands of fewer and
fewer people over the years.
DR. GIBSON: Oh, come along now! Thats surely an exaggeration.
HINCHCLIFFE: No? If its not all in their hands then its in the hands of
their friends; its the well-to-do, the ones with a bit of brass theyre into
everything, I tell you.
DR. GIBSON: Well, if it were true then give them their due. Theyre the
ones with the knowledge and the ability; the ones with experience, the ones
taking the risk.
HINCHCLIFFE: And did they show any of that ability or knowledge when
they laid these conduit pipes where they did?

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DR. GIBSON: No; well I must grant you that. It was prime stupidity on their
part. But thats all going to be set right now. Just you see.
HINCHCLIFFE: Do you really think itll work out so easily?
DR. GIBSON: Easy or not, it simply has got to be done; for the good of the
people.
HINCHCLIFFE: And it will be if the Peoples Messenger champions it.
DR. GIBSON: I don't think that will be necessary now. No, dear chap, my
brother
HINCHCLIFFE: Forgive me, Doctor; I feel bound to tell you I feel
compelled to take the matter up, as an issue of major public importance.
DR. GIBSON: In the paper?
HINCHCLIFFE: Certainly as editor and whats more as a socialist, in the
interests of the majority of the people, Im set on breaking the grip of the selfinterested few with a stranglehold on influence and power.
DR. GIBSON: Steady on! You told me yourself what your first campaign
achieved. Practically ruined the paper and yourself with it.
HINCHCLIFFE: I cannot deny it. We were obliged to backtrack, especially
when the Spa Baths scheme was coming to fruition. The public subscription
might have been a failure, and with that any chance of putting ownership into
a wider circle of people. I even hoped to see a situation developing where
wed start to dispense with some of these grand old gentlemen that dominate
local affairs.
DR. GIBSON: Dispense with them? But didnt they finish up buying most of
the bonds? I think we owe them some debt of gratitude.
HINCHCLIFFE: I dont mind acknowledging that. But to someone of my
political persuasions I cant afford to let this news slip. The bubble of official
infallibility must be pricked. The idea that only one group, the moneyed elite,
can run things; that superstition must be destroyed like any other. Its got to
go, I tell you.
DR. GIBSON: Im entirely with you there, Mr. Hinchcliffe; away with
superstition. In the twentieth century we must believe in science.

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HINCHCLIFFE: I shall try very hard not to blame the Mayor too much for
all of it, seeing as hes your brother but truths the first consideration, isnt it?
You must be with me in that too.
DR. GIBSON: Carried nem con. But dammit, old chap, do spell out what
youre up to.
HINCHCLIFFE: Dont misjudge me, Doctor. My motives are not entirely
self-interested, no more than any other mans.
DR. GIBSON: My dear fellow, Im not suggesting your motives are in any
way impure. Im just asking what you intend doing.
HINCHCLIFFE: The fact is, and I expect you know it, Im from working
class stock, and thats what allows me to know what the people, people like
me, want out of life. And one thing they want is for their votes to be counted
like everyone elses and to have their say about whats to be done. Thats
whatll give them self-respect and encourage them to develop their faculties
and use their intelligence.
DR. GIBSON: Quite so; yes; quite so.
HINCHCLIFFE: So, as I see it, a journalist has a great deal of responsibility.
He cant neglect any favourable opportunity of liberating the masses from
serfdom the humble and the oppressed. I know perfectly well that in
plutocratic circles Ill be labelled an agitator, that sort of thing; but they can
call me what they like as long as my conscience doesnt reproach me . . .
DR. GIBSON: All right! All right, Mr. Hinchcliffe. Just dont get carried
away.
ARMITAGE enters from up-stage left. He has a confusing demeanour, selfassured yet diffident, unctuous yet opinionated. He coughs and the others
turn to see him.
ARMITAGE: Youll excuse my taking the liberty, Doctor, but the door was
open
DR. GIBSON (getting up): Ah, Mr. Armitage, its you! Do come in. Join us.
The more the merrier is the doctors prescription.
ARMITAGE: Thank you, Doctor.
HINCHCLIFFE (standing up): Would it be me youre after, Mr. Armitage?

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ARMITAGE: As a matter of fact I didnt know you were here too. Its the
Doctor I
DR. GIBSON: And here I am. What can I do for you, sir?
ARMITAGE: Well, its just that I would be grateful if you could confirm
what I have just heard, in confidence I assure you, that you mean to demand, I
mean to ask the authorities to further improve our water supply?
DR. GIBSON: For the Baths? Yes.
ARMITAGE: That too, of course. Well, I have come round to say that I, that
we, will back you to the hilt, I mean to say with all the reasonable means at
our disposal.
HINCHCLIFFE (to the DOCTOR): There you are, you see! (During the
following dialogue he smiles, nods in agreement, and takes notes in his
reporters notebook.)
DR. GIBSON: Im very grateful to you, of course (All sit.)
ARMITAGE: I, that is, we feel that in the coming days and in this situation it
will be of the greatest importance, thats to say no bad thing, to have us, the
towns small tradesmen standing at your shoulder, your back I mean. We
represent, as you might say, the solid majority in the town; provided, of
course, that we choose to act together. And it is always helpful to be on the
side of the majority, isnt it?
DR. GIBSON: Indubitably, Mr Armitage, but I confess I cant imagine why
such a formidable army would be required in this case. It seems to me such
an open and shut case.
ARMITAGE: Oh, it could be very helpful, just the same. I know the local
authorities here so well. Officials are never very keen to take up ideas that
come from other people. Thats why Ive been thinking it might not be at all a
bad thing, I dont mean be taken amiss, if we laid on a polite but firm little
demonstration.
HINCHCLIFFE: That's right, Armitage. You tell him.
DR. GIBSON: A demonstration? But what on earth are you going to
demonstrate about?
ARMITAGE: We should, it goes without saying, we should proceed with the
utmost moderation, Doctor. Moderation has always been my watchword. I

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think it is the greatest virtue in any citizen. I was thinking in terms of a


slightly larger than usual presence at the next Council meeting.
DR. GIBSON (smiling): Moderation is a well-known characteristic of yours,
Mr. Armitage. You shall inherit the earth!
ARMITAGE: Now then, Doctor, now then! But the fact is the water supply
is of fundamental importance to all of us small tradesmen. The Baths promise
to become quite a little gold-mine for the town. We shall all make a modest
but hard-earned living out of them, especially those of us who are
householders, which is why we are ready to back such a project strongly but
calmly. You know I am at present also Chairman of the Householders
Association, as well as the Chamber of Commerce.
DR. GIBSON: Indeed so.
ARMITAGE: And, would you believe, secretary of the local Temperance
Society branch. Ive always been a keen worker in the temperance cause.
DR, GIBSON: Very commendable too.
ARMITAGE: I come into contact with a great many people in the course of
my day, and you may imagine that being both a temperate and a law-abiding
citizen like yourself of course, Doctor I can claim to have a certain
influence in the town.
DR. GIBSON: Thats very true, Mr. Armitage.
ARMITAGE: So you see it would be an easy matter for me to set in train
some sort of public petition too, were that to prove absolutely necessary.
DR. GIBSON: A public petition?
ARMITAGE: Yes, one that would be both a vote of thanks to you for your
share in a matter of such significance to the town as well as a quiet but firm
call to action for the authorities. I need scarcely add that it would be drafted
with the greatest concern for moderation, so as not to cause deliberate offence
to those that hold the reins in their hands. If we pay very careful attention to
that then who can take it amiss?
HINCHCLIFFE: Never mind if they didn't like it
ARMITAGE: Dear me, no; there must be no discourtesy expressed or
implied, Mr. Hinchcliffe. It is no use upsetting the very people on whom the
outcome so closely depends. If Ive ever done that, accidentally of course, no

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good ever came of it. But no one can take umbrage at a sensible but frank
expression of the views of the majority.
DR. GIBSON: (Rising and shaking his hand.) Well, I can scarcely find
words to tell you, my dear Mr. Armitage, how delighted I am to find such
whole-hearted support among my fellow-citizens. I am quite overwhelmed!
Wont you take a small glass of sherry with me?
ARMITAGE: Thank you but no, Doctor, with my temperance convictions.
DR. GIBSON: Not even a glass of beer, then?
ARMITAGE: Nor that either, thank you, Doctor. I never drink anything
alcoholic. I must go into town now to talk this over with one or two of the
Householders Committee and start the ball rolling. (He and Hinchcliffe
stand.)
DR. GIBSON: Thats really very handsome of you, Mr. Armitage; but I cant
yet believe that all this effort is going to be necessary. It seems to me that
things should more or less happen of their own accord now.
ARMITAGE: Public authority is often somewhat slow to get moving,
Doctor. Far be it from me to cast aspersions but . . .
HINCHCLIFFE: Well, believe me, Im going to start stirring things up in the
paper.
ARMITAGE: But without extremist rhetoric I trust, Mr. Hinchcliffe. Always
with moderation, or youll achieve nothing, I say. You just take my advice; I
have considerable experience in the school of life. Well, I shall have to be
off, Doctor. You know at least that we small tradesmen are backing you up,
like a stout wall. You have the solid majority on your side, Doctor.
DR. GIBSON: Much obliged, Mr. Armitage. (Shakes hands again)
Goodbye, goodbye.
ARMITAGE: Are you heading my way towards the printing-office, Mr.
Hinchcliffe?
HINCHCLIFFE: Later, Mr Armitage, Ive something to deal with here first.
ARMITAGE: Very well. (GIBSON follows him out upstage left.
HINCHCLIFFE paces energetically, rubbing his hands with pleasure.)

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HINCHCLIFFE (as GIBSON comes in again): Well now, what do you think
of that? Don't you think this time weve put a little life into all his indecision,
dithering and shilly-shallying?
DR. GIBSON: Hinchcliffe! You cant be referring to Mr Armitage?
HINCHCLIFFE: I certainly am. He is one of those stumbling around in his
own fog, decent fellow though he may be in himself. And most of the people
in this town are the very same see-sawing and edging first to one side and
then to the other; so overcome with fear, trepidation and deference theyd
never dare to play with matches, let alone burn any bridges.
DR. GIBSON: But Armitage seems well-intentioned.
HINCHCLIFFE: Maybe, but theres summat I rate a bit higher than that; and
thats for a man to be sufficiently self-confident to take action and then to
stick to his guns. Thats what we need to see.
DR. GIBSON: Im sure youre perfectly right.
HINCHCLIFFE: Thats why Im so keen to seize this opportunity, and see if
I cant put a little vim and vigour into these goody-goody people for once in
their lives. The ideas of the authorities being infallible must be shattered.
Thats why this gross and inexcusable blunder about the water supply must be
brought to the notice of every single municipal voter at the next elections. Its
a gift, coming at this time.
DR. GIBSON: I know youre of the opinion that your approach is for the
good of the community so I wont take issue with you about the end; but lets
leave the means until I have had a talk with my brother.
HINCHCLIFFE: Fair dos, Doctor, but Im going to get a leading article
ready; and then if the Mayor were to refuse . . .
DR. GIBSON: How could you imagine such a thing!
HINCHCLIFFE: I can imagine it, Doctor, and if that were the case . . .
DR. GIBSON: In such a case, I give you my word yes, in that case you may
print my report, every word of it, and all the facts and figures.
HINCHCLIFFE: Do I have your word on that?
DR. GIBSON (giving him the MS): Here; take this copy with you now. It
cant do any harm for you to read it, and you can give it back to me when it

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isnt needed. Take note, though. It must be accurately typeset and I must
proof-read it.
HINCHCLIFFE: I can guarantee that. And if I have to give it back to you Ill
do so with a mixture of pleasure and surprise. Good day to you then.
DR. GIBSON: Goodbye, goodbye. Youll see. Everything will work out,
Mr. Hinchcliffe, without any bother at all.
HINCHCLIFFE: As to that (He shakes his head in doubt and exits
through the upstage left door.)
DR. GIBSON (crosses and looks off upstage right): Kate! Oh, Petra, are you
back from school then?
PETRA (coming in): Yes, Ive just come in.
MRS. GIBSON (coming in): Has Peter not been here yet?
DR. GIBSON: Peter? No, but Ive been having a chat with the editor of the
Peoples Messenger. Hes quite worked up about my discovery. Seems it
may have much wider implications than I first realised. And hes ready put
his paper at my disposal should necessity ever arise.
MRS. GIBSON: And do you think it will?
DR. GIBSON: No, not for a moment, Kate. But it makes a man proud to feel
he has the liberal-minded, independent press on his side. And Ill tell you
what else Ive had a visit from the Chairman of the Householders'
Association, the President of the Chamber of Commerce and the Secretary of
the local Temperance League. All three of him!
MRS. GIBSON: Oh yes! And what did Mr Armitage want?
PETRA: Mister Meek-and-mild himself?
DR. GIBSON: Only to offer me his solid support. All three bodies will
support me if it were ever to be necessary. Do you know the support I have
now?
MRS. GIBSON: Tell me then.
DR. GIBSON: The solid majority!
MRS. GIBSON: Fancy. And is that a good thing, Harry?

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DR. GIBSON: I should say so. (He paces to and fro rubbing his hands.)
Isnt it a fine thing to feel a bond of brotherhood between oneself and one's
fellows!
PETRA: And to be able to do so much with it, surely?
DR. GIBSON: And all for my own home town, Petra. That feels good too.
Off stage left a bell rings.
MRS. GIBSON: That must be Peter
They move the chairs around for a moment. The door opens.
DR. GIBSON: Come in, Peter! Come in!
PETER GIBSON (Enters: he is carrying his bicorne hat and baton of office):
Good morning.
DR. GIBSON: Glad to see you, Peter!
MRS. GIBSON: Good morning, Peter, How are you?
PETRA: Good morning, Uncle Peter.
PETER GIBSON: Only so-so, thank you very much. (To DR. GIBSON)
Henry, I received from you yesterday, long after official hours of business, a
very detailed report dealing with the alleged condition of the water at the Spa
Baths.
DR. GIBSON: Yes. And youve read it?
PETER GIBSON: Indeed I have,
DR. GIBSON: And what would you like to ask me about it?
PETER GIBSON gives a sidelong glance at the women and coughs discreetly.
MRS. GIBSON: Come along, Petra. (She and PETRA, the latter reluctantly,
go off upstage right.)
PETER GIBSON (after a pause): Was it really necessary to carry out these
investigations without my knowledge; behind my back?
DR. GIBSON: Indeed it was. Until I was absolutely certain

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PETER GIBSON: You mean you are absolutely certain now?


DR. GIBSON: Surely my report convinces you of that!
PETER GIBSON: Then would it be your intention to present this report to
the Board as some sort of official communication?
DR. GIBSON: Certainly. Something needs to be done and quickly.
PETER GIBSON: As ever, you employ the most exaggerated phraseology in
your report. You say, for instance, that what we are peddling to our customers
is a supply of undiluted poison.
DR. GIBSON: Well, undiluted is a technical error, I agree, but can it really
be described in any other way, Peter? Just think of it water thats
poisonous, whether you drink it or bathe in it! And this is what we are
offering to those already unwell people who come trusting us, and whats
more paying us a substantial sum to be made well again!
PETER GIBSON: And your tortured logic leads you to assert that we must
put in a massive sewer to divert the alleged impurities from Amberdale
tanneries and, over and above this, new water conduits?
DR. GIBSON: Exactly! Do you see any other way? I can't.
PETER GIBSON: Well I have to tell you I went to see the Borough Engineer
this morning and asked him, purely hypothetically of course, about proposals
such as these; ideas of mine, I told him; that I might put forward at some time
in the future.
DR. GIBSON: Some time in the future! Some unspecified time in the future,
I suppose.
PETER GIBSON: I must say he was amused at the extravagance of my ideas.
Henry, have you given the least thought as to what your proposed scheme
might cost? If the Borough Engineers estimate is in any way accurate, we are
talking in the region of ten to twenty thousand pounds.
DR. GIBSON: So much!?
PETER GIBSON: Absolutely; and thats not all. The worst part is that the
project would take a minimum, a minimum mark you, of two years to
accomplish.
DR. GIBSON: Two years? Two whole years?

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PETER GIBSON: Minimum. And what, I ask you, do we do with the Baths
in the meantime? Wed have to close them down. No choice in the matter.
In any case, would anyone come near the place once it got out that the water
was unhealthy?
DR. GIBSON: But Peter, thats what it is now.
PETER GIBSON: And right at the very moment right at the moment when
the whole country is beginning to talk about us. And it isnt as if there arent
other towns in the area with all the right qualifications for attracting visitors
like Harrogate and Ripon theyd pull out all the stops to take away our
visitors. No question of it. And then we would be in Queer Street. Wed
have to abandon the entire project, a project that has cost the municipality and
all the private subscribers a fortune. You would have ruined your native
town.
DR. GIBSON: I ruined me? No.
PETER GIBSON: It is wholly and uniquely the Spa Baths that have reestablished the local economy and secured it any kind of future worthy of
consideration and thats a simple statement of the facts.
DR. GIBSON: But what what on earth whats to be done then?
PETER GIBSON: For a start, this report of yours hasnt convinced me that
the condition of the Spa water is even half as bad as you make it out to be.
DR. GIBSON: Peter, its even worse or it certainly will be by the summer,
as soon as the weather warms up.
PETER GIBSON: As I was saying, I think youre guilty of wild
exaggeration. As an experienced family doctor, you ought to know exactly
what preventative measures to put in train at the first sign of any symptoms
should they ever occur.
DR. GIBSON: Really! Speaking as the towns self-appointed Public Health
Inspector, what else would you propose?
PETER GIBSON: The water supply for the Spa Baths is an established fact.
It cant simply be wished away. We cant possibly consider scrapping it.
DR. GIBSON: However?
PETER GIBSON: However, in its wisdom and at its entire discretion, the
Board may well be ready to consider the long-term possibility of a number of
modest improvements consistent with the forecast revenue stream.
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DR. GIBSON: And do you suppose Id lend my name to any such jiggerypokery? The very idea!
PETER GIBSON: Jiggery-pokery!
DR. GIBSON: Absolutely! It would be a palpable deceit, a downright
betrayal of the public; a crime perpetrated on the people.
PETER GIBSON: How dare you! As I said a moment ago, as an intelligent
layman, I simply do not see that there is any imminent danger. Your reaction
is one of panic.
DR. GIBSON: Peter, its not me thats panicking, its you! How can you
look me in the eye you see, you see, youre turning away and tell me you
are not convinced? Ill tell you what your problem is. It was your efforts and
your finagling that had the water pipes laid where they are; and thats what
youre ashamed to admit to your own unforgivable, greedy, selfish blunder.
Peter, I can see right through you.
PETER GIBSON: Even if a single word of that were true, which I deny, I
protect my reputation only in the greater interests of the town. Without moral
authority and credibility, I cannot direct public affairs as it seems in my
judgement is for the best and for the common good. And thats why as well
as for financial reasons its a matter of urgency and importance that not a
word of your report should go to the Board or anyone else. In the common
good, you must withhold it, dyou hear; later on, perhaps, I can carefully
broach the issue privately but until then not a whisper of this unfortunate
business must get out.
DR. GIBSON: I am afraid you simply cant prevent that, Peter.
PETER GIBSON: It must, it shall be prevented. I say so!
DR. GIBSON: No use stamping your foot, I tell you. Too many people
already know about it.
PETER GIBSON: Already know? Who? Surely you don't mean the
"People's Messenger"?
DR. GIBSON: Yes, he knows; and Armitage. The liberal-minded
independent press and the towns small businesses are going to see that you
do your duty.
PETER GIBSON (after a short pause): You are an extraordinarily nave
man, Henry. Have you never given any thought to the consequences all this
may have for yourself?
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DR. GIBSON: Consequences? What consequences?


PETER GIBSON: Consequences for you and your family.
DR. GIBSON: What the devil do you mean by that?
PETER GIBSON: I have always behaved in a very brotherly way to you,
Henry. I always been ready to oblige you put bluntly to help you out, have I
not?
DR. GIBSON (wary pause): You have and I am grateful for it.
PETER GIBSON: There is no need to thank me. Indeed, the truth is I had to
do it for my own sake. I had hopes that if I were able to improve your
financial position I might somehow keep you in check prevent you
damaging my own reputation.
DR. GIBSON: Aha! Then it wasnt only for my sake?
PETER GIBSON: Up to a certain point, of course. Its awkward for a man in
my official position to have his nearest relative compromising himself
financially.
DR. GIBSON: Which you think I did?
PETER GIBSON: Yes, unfortunately, you did; without even realising it
sometimes. You have a restless disposition and take no heed for the morrow.
But whats worst is that disastrous propensity of yours of wanting to put pen
to paper about anything and everything so long as its preposterous. The
moment an idea comes into your head, you just have to write an article or
even a whole pamphlet about it.
DR. GIBSON: But surely its the duty of any conscientious citizen to let
people share in any new ideas that he may have worked out?
PETER GIBSON: The people dont need any new ideas. The people are best
served by the well-tried, well-tested ideas they already have.
DR. GIBSON: And is that what you really believe?
PETER GIBSON: Of course I believe it, and I think its time for some frank
talking. Ive been putting this moment off too long. Henry, you just dont
know how eccentric and irritating you are, rubbing authority up the wrong
way. You just dont grasp the damage that you do yourself, and when no one
does what you want then you think you are being neglected and persecuted,

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and that just makes you worse. But with a cantankerous trouble-maker, such
as you, what else can one expect?
DR. GIBSON: What else then! So Im cantankerous, am I? Me!
PETER GIBSON: The word describes you to a T: cantankerous, and difficult
to work with in consequence, as I know to my cost. You take not the slightest
notice of what may be in your own best interest and, whats more you seem to
forget completely that it is me you have to thank for your being appointed as
medical officer of the Spa Baths. There were not a few raised eyebrows, I can
tell you.
DR. GIBSON: Dammit Peter, I was entitled to the job I and nobody else! I
was the very first person to see how the town could be turned into a
flourishing watering-hole, long before anyone else would see it or admit it. I
fought single-handed for years and years; writing letter after letter from up
north
PETER GIBSON: You certainly did. But things were just not ripe for the
scheme then and how could you judge that, up in your out-of-the-way corner
of Scotland. But, when the opportune moment came, it was I, together with a
few others, who took the initiative.
DR. GIBSON: Huh!! You took the initiative and made a splendid mess of all
my plans. It must be obvious to you now what clever fellows you all were.
PETER GIBSON: Whats obvious is that youre only looking for yet another
fight to pick. Thats just your style. You want to quarrel with the authorities
as you always do. You just cannot handle being anybodys subordinate. You
treat any and every superior as a personal enemy, an enemy, Henry. Well,
like it or lump it now that Ive told you bluntly the towns vital interests are
at stake here, never mind your own, youre going to have to listen to me and
do exactly what I tell you. No ifs or buts.
DR. GIBSON: And what, pray, are you going to tell me, you pompous jackin-office?
PETER GIBSON: Since youve been so indiscreet as to blab to all and
sundry about it, completely ignoring the fact you ought to have treated the
matter as both official and confidential, we just cant hush it up now. There
will be all kinds of rumours and there wont be a few, like Hinchcliffe and his
kidney, with grudges against authority, wholl enjoy embroidering these
stories. So the long and the short of it is that you, as Medical Officer, must
publicly refute them.
DR. GIBSON: I simply do not understand what you are saying.
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PETER GIBSON: And furthermore you will announce that you are
undertaking further investigations that will lead you to the soundly-based
conclusion that the matter I will not dignify it with the label problem is
nothing like as serious, far less as dangerous, as it might have seemed at a first
cursory glance.
DR. GIBSON: Oho! so thats what you expect me to do!
PETER GIBSON: Exactly so, and whats more, I shall look to you to make a
public statement of your confidence in the Board of the Spa Baths Municipal
Partnership and in their readiness to consider, with due diligence, what steps
might, in due course, seem necessary to correct any minor defects, if indeed
there are any.
DR. GIBSON: But you simply cannot put matters right by patching and
tinkering. Its impossible, Peter. I meant what I said in my report; every
well-chosen word of it. Its my personal and professional opinion.
PETER GIBSON: In your capacity as an employee of the company, you have
no right to any individual opinion.
DR. GIBSON: No right? No right? I have no right!
PETER GIBSON: In your official capacity, none. As a private person, it may
be another matter. But as a subordinate member of the staff you have
absolutely no right to express a point of view that contradicts that of your
superiors.
DR. GIBSON: This is preposterous! Im a doctor, a scientist. You say have
no right?
PETER GIBSON: The matter is not simply medical or scientific. It is
exceedingly delicate and complex, with economic as well as technical
implications.
DR. GIBSON: I don't care if it has astrological implications. I shall feel free
to express my opinion on anything under the sun.
PETER GIBSON: Just as you please, Henry, but not on anything to do with
the Spa Baths. That I expressly forbid.
DR. GIBSON (shouting): You forbid! You! Youre just a pack of
PETER GIBSON: I forbid it and, as your employer and paymaster if I
forbid it, you have to obey.

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DR. GIBSON (only just controlling himself): Peter if you were not my
brother
PETRA (bursting in from upstage right): Father, dont stand for this!
MRS. GIBSON (coming in after her): Petra, Petra!
PETER GIBSON: Been listening at keyholes, have we?
MRS. GIBSON: You were talking so loudly, both of you, we could hardly
help hearing.
PETRA: Of course I was listening.
PETER GIBSON: Well, when alls said and done, it might be just as well. I
wont need to explain or repeat myself.
DR. GIBSON (going towards him aggressively): You were going to say
something about forbidding and obeying?
PETER GIBSON: You force me to take that tack.
DR. GIBSON: And so you want me to publicise a lie?
PETER GIBSON: I consider it absolutely essential you make some public
statement in the terms I have asked for.
DR. GIBSON: And if I decline to obey?
PETER GIBSON: Then the Board will publish a statement itself, as a
reassurance to the public.
DR. GIBSON: Go right ahead, damn you, Peter. But, like you said, Ill take
up my pen against authority, against my superiors and, by force of argument
and logic, Ill show the people whos their real friend. Then what will you
do?
PETER GIBSON: Then Henry I shall not be able to prevent the Board
agreeing that you be dismissed.
DR. GIBSON: What ?
PETRA: Youd dismiss Father?
MRS. GIBSON: Oh God, no, not again!

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PETER GIBSON: Dismissed from any employment by the Spa Baths


Municipal Partnership Limited. I think you can count on instant dismissal and
a total ban in any future involvement in the Spa Baths' affairs.
DR. GIBSON: You wouldnt dare!
PETER GIBSON: Its you that seem to be playing a game of dare if you
think Im bluffing.
PETRA: Uncle, what a shameful way to treat an honourable man like father!
MRS. GIBSON: Hold your tongue, Petra!
PETER GIBSON (looking at PETRA): Oh, so we feel free to volunteer our
opinions, do we, Miss? (To MRS. GIBSON) Katherine, since you are the
most sensible person in this house, I beg you, use any influence you may have
over your husband. Try to make him see what this will mean for his family as
well as
DR. GIBSON: You leave my family out of this
PETER GIBSON: for his own family, as well as for the town he presently
lives in.
DR. GIBSON: But I am the one who has the real good of the town at heart. I
simply want to put into the public domain the defects and mistakes that are
bound to come to light. Ill show the people who truly loves his native town.
PETER GIBSON: And yet, in your blind obstinacy, you want to cut off the
single most important source of the town's welfare?
DR. GIBSON: The source is poisoned, man! Are you out of your mind? The
town is making its living retailing filth and pollution! The whole of our
flourishing municipal life is living on a lie!
PETER GIBSON: Thats a figment of your imagination or something even
worse. Any man who can throw out such offensive insinuations about his
own town must be seen as an enemy of the community at large.
DR. GIBSON (going up to him again): How dare you say that?
MRS. GIBSON (thrusting herself between them): Harry! Peter!
PETRA (catching her father by the arm): Please don't lose your temper,
father!

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PETER GIBSON: I will not expose myself to physical assault. Youve had
your warning; so think on. Consider what you owe to your long-suffering
wife and child. I bid you all Good Day. (Exits upstage left.)
DR. GIBSON (pacing up and down, waving his arms in the air): Such
treatment! Im speechless, speechless Kate! I cant believe I heard it. My
own brother!
MRS. GIBSON: It was hurtful and quite horrid, Harry, but
PETRA: Id like to give Uncle Peter a piece of my mind.
DR. GIBSON: (taking a few deep breaths): Perhaps, it is my fault. Maybe I
ought to have let fly at him long ago; bitten his pompous head off! He called
me an enemy of my own community. Me! Im not going to take this lying
down, Kate. You mark my words.
MRS. GIBSON: But, Harry, Peter has the power on his side.
DR. GIBSON: He may have might, but I have right on mine I tell you.
MRS. GIBSON: Right! Right! What use is it having right on your side if
you cant do a thing with it?
PETRA: Oh, mother how can you say that?
DR. GIBSON: You cant say that, in a free country like this, its no use
having right on your side. Thats absurd, Kate. And another thing, its not
just me hes up against. Ive got our radical and independent press on my
side, to carry the banner, and the backing of the solid majority. Thats might
enough, I reckon.
MRS. GIBSON: But, Harry, you arent going to
DR. GIBSON: Im not going to do what?
MRS. GIBSON: Set yourself up in opposition to your own brother?
DR. GIBSON: For pitys sake, Kate, what else can I do but take my stand on
the side of right and truth?
PETRA: Just what I was going to say, Father. Bravo!
MRS. GIBSON: But what on earth good will it do you? If that lot wont
budge, they wont budge.

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DR. GIBSON: Just give me time, Kate, and Ill carry the war into their own
camp. Just you wait and see.
MRS. GIBSON: If you carry the war into their camp, their first counterattack will be your dismissal and then what will you do go back up to
Scotland?
DR. GIBSON: Whatever happens, I shall have done my duty towards the
people towards the community. And my brother dares to call me their
enemy.
MRS. GIBSON: But what about your duty towards your family, Harry?
Towards your own hearth and home! Will you be doing your duty towards
those you have to provide for?
PETRA: Dont always think first about us, Mother.
MRS. GIBSON (rounding on her): Its easy for you to talk, young madam.
Youre able to shift for yourself, if needs be. But Harry and I will suffer
again.
DR. GIBSON: Kate, please, oh please! If I were to be such a miserable
coward as to go on my knees to Peter and his damned Board, would I ever
know an hour's peace for the rest of my life?
MRS. GIBSON: God preserve us from the peace of mind we shall have if
you go on defying him! Youll find yourself again without anything to live
on. I would have though youd had enough of that. Remember that, Harry;
just think what that means. (She is very close to tears.)
DR. GIBSON (collecting himself with a struggle and clenching his fists): Im
a free and honourable man, Kate, and youre asking me to submit to slavery.
Its just too horrible for me to contemplate.
MRS. GIBSON: I know, I know, Harry. But look around you; one has to put
up with so much injustice nowadays. Here, everywhere I blame the War.
DR. GIBSON: No, Kate, even if the whole world goes to pieces, I will never
bow my knee to this injustice.
MRS. GIBSON: But Harry what are we going to do?
DR. GIBSON: I mean to retain the right to look the world in the face. (Exits
downstage left.)

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MRS. GIBSON (sinking onto a chair and bursting into tears): God help us
all!
PETRA: Isnt Father splendid? Hell never give in.
End of Act 2.

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ACT III
SCENE the editorial office of the "People's Messenger." There is an Lshaped plain screen the longer leg of which runs from near upstage left at a
shallow angle about three-quarters of the way across the stage then the short
leg, about a doors width, turns back upstage. A large table with two chairs is
downstage left and a small round table is downstage right. HINCHCLIFFE is
sitting at the large table writing. Seen through a window with a Venetian
blind on the longer leg of the L, ARMITAGE picks up a manuscript and enters
round the shorter leg of the L.
HINCHCLIFFE (still writing): Have you read it then?
ARMITAGE (laying the MS on the desk): I certainly have.
HINCHCLIFFE: Id say the Doctor bowls pretty hard and very fast.
ARMITAGE: Hes not entirely moderate in tone but every word falls into
place like the pieces of a jigsaw.
HINCHCLIFFE: Thats how it must be the vested interests are not the sort
of people to throw in the sponge straight away.
ARMITAGE: That is true; but as I sat in there reading this, I almost seemed
to see a revolution being fomented. Will you be putting this in then?
HINCHCLIFFE: Yes, by heck, as soon as the Doctor gives the word and if the
Mayor doesn't like it he can bloody well lump it.
ARMITAGE: That would be awkward. As your landlord as well as your
printer, I wouldnt want to see you have another setback.
HINCHCLIFFE: Well, fortunately we can turn the situation to good account,
whatever happens. If the Mayor wont back the Doctor's project, hell have all
the small tradesmen down on his back, not to mention the Householders'
Association and the rest. But if he does go for it, hell upset all the large
shareholders and bondholders whove just stumped up a pretty penny to take
control of the new company.
ARMITAGE: They see the prospect of a moderate return
HINCHCLIFFE: Ill say they do! But now their grip will be broken. And
then in every issue of the paper well take issue with the way the Mayor's
losing his touch, and make it clear that control of municipal affairs ought to be
put in the hands of those who truly care for the peoples interests more than
their own. The people you represent, Armitage.
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ARMITAGE: That could all come true! I can even see it coming. Maybe we
are on the brink of a revolution! My goodness, Hinchcliffe. My goodness!
A knock is heard, off-stage right.
HINCHCLIFFE: Now who can that be? Come in! (DR. GIBSON comes in
upstage right. HINCHCLIFFE goes to meet him.) Ah, it is you, Doctor! And
what can this visit betoken?
DR. GIBSON: You can go ahead and print my article, Mr. Hinchcliffe, just
as soon as you can.
HINCHCLIFFE: Has it come to that, then?
ARMITAGE: Oh dear me!
DR. GIBSON: Yes, print away. Ive made my decision. Now they must take
what they get. Its going to be a fight to the finish!
HINCHCLIFFE: War to the knife, eh? We will get them on the run, Doctor!
DR. GIBSON: And thats only a start. Ive already got quite a few more
sketched out. (Acknowledging ARMITAGE) Im sorry in my excitement
good evening, Mr. Armitage.
ARMITAGE: Good evening, Doctor as you say, exciting times, but not too
exciting, I hope.
HINCHCLIFFE: More articles, Doctor. About the Baths?
DR. GIBSON: Oh no, not directly, no, but they all spring from the question
of the water supply and the drainage; public health issues dyou see? One
thing leads to another, you know. Its like beginning to pull down an old
house.
ARMITAGE: Youre not thinking of pulling down the Baths surely, Doctor?
DR. GIBSON: No, perish the thought, Mr. Armitage. Anyway, what do you
think of my article, Mr. Hinchcliffe?
HINCHCLIFFE: First class. I couldnt fault a single syllable.
DR. GIBSON: Do you really say so? Thank you very much.

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HINCHCLIFFE: It is so clear and logical. The reader doesnt need to have


any special knowledge to get the drift entirely. Youll have every red-blooded
man who reads it on your side.
ARMITAGE: Every prudent man too, I hope.
HINCHCLIFFE: The prudent, the imprudent, the whole town, Im telling
you.
HINCHCLIFFE: It can go in tomorrow.
DR. GIBSON: Thats the spirit dont lose a single day. What I wanted to
ask you, Mr. Armitage, was if you would supervise the typesetting yourself.
ARMITAGE: With pleasure. I havent lost touch with my trade now Im a
businessman, in a small way, and I can spell, unlike some.
HINCHCLIFFE pulls a face.
DR. GIBSON: Take care of it then! Not a single misprint; every word
counts. Ill look in again later this evening to see a proof. I can't tell you how
keen I am to see it in print, and see it burst upon the town.
HINCHCLIFFE: Like a flash of lightning!
DR. GIBSON: I hope it will illuminate for longer than that. You cant
imagine what I have gone through today. First I was threatened with one
thing and then another; trying to take away my most elementary rights as a
man.
HINCHCLIFFE: Doctor, if I didnt know you, Id say you must be
exaggerating.
DR. GIBSON: I tell you my own brother tried to degrade me; make a coward
of me; tried to make me put personal interests before my most deeply-held
convictions.
HINCHCLIFFE: Thats too much; damned if it isn't. Just typical though,
from that quarter.
DR. GIBSON: Well, theyre going to get the worst of it; rest assured of that.
With the "People's Messenger" as my flagship, Ill bombard them with one
article after another, like bombshells.
ARMITAGE: Bombshells, oh dear!

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HINCHCLIFFE: Hoist the Jolly Roger! This means war! Hip, hip, hooray!
DR. GIBSON: Ill grind them into the dust. Ill send in my tanks. Ill
overwhelm their feeble defences. Ill let the public see what theyre made of.
Thats what Ill do.
ARMITAGE: Moderate your tone, please Doctor. Moderate your tone!
HINCHCLIFFE: Not a bit of it! Finish them off with your mortars!
DR. GIBSON: You see, Mr. Armitage, its not just a question of the watersupply or the drains. No, its the whole social life of the town we have to
purge and disinfect.
HINCHCLIFFE: Spoken like a champion!
DR. GIBSON: All the incompetents must be turned out of office, you
understand; in every walk of life. All kinds of things are just becoming clear
to me. I havent got the total picture yet, but give me time. Energetic and able
standard-bearers; thats what we need. New men in command with their
hands on the levers of power, men with some recent experience of combat.
HINCHCLIFFE: Hear bloody hear!
DR. GIBSON: Just lets stand together and it will all be perfectly easy. Our
peoples revolution will swing into action like a well-oiled machine. Don't
you agree?
HINCHCLIFFE: Agree? I think we have a damned good chance of getting
the Council into the hands of the people; where it should be.
ARMITAGE: Well, given the case youre making, but if only we proceed
with moderation, I cannot imagine that there will be any risk. But I wouldnt
want us to get carried away exactly.
DR. GIBSON: Who cares if theres any risk or not! What Im doing is in the
name of justice, and for the sake of my own conscience.
HINCHCLIFFE: Youre bound to be supported, Doctor.
ARMITAGE: Well, well! I cant deny the Doctor comes over as the true
friend to the town a real friend of the people.
HINCHCLIFFE: Take my word for it, Armitage. Dr. Gibson is the real
friend of the people.

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ARMITAGE: You know; I fancy the Householders' Association will want to


make use of that expression; yes indeed.
DR. GIBSON (affected, grasps their hands): Thank you, thank you, both. Its
really encouraging to hear you say that; my brother called me something quite
different. By Jove, Ill pay him back for that; with interest! Now look, I must
be off to see a patient, but Ill come back later. Take care of that manuscript,
Armitage, and don't miss out a single exclamation mark! Rather put one or
two more in! Splendid, splendid! Ill see myself out. Goodbye for the
present. (Exits upstage right.)
HINCHCLIFFE: That mans going to prove invaluable.
ARMITAGE: So long as he sticks to this matter of the Baths, perhaps. But if
he roams further afield, he might be a dangerous man to follow.
HINCHCLIFFE: Youre just too meek and mild, Armitage!
ARMITAGE: Meek and mild, you say. I call it moderation and when it is a
question of the local authorities Ive learned my lessons in the school of hard
knocks, let me tell you. And youve seen it yourself, as Ive good reason to
know.
HINCHCLIFFE: Your moderation in the matter of my rent is much
appreciated.
ARMITAGE: Im a man with a conscience too, as well as a small
businessman. If you attack the national government, you don't do the
community any harm, and besides they pay no attention. They go on just as
before, despite you. But local authorities are different; they can be turned out,
and then you never know; you might get an ignorant lot taking over who
could do lots of damage to the householders and everybody else.
HINCHCLIFFE: Everybody in local government learns on the job. Thats
the way it goes.
ARMITAGE: People can only see things from their own point of view. Its
only natural.
HINCHCLIFFE: I hope I never have any interests to protect then. I couldnt
do my job. I have to see things in the round.
ARMITAGE (with a smile): Well, well, we shall see. Im reminded Fred
Slaithwaite used to sit at that table.

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HINCHCLIFFE: He was just a weathercock. Ill never be like him; Ill tell
you that for nothing.
ARMITAGE: In politics, you cant be certain of anything, I reckon
Hinchcliffe. And dont you think you may need to exercise a touch of
moderation yourself now youre applying for the post of Clerk to the Cottage
Hospital Board? You are, arent you?
HINCHCLIFFE: Well, yes; but Ill never get it; it would annoy too many of
the bigwigs although the honorarium would come in handy, I dont mind
admitting.
ARMITAGE: Thats your affair, of course, but if you accuse me of being
meek and mild, I need to point out: my political past is an open book. I dont
chop and change, except perhaps to become a little more moderate. My heart
is with the people; but my head tells me to handle the authorities carefully
the local ones, at any rate.
ARMITAGE exits round the short end of the L while HINCHCLIFFE throws
his hand up in exasperation.
HINCHCLIFFE (to himself): Now, if only I knew someone else whod sub
me the cost of paper and printing. If only I had some capital. If only the
Hinchcliffe pigs could fly! Well, anyone can dream. (Pause). Theres the
Doctor, though. Now hes hot under the collar, maybe I could rope him in
and theres more than one way to get him on my side, come to that. But
wheres the point in even thinking that way when she tells me theyre stony
broke. Mind you, theyve got her grandfather lurking in the background. The
Silver Fox must be worth a few bob and hes cracking on in years; eighty if
hes a day. Some of thats bound rub off on the next but one generation,
youd think. They seem close enough by all accounts. Still, as Armitage
says, Id be a right fool if I were counting on something as uncertain as that.
(Pause and he begins to grin.) Even so. (Frowns.) And I doubt Ill get a
sniff of the Clerks job. Not with so many of the Mayors cronies on the
Hospital Board but, by heck, if we could only knock a hole in their defences,
who knows what might follow, on all fronts. Power to the People! Happiness
for Hinchcliffe! (PETRA enters unseen upstage right). Cold brass monkeys
of the world unite; what more can you lose?
PETRA: Hello! Can I come in?
HINCHCLIFFE (embarrassed and surprised): Of course. Wont you sit
down? Youve come with a message from your father, no doubt.
They look at each other in silence for a moment. There is something
unspoken between them but neither would dare to acknowledge it.
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PETRA: No, I came on my own account. (Takes a book out of her coat
pocket) Look, heres that French story.
HINCHCLIFFE: Youve brought it back?
PETRA: Im not going to translate it now.
HINCHCLIFFE: But you said faithfully you would; only last week.
PETRA: I hadnt read it then and I dont suppose you have either.
HINCHCLIFFE: Miss Gibson, you know I dont speak French.
PETRA: And thats the point. I have read it and, quite frankly, you can't use
this for the "People's Messenger." (She puts the book on the table).
HINCHCLIFFE: Why ever not?
PETRA: Because it conflicts with all your beliefs, Mr Hinchcliffe; all youve
ever told me about the things you hold dear.
HINCHCLIFFE: But its a story; a piece of fiction.
PETRA: No, listen to me. The whole premiss of the story is that theres
some divine, some supernatural power that watches over the good, and sees
that the bad get their comeuppance, and makes everything turn out right in the
end.
HINCHCLIFFE: Well, thats all right then. Just what the public wants.
PETRA: But why should you be the one to give it to them? You dont
believe a word of it. You know perfectly well things dont happen like that in
real life.
HINCHCLIFFE: Of course not; but an editor cant always pick and choose.
He has to think about public tastes in unimportant matters. Politics may be
the most important thing in life for the front page of a newspaper at any rate;
but if I want to carry my public with me along the rocky path to liberty and
progress, I mustnt frighten them off. Quite frankly, Petra Miss Gibson if
they find a moral tale at the bottom of the page, theyll be all the more willing
to give credence to whats printed above it. Its reassurance, if you will.
PETRA: But thats shameful; setting a snare for innocent readers like that;
sitting like a spider waiting to pounce. Thats not you, surely, Mr Hinchcliffe.

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HINCHCLIFFE: Thank you for your good opinion of me. No; it was
Armitages idea in the first place; hes the businessman, Miss Gibson. Mr.
Armitage? Why, hes a mouse, not a spider. But yes he came out with the
theory and thats what prompted me to try to add a touch of class and get a
French story into the paper. A bit of culture. But I really only know what the
librarian told me about the book.
PETRA: But what has happened to those principles, your emancipated views;
everything youve told me you feel I mean that you believe?
HINCHCLIFFE (shrugs): Im a many-sided man. And you may as well
know this too. Im applying for the post of Clerk to the Hospital Board.
PETRA: I don't believe it. How could you possibly bring yourself to do such
a thing; to join the establishment?
HINCHCLIFFE shrugs silently.
PETRA: I should never have thought it of you.
HINCHCLIFFE (looking more closely at her): No? Does it really surprise
you so much?
PETRA: Yes. No. Or perhaps not altogether. Really, I don't quite know
HINCHCLIFFE: Journalists arent up to much, Miss Petra.
PETRA: Do you, do you really mean that?
HINCHCLIFFE: I think it, sometimes.
PETRA: All right then, sometimes, like schoolteachers maybe, when were
talking about the ordinary things in life, but when were talking about really
big issues, things that really matter
HINCHCLIFFE: This matter of your father's, perhaps?
PETRA: Exactly! Thats when someone like you can be worth ten of the
others. Dont you feel that?
HINCHCLIFFE: Something of the sort. Right this moment I can feel it.
PETRA: Of course you do. Yours is a splendid vocation, blazing the trail for
Truth with a capital T and for new and bolder ways of doing things. I do
admire you; because youre ready to stand up fearlessly, and take up the cause
of a man whos been wronged.
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HINCHCLIFFE: Not least when the injured man happens to be


PETRA: Happens to be so upright and honest, you were going to say?
HINCHCLIFFE (gently): Not least when he happens to be your father, I
meant.
PETRA (suddenly checked): What?
HINCHCLIFFE: Yes, Petra Miss Petra.
PETRA: So thats whats first and foremost with you, is it? Not the issue
itself? Not the facts of the matter? Not my father's generous heart?
HINCHCLIFFE: Certainly of course that too; what else, I mean (He
peters out.)
PETRA (after a pause and a shake of her head): Well, well; you have
betrayed yourself, Mr. Hinchcliffe, and frankly I shall never trust you again;
with anything.
HINCHCLIFFE: But, Miss Petra, can you really take it so badly that a chap
can do something thats mostly for your sake?
PETRA: What Im angry about is your not being honest with my father, or
me. You talked to him as if the truth and the good of the community were all
that really mattered to you. You have made fool of my father and now me.
You are not the man I thought you were, George Hinchcliffe. I shall never
forgive you never, never, never!
HINCHCLIFFE: Dont get on your high horse, Miss Petra least of all now.
PETRA: And why not now, especially?
HINCHCLIFFE: Because your father is going to need my help, if hes to
succeed.
PETRA (looking him up and down): Are you that sort of man too? Youre
despicable!
HINCHCLIFFE: Im sorry. I shouldnt have said that. It just sort of burst
out.
PETRA: I know what Ive heard and seen. Goodbye.

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ARMITAGE (enters round the L, hurriedly and with an air of mystery):


Hinchcliffe! (Sees PETRA.) Oh, for heavens sake, now whats to do?
PETRA: Heres the book. Give it to some one else. (Goes to exit upstage
right.)
HINCHCLIFFE (following her): But, Petra
PETRA: Goodbye. (Exits right.)
ARMITAGE: I say, Hinchcliffe
HINCHCLIFFE: Well? What is it now?
ARMITAGE: The Mayor is outside in the printing room.
HINCHCLIFFE: The Mayor? How did he get in?
ARMITAGE: He wants to speak to you straight away. He came in by the
back door so as not to be seen.
HINCHCLIFFE: What can he want? Best have him in, now shes gone.
(Goes round the L and invites PETER GIBSON in.) Just see, Mr. Armitage,
that no one else
ARMITAGE: Quite so. (Exits round the L.)
PETER GIBSON: Happen you werent expecting me, Mr. Hinchcliffe?
HINCHCLIFFE: Happen so.
PETER GIBSON (looking round): Very snug in here; very snug youve made
yourself.
HINCHCLIFFE: Happen.
PETER GIBSON: And now, in I come, without so much as a by-you-leave,
to take up your time.
HINCHCLIFFE: The Editor of the Peoples Messenger always has time for
the Mayor. Let me relieve you of your (He takes GIBSON's bicorne hat
and stick and puts them on the small table.) Won't you take a seat?
PETER GIBSON (sitting down by the large table): Thank you.
(HINCHCLIFFE sits down too.) I have had a very upsetting and annoying
day, Mr. Hinchcliffe.
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HINCHCLIFFE: Really? Ah well, I expect with all the matters that come
across your crowded desk Youre on the Hospital Board too. I expect you
never rest, Mr Mayor.
PETER GIBSON: The Medical Officer of the Spa Baths is solely responsible
for what has happened to my day.
HINCHCLIFFE (with a smirk): The Doctor? Fancy that.
PETER GIBSON: He has concocted a kind of report to the Board of the
Company addressing certain alleged defects.
HINCHCLIFFE: Has he indeed?
PETER GIBSON: Yes. Has he not told you? Im quite sure he said
HINCHCLIFFE: Ah, yes Well, true enough he did mention something
ARMITAGE (coming round the L): I ought to have that copy now, for
typesetting.
HINCHCLIFFE: Now! Well, there it is on the corner of the table.
ARMITAGE (taking it): I see it.
PETER GIBSON: But thats it; thats the very thing I was speaking about!
HINCHCLIFFE: Oh, is that what you were speaking about? The Doctors
new article.
PETER GIBSON: Thats not the article he wrote last year. Thats a copy of
his so-called report.
HINCHCLIFFE: Well now, Im only a layman so of course Ive only taken a
very cursory glance at it.
PETER GIBSON: But were you going to print it?
HINCHCLIFFE: I couldnt very well refuse our columns to a distinguished
man.
ARMITAGE: It goes without saying Ive nothing to do with editing the
paper, Mr. Mayor.
PETER GIBSON: I do understand!

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ARMITAGE: I merely print what is put into my hands.


PETER GIBSON: Quite so.
ARMITAGE: Id best be (Moves to exit round the L.)
PETER GIBSON: No, but hover a blink, Mr. Armitage. If youll allow me,
Mr. Hinchcliffe? (HINCHCLIFFE nods acquiescence.) Youre a sensible
and moderate man, Mr. Armitage.
ARMITAGE: Im glad you think so, Mr. Mayor.
PETER GIBSON: And someone of undoubted influence.
ARMITAGE: Among the small tradesmen, the householders and ratepayers
too.
PETER GIBSON: And the small ratepayers are the majority as we both
know.
ARMITAGE: True, Mr. Mayor, true.
PETER GIBSON: So Ive no doubt you are a very good sounding-board of
opinion among them, arent you?
ARMITAGE: I think I might just say so, Mr. Mayor.
PETER GIBSON: Fancy. Well, I am impressed that there is such a
praiseworthy spirit of self-sacrifice among the less wealthy citizens of the
municipality.
ARMITAGE: Whats that?
HINCHCLIFFE: Self-sacrifice?
PETER GIBSON: I think it is very pleasing evidence of your public spirit,
extremely gratifying evidence. Ill admit, frankly, I hadnt expected it. But
then you have a closer knowledge of public opinion than I, it seems.
ARMITAGE: Now, Id hardly want to say
PETER GIBSON: And its no small sacrifice for a town this size to make.
HINCHCLIFFE: The town?
ARMITAGE: Mr. Mayor, Im confused. Are we talking about the Baths?
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PETER GIBSON: We are indeed; and no doubt you are already aware that
the alterations the Medical Officer so confidently asserts to be desirable would
cost (He pauses deliberately and glances at a piece of paper he draws from
his pocket and puts back again) upwards of twenty to thirty thousand pounds.
ARMITAGE: How much? Thats a staggering sum.
PETER GIBSON: As you must have realised, well have to raise a municipal
loan to cover such an outlay.
HINCHCLIFFE (getting up): But why should the town pay? Youve just
raked in a small fortune from your fellow-investors.
ARMITAGE: Are you saying the interest on that loan has to come out of
municipal funds? Out of the pockets of the ratepayers?
PETER GIBSON: My dear Mr. Armitage, can you tell me where else the
money is supposed to come from?
ARMITAGE: I would have thought the wealthy gentlemen who now own the
Baths ought to the ones to stump up.
PETER GIBSON: Given their existing commitments, the proprietors of the
Spa Baths are not currently in any position to incur further material expense.
HINCHCLIFFE: Can you be absolutely certain on that score?
PETER GIBSON: I have, this very afternoon, satisfied myself that it is so. If
the town really wants these very expensive refinements, it will have to pay for
them.
ARMITAGE: Oh, my goodness, oh my giddy aunt I beg your pardon this
is quite another kettle of fish, Hinchcliffe.
HINCHCLIFFE: Happen it could be.
PETER GIBSON: But thats not the worst part of it. The worst part is that
we shall be obliged to close down the Spa for a couple of years, at the very
least.
HINCHCLIFFE: Close down the Baths? Shut them altogether?
ARMITAGE: For two whole years?
PETER GIBSON: I am assured the works will take at least as long as that. It
could even be three.
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ARMITAGE: Three years! Well Im damned, if youll pardon my language,


Mr Mayor. And what are the towns small businessmen, the hoteliers, their
staff too, what are they going to live on all this long while?
PETER GIBSON: What indeed! That is certainly an extremely difficult
question for you to answer but I assumed you had taken this into account in
giving the project your enthusiastic support. And I doubt we shall have a
single visitor in the town, if we go about telling all and sundry our water is
polluted. My brother uses some picturesque imagery to create his mythical
monster.
ARMITAGE: Then the whole thing is merely his imagination?
PETER GIBSON: Making every allowance for his wild enthusiasms, I come
to no other conclusion. And this is what you plan to give credence to in
tomorrows paper. The Board will certainly want to consult its lawyers when
it is published.
ARMITAGE: Oh my goodness gracious me. How remiss of Dr. Gibson. I
do beg your pardon, Mr. Mayor.
PETER GIBSON: My brother has unfortunately always been a headstrong
man, Mr. Armitage.
ARMITAGE: And after this revelation, would you still intend to give the
Doctor your support, Mr. Hinchcliffe?
There is a very long pause; almost a tableau.
HINCHCLIFFE: Could you suppose for a moment that I (He peters
out and puts his head in his hands.)
PETER GIBSON: Now, as it happens, Ive drawn up a short press release
that deals with the facts as they appear from the point of view of a reasonable
man. Youll see Ive indicated how certain minor glitches might, over a
period of time, be suitably remedied without overdrawing on the anticipated
revenues of the Spa Baths Municipal Partnership; provided, of course, we
have the expected good season and the hoped-for future growth.
HINCHCLIFFE: You wouldnt happen to have it with you, Mr. Mayor?
PETER GIBSON (reaching into his breast-pocket): As it happens, I do. I
brought it with me just in case.
ARMITAGE (staring at the window into the printing room): Oh, good Lord,
oh good Lord; there he is!
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PETER GIBSON: Who? My brother?


HINCHCLIFFE: Where? Where?
ARMITAGE: Hes just coming through the printing room.
PETER GIBSON: Damnation! I don't want to meet him here, and Ive a few
other things to speak to you about.
HINCHCLIFFE (pointing downstage right): Go in there for the present. Its
empty.
ARMITAGE: Quick, quick, Mr. Mayor. Hes just coming.
PETER GIBSON: Yes, very well; but get rid of him quickly. (Exits
downstage right while ARMITAGE and HINCHCLIFFE hover looking
embarrassed.)
HINCHCLIFFE: Pretend to be doing something. (They rush over to the large
table and forage among the papers.)
DR. GIBSON (enters round the L): Here I am again.
HINCHCLIFFE (writing): So soon, Doctor? Youd best take that new story,
Armitage, and get on with it. Were very pressed for time.
DR. GIBSON (to ARMITAGE): Then theres no proof for me to see yet?
ARMITAGE (without turning round): You couldn't expect it so soon, Doctor.
DR. GIBSON: Well, perhaps not. Its just my impatience, I suppose. I wont
rest easy until I see it in print, thats all.
HINCHCLIFFE: Just so. Itll take a good while yet. Won't it, Armitage?
ARMITAGE: Yes, yes. Im afraid it will.
DR. GIBSON: All right, dear friends; Ill come back later. I dont mind
coming back a couple of times if necessary. When the welfare of the town is
at stake, its no time to be a shirker. (He is just about to go out and the other
two are looking very relieved when he stops and comes back.) There is one
thing though I need to speak to you about.
HINCHCLIFFE: Forgive me but wont it keep until tomorrow?

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DR. GIBSON: I can tell you in a few words. Its just this. When my article
is published and people begin to realise how Ive been busy, beavering away
to safeguard the peoples welfare
HINCHCLIFFE: But, Doctor
DR. GIBSON: I know just what youre going to say. Its true it was no more
than a mans civic duty. Youre right, of course, and I know that as well as
you. But you did warn me that something of the sort might happen: a sort of
spontaneous reaction from people wanting to voice their good opinion of
someone.
ARMITAGE: Local people do have a very high opinion of you so far,
Doctor.
DR. GIBSON: Exactly, and thats why Im afraid they might Well, this is
the point when this gets out, especially to the working classes, it just might
ring in their ears like some kind of summons to take the town's affairs into
their own hands, and they just might
HINCHCLIFFE (getting up): Doctor I simply cant conceal from you the
fact
DR. GIBSON: There you are! Youre giving the game away. I knew there
was something in the wind! But I won't hear a word of it. If anything of that
sort is being planned
HINCHCLIFFE: Anything of what sort?
DR. GIBSON: Well, whatever it is; a public demonstration in my honour, or
a bean feast, or a subscription list for some sort of presentation; whatever it is,
you most promise me solemnly and faithfully to put a stop to it. You too, Mr.
Armitage.
HINCHCLIFFE: Forgive me, Doctor, but sooner or later were going to have
to tell you the plain truth
He is interrupted by the entrance of MRS. GIBSON, who comes in upstage
right.
MRS. GIBSON (seeing her husband): Just as I thought!
HINCHCLIFFE (going towards her): You here too, Mrs. Gibson?
DR. GIBSON: What on earth brings you here, Kate?

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MRS. GIBSON: You know very well what it is.


HINCHCLIFFE: Won't you take a seat? Or perhaps you were both leaving?
MRS. GIBSON: I hope we are. Please dont be offended at my coming to
fetch my husband. I have to take responsibility for my family.
DR. GIBSON: What nonsense is this, Kate?
MRS. GIBSON: Harry, its not at all obvious that you are prepared to take
your familys fortunes into account, dragging us all into this.
DR. GIBSON: Are you out of your senses, Kate! Because a man has a wife
and child, is he not to speak the truth? Is he debarred from being a good
citizen? Cant he serve the people?
MRS. GIBSON: Anything you like, Harry, within reason.
ARMITAGE: Just what I say. Moderation at all times.
MRS. GIBSON: And that is why you wrong us, Mr. Hinchcliffe, in
encouraging my husband away from his family responsibilities and making a
dupe of my daughter in all this.
HINCHCLIFFE: I deny any and every such imputation.
DR. GIBSON: Making a dupe of me! How could you imagine I would allow
myself to be duped?
MRS. GIBSON: The sad thing, Harry, is its just what you do. I know too
well. Youve more brains than anyone in the town, but youre short on
worldly wisdom. Mr. Hinchcliffe, do you realise that hell lose his post at the
Baths if you print what he has written.
ARMITAGE (sensing deliverance): Aha!
HINCHCLIFFE (with a gasp of relief): I cant have that on my conscience,
Doctor!
DR. GIBSON (laughing): Ha-ha! Just let them try! Ill call their bluff. You
do realise, Kate, Ive got the solid majority of the townsfolk behind me, dont
you?
MRS. GIBSON: I think thats the worst part of it; being at the head of a
rabble.

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DR. GIBSON: But thats still more nonsense! Kate: go home and look after
your house and home and leave me to look after the people. What are you so
afraid of when I am so confident and happy? (Walks up and down, rubbing
his hands.) The honest truth and the will of the people will triumph; count on
it! I see the whole of the broad-minded mass of the public marching like
some victorious army to the Town Hall. (Stops at the small table.) And what
the very devil might those be?
ARMITAGE: Good Lord! Oh, good Lord.
HINCHCLIFFE coughs.
DR. GIBSON: Just lying here, the symbols of ultimate municipal authority!
(Picks up the Mayor's official hat and holds it up in the air.)
MRS. GIBSON: The Mayor's hat!
DR. GIBSON: And heres his staff of office too. (Puts the hat on the end of
the staff and holds it aloft, beginning to swing it round and round.) Just how
in the name of all that's wonderful do these happen to be here? No, let me
guess!
HINCHCLIFFE: Its like this you see
DR. GIBSON: Oh, you neednt explain. Its as plain as a pikestaff of office.
Hes been round here trying to talk you over. Ha-ha! Didnt he make a big
mistake this time! And as soon as you caught sight of me in the printing room
he skedaddled, didnt he, Mr. Armitage?
ARMITAGE (hurriedly): I fear he did, Doctor.
DR. GIBSON: Ran away without his stick or his I dont believe so! The
Emperor Peter doesn't parade naked in the street. Where the devil have you
hidden him? (Looks downstage right.) Ah, in there, of course. Now you shall
see, Kate!
MRS. GIBSON: Harry please don't! Come home, Harry, just come home.
ARMITAGE: Don't do anything rash, Doctor.
DR. GIBSON puts on the Mayor's hat and takes his stick in his hand. He goes
downstage right and strikes the door with the staff.
DR. GIBSON: Rat-a-tat-tat! Come out; come out, wherever you are!
PETER GIBSON enters, red with anger. DR GIBSON salutes mockingly.
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PETER GIBSON: What does all this tomfoolery mean?


DR. GIBSON: Show some respect, my good Peter. I have taken over as the
chief authority in the town now. (Marches up and down.)
MRS. GIBSON (almost in tears): Really, Harry! Stop it at once.
PETER GIBSON (following him about): Give me my hat and stick this
minute.
DR. GIBSON (in the same tone as before): Ill make you chief constable if
you like, but you must call me Mr. Mayor. Im the master of this town now
Peter and youd better get used to it.
PETER GIBSON: Take off my hat, I tell you. Its an official uniform. Treat
it with respect.
DR. GIBSON: Stuff and nonsense, Peter! Do you think the newly awakened
solid majority of the people are going to be frightened by a hat? There is
going to be a revolution in this town starting tomorrow, when the truth hits the
streets. You thought you could turn me out; but now I shall turn you out
turn you out of all your multifarious offices and sinecures. And dont think I
cant, or wont. Listen to me. I have everyone behind me. Hinchcliffe will
thunder in the "People's Messenger" and Armitage will take the field at the
head of the whole Householders' Association
ARMITAGE: I certainly will not, Doctor.
DR. GIBSON: Of course you will, dear chap.
PETER GIBSON: And might I ask if Mr. Hinchcliffe intends to join in this
agitation?
All eyes are on HINCHCLIFFE in another tableau. There is as long a pause
as anyone can imagine.
HINCHCLIFFE: No, Mr. Mayor.
ARMITAGE: No; Mr. Hinchcliffe isnt such a fool as to go and ruin himself
for the sake of (He too pauses) an imaginary grievance.
DR. GIBSON (looking round him): Might I ask you both what is the meaning
of this?

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HINCHCLIFFE: I have to say I realise now that youve misrepresented your


case, Doctor, and the Peoples Messenger cannot any longer lend you its
support.
ARMITAGE: And after what the Mayor has been kind enough to explain to
us about the costs involved
DR. GIBSON: Misrepresented my case? Let the world be the judge of that.
Print my article and theyll find I can justify every word of it.
HINCHCLIFFE (boldly): I am not going to print it. I cannot and will not and
dare not print it.
DR. GIBSON: Dare not? What damned nonsense! Youre the editor; and an
editor controls his own paper. Well, doesnt he?
ARMITAGE: Not really; its the subscribers, Doctor, the paying customers
you might say.
PETER GIBSON: And quite right too!
ARMITAGE: Its public opinion, enlightened public opinion I should say:
householders and people of that kind. Theyre the ones who really control the
newspapers.
DR. GIBSON: And have all these influences now turned against me?
ARMITAGE: Oh dear, I fear they have. What you are alleging would mean
the absolute ruin of the community. We simply cant let your article appear.
DR. GIBSON: Is that a fact?
PETER GIBSON: My hat and stick, if you please. (DR. GIBSON takes off
the hat and lays it on the large table with the stick. PETER GIBSON snatches
them up.) Your brief authority as mayor has come to a swift end. The coup
dtat has failed, in five minutes flat.
DR. GIBSON: This is not the end yet. (To HINCHCLIFFE) Youre saying
its impossible to print my article in the "People's Messenger"?
HINCHCLIFFE: Its out of the question out of regard for your family as
well.
MRS. GIBSON (fired up by what has just happened): Dont concern yourself
about my family, thank you very much, Mr. Hinchcliffe. Youve done quite
enough damage to it already.
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PETER GIBSON (taking a paper from his inside breast pocket): This press
statement will be sufficient for the guidance of the public, I suggest. Its an
official statement from the office of the Mayor.
HINCHCLIFFE (taking the paper): Ill see that its printed.
DR. GIBSON: But not mine, eh? Do you imagine that you can all silence me
and stifle the truth? A fat chance let me tell you. Mr. Armitage, kindly take
my manuscript at once and print it for me as a pamphlet at my own expense.
Ill need four hundred copies--no, five or six hundred.
ARMITAGE: Even if you offered me a pound a page, I I would not
undertake it, Doctor. It would be flying in the face of public opinion. And
you wont get it printed anywhere else in this town.
DR. GIBSON: Then give it back to me, at once.
Hinchcliffe, not looking him in the eye, hands him the MS.
DR. GIBSON: Ill make it public all the same. I shall read it out at a public
meeting. My fellow-citizens shall hear the truth!
PETER GIBSON: You wont find any public hall in the town, or any hotel
for that matter, eh, Mr. Armitage, thatll give you the use of their premises.
ARMITAGE: Not a single one. You can count on that, Mr. Mayor.
MRS. GIBSON: But this is too shameful! The Doctor may have his faults
but hes an honest man. Why should every one of you turn against him like
this?
DR. GIBSON: I will tell you, Kate: because all the men in this town are
really old women. They all think of nothing but their wallets and their
families, and never of the community.
MRS. GIBSON (putting her arm into his): Old woman, indeed! Then I will
show them that an old woman can be a man for once. I am going to stand by
you, Harry!
DR. GIBSON: Thats the spirit, Kate! As I live and breathe, if I cant hire a
hall then Ill borrow a drum and march round the town reading my article at
every street corner.
PETER GIBSON: You are surely not such an old fool as that! Besides, thats
a public order offence.

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DR. GIBSON: Then be offended.


ARMITAGE: You won't find a single man in the whole town to listen to you.
MRS. GIBSON: Don't give in to them, Harry. Petra and I will listen to you.
DR. GIBSON: Splendid! You and Petra can hand out the leaflets.
MRS. GIBSON: I couldnt do that, Harry; but I will stand at the window and
watch you and Petra. Thats what I will do.
DR. GIBSON (puts his arms round her and kisses her): Thank you, my dear!
Now my fine fair-weather friends! I am going to see whether a pack of
cowards like you can succeed in gagging an honest man who wants to cleanse
society! (The GIBSONS exit upstage right.)
PETER GIBSON: My own sister! Shes been driven completely out of her
senses.
End of Act III

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ACT IV
SCENE a large room in CAPTAIN HOOPER'S house. The L now runs, at a
very shallow angle, along the rear of the stage, with the short leg at the right.
There is a low platform with four chairs facing downstage. In front of the two
centre chairs is a simple table on which sits a small hand bell. Facing the
platform are several rows of chairs; thus the stage audience have their backs
to the theatre audience. The room is filling up with townspeople. The
GIBSONS are standing stage right of the platform at one end while PETER
GIBSON, wearing his hat and carrying his staff of office, and ARMITAGE
confer at the other end. HINCHCLIFFE is at the end of the front row of the
audience, left, while HOOPER sits at the other side of the front row near the
GIBSONS. MARTIN KYLE enters left as the scene gets underway and crosses
to the right to sit behind HOOPER. There is a quiet hubbub of voices. [By
moving from seat to seat frequently, the company could double as the
townspeople. With their backs to us, we hear but cannot see the individual
Citizens speak.]
1ST CITIZEN: Hullo, Jim! You here too?
2ND CITIZEN: Nowt else doing in town tonight, is there?
3RD CITIZEN: Brought your rattle then!
2ND CITIZEN: You bet I have. I heard there might be a big row.
HINCHCLIFFE (at a discreet nod from the Mayor, rises and raises his
voice): I would just like to say that a public meeting like this ought to have a
chairman, to keep us all in order.
2ND CITIZEN: Good old Hinchcliffe! (Laughter among the crowd.)
4TH CITIZEN: Whats all this about then?
2ND CITIZEN: Dr. Gibsons going to give the Mayor a bollocking.
4TH CITIZEN: His own brother? I dont believe it.
HINCHLIFFE: I propose the Mayor take the chair. All those in favour!
PETER GIBSON: No, no, fellow citizens. For all kinds of reasons youll
perfectly well understand, I must ask you to excuse me. However, we do have
here with us tonight the very person. I refer, of course, to the distinguished
president of the Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Householders
Association, Mr Josiah Armitage.

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SEVERAL VOICES (together): Yes. Lets have Armitage! Bravo


Armitage! Propose Armitage!
DR. GIBSON takes his manuscript from his wife and mounts the platform,
walking up and down showing mounting irritation.
ARMITAGE (stepping up onto the platform): If my fellow-citizens demand
that I undertake this duty, I can hardly refuse.
Loud applause and ARMITAGE moves to one of the chairs behind the table.
PETER GIBSON then takes the chair beside him and places his hat and staff
on the end of the table. MRS GIBSON steps onto the platform and shepherds
DOCTOR GIBSON into the chair on the other side of ARMITAGE and gently
but firmly pulls him down into it, sitting herself beside him. She speaks
urgently to him sotto voce. HOOPER stands and ushers PETRA to a seat
beside him.
HINCHCLIFFE (writing with a flourish in his notebook): "Mr. Armitage was
elected by acclamation."
ARMITAGE: And now that I find myself here, I should like to say just a few
words. I am a man of peace and of moderation I believe in moderation and
discretion, discretion, yes, and moderation. Both, at all times, those who
know me will back me up in this, Im sure
SEVERAL VOICES (together): Hear, hear! Good old Armitage. For hes a
jolly good fellow. Silence for the chairman.
ARMITAGE: and I have learned in the school of hard knocks that discreet
moderation is the most valuable thing any sound citizen can aspire to
PETER GIBSON: Well spoken!
ARMITAGE: and just to make the point clear, discretion and moderation
are what enable a man to be of service to his community. I must therefore ask
our respected fellow-citizen who is solely responsible for calling this public
meeting, here in Captain Hoopers residence, to assist me in keeping
proceedings strictly within the bounds of discretion and, not forgetting,
moderation.
A CITIZEN: Three cheers for moderation!
SEVERAL VOICES (together): Quiet! Sh sh!
ARMITAGE: Let us have no further interruptions, gentlemen, please! Now,
does anyone else wish to make any introductory remarks?
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PETER GIBSON: Mr. Chairman.


ARMITAGE: The chair recognises the Mayor.
Applause and the odd cheer.
PETER GIBSON: Mr Chairman, given the family relationship I have with
the present Medical Officer to the Spa Baths, I should very much have
preferred not to speak tonight but, in my official capacity as Mayor and as
Chairman of the Board of the Spa Baths Municipal Partnership, together with
my, I hope, well-known concern for the towns vital interests and those of its
hard-working citizens, I have to say that I consider it would be best if his
unreliable and wildly exaggerated version of the sanitary conditions of the
Spa Baths were not to be given any wider circulation.
SEVERAL VOICES (together): Absolutely not! It ought not to be allowed!
Disgraceful altogether!
PETER GIBSON: I should like to propose, therefore, that this meeting should
simply not permit the Medical Officer to read or, for that matter, to comment
on his proposed lecture.
DR. GIBSON (impatiently): Not permit me? Gag me? Go to the devil!
MRS. GIBSON: Harry! You promised me.
DR. GIBSON (collecting himself): Oh, go on then. Have your say.
PETER GIBSON: In my own statement to the "People's Messenger," I have
set out the core facts in such a way that reasonable and fair-minded citizens
can judge where the truth lies and form their own opinion. As I have made
plain, the main result of the Medical Officer's proposals ignoring altogether
their libellous attack on the leading men of the town would be to burden
every ratepayer with the wholly unnecessary expenditure of many tens of
thousands of pounds.
Gasps and general hubbub.
ARMITAGE (ringing his bell): Let us have some order, please, gentlemen! I
am happy to support the Mayor's motion. I entirely agree with him and, in
fact, I am now convinced that there is something behind this. Dr. Gibson uses
the Baths as his pretext but it seems, in fact, to be a revolution hes aiming at.
He seems to want to get the administration of the town put into new and
dangerously untried hands. Now, while no one doubts the honesty of the
Doctor and I, myself, am a believer in the exercise of democracy by the
people, provided the cost does not fall too heavily on the ratepayers, thats
just exactly what seems be the case here; and that is why I call on this meeting
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to suppress Dr. Gibsons revolutionary aspirations. You can pay over the
odds for a thing sometimes; thats my opinion and Im damned youll pardon
my French if Ill give that my support.
Loud applause on all sides.
HINCHCLIFFE: Mr. Chairman, I, too, feel called upon to explain my
position. I have to admit that, at first, Dr. Gibson's approach appeared to be
arousing a certain amount of public sympathy, and so, as a chronicler of local
news and views, I was ready to report it as impartially as I could. But, in very
short order, I found reason to suspect that we were being intentionally misled
by misrepresentation of the true state of affairs
DR. GIBSON: Misrepresentation!
HINCHCLIFFE: Well, if you prefer a more moderate expression, Chairman,
lets say a not entirely valid representation. The Mayor's statement has
proved that. I hope my own radical principles are not in doubt and the attitude
of the "People's Messenger" is well known to all present. But having had the
advice of more experienced and thoughtful men, I am now persuaded that, in
purely local matters as opposed to national issues, a newspaper ought to tread
with caution.
ARMITAGE: I entirely agree with the speaker from the floor, our respected
representative of the fourth Estate.
HINCHCLIFFE: And since, in the matter now before us, it is clear that Dr.
Gibson has aroused public opinion against him, I ask myself what, as Editor,
is my principal duty. Ill tell you. I must remain in harmony with my
readership from whom I have an implicit mandate to work in their long-term
best interests, for their welfare, for the good of the people his newspaper
serves. Am I, or am I not, right in this?
SEVERAL VOICES (together): Right, absolutely right! Hear, hear! Youve
said it!
HINCHCLIFFE: I wont deny it has been painful to dissociate myself from a
man in whose house, until as recently as two days ago, I was a regular guest;
to break with a man who, in the short time since he came back from Scotland,
has gained the respect of his fellow-citizens but who, if he has a fault, is to let
himself be swayed by emotion rather than guided by reason.
HOOPER: Bravo, Dr. Gibson!
SEVERAL VOICES (together): Quiet! Order!

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HINCHCLIFFE: But that overarching civic responsibility compels me to


break publicly with him. I should add, at this time, that there is another
consideration; (PETRA rises, then hurriedly sits again) one that compels me
to speak against him and, if it lies in my power, to halt him in his tracks and
that is my consideration for the effects on his family. .
DR. GIBSON: Stick to the matter in hand, cant you? The water supply and
the sewers
HINCHCLIFFE: the effects, I say again, on his wife and daughter that he
seems determined to ignore.
PETRA: How dare you?
MRS. GIBSON: Hush!
ARMITAGE: We must move on. I will now put the Mayor's proposition to
the vote.
DR. GIBSON: Never mind that, Mr. Armitage. Ive no intention of wasting
time on that filth down at the Baths. No; Ive got something else to say
tonight.
PETER GIBSON (aside to ARMITAGE): Now whats coming?
SEVERAL VOICES (together): This isnt what we came for. Whats he on
about? The mans off his chump.
ARMITAGE: Quiet please!
DR. GIBSON: Am I ever to be allowed to speak at my own meeting?
ARMITAGE (ringing his bell): Dr. Gibson will now address the meeting.
DR. GIBSON: This has all taken my breath away and a few days ago I would
have challenged anyone who tried to silence me. But now? Well now its all
one to me; I have something of fundamental importance to say to you.
SEVERAL VOICES (together): Silence for the Doctor! Lets hear him then.
This had better be good.
DR. GIBSON: These past few days Ive been giving a great deal of thought
to all manner of things, more than one small head has room for, it sometimes
seemed.
PETER GIBSON: Quite so!
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DR. GIBSON: But the images have gradually come into focus and Ive got
the reels in the right order, you might say. And thats how it is that I can
stand before you tonight and tell you that Ive made an amazing discovery;
one that has much wider implications than finding that our water supply is
polluted and our medicinal Spa stands on pestilential soil.
SEVERAL VOICES: Youre trying to change the subject. No more of that.
Dont mention the Baths.
DR. GIBSON: Hold on, hold on! Ive already told you I want to speak about
something else and thats my discovery that our own moral fibre is being
poisoned and the entire framework of our municipality is built on foul ground
and falsehood.
SEVERAL VOICES: Now whats he on about? This makes no sense. I tell
you hes off his rocker.
PETER GIBSON: Thats a damnable insinuation!
ARMITAGE (with his hand on his bell): I must call upon the speaker to
moderate his tone and to conduct himself with greater discretion.
DR. GIBSON: Believe me, citizens; I have always loved this place, my
native town, the part of the world Ive known since childhood. I wasnt much
more than a child when I left here and the memories I carried with me cast a
golden glow over the town and its people. (Some sounds of audience
approval.) But I was in exile far to the north, first as a medical student and
then as a doctor to one of the rudest and crudest places in this country, where I
might have been more use as a vet rather than a doctor, considering the sort of
people I had to look after. (Sounds of disapproval this time.)
HINCHCLIFFE: Thats an insult to a respectable population! Withdraw!
DR. GIBSON: But no one could ever accuse me of having forgotten my
native heath while I was there, surrounded by all that heather. All the time, I
was working away at my big idea: to establish a hydropathical spa here in this
town.
SEVERAL VOICES (expressing mixed reactions): Dont mention the Baths!
Good for you, Doctor. Here he goes again!
DR. GIBSON: So when, finally and I acknowledge here the assistance of
my brother the fates relented and I was able to return home to live and work
among you, there was only one thing I wanted more than coming back and
that was to be of service to this community.

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PETER GIBSON (loud aside): Well youve chosen a funny way of doing it.
DR. GIBSON: And that explains how, dazzled by the bright lights of my
home town, I was blinded to the real facts lurking in the shadows that is
until the day before yesterday. And that, my friends, was when the scales fell
from my eyes and I saw at last the colossal stupidity of the Town Council and
its various jerry-built extensions.
PETER GIBSON: Mr. Chairman, I protest!
ARMITAGE (ringing his bell): By virtue of the authority vested in me
DR. GIBSON: Yes, Mr. Armitage, I hear you. Moderation, you were about
to say. What I really meant to say was that I suddenly found myself down
wind of the men responsible for the penny-pinching decisions they took in
setting up the Baths, and I could clearly detect the odour of hypocrisy.
(Intakes of breath.) Yes, hypocrisy which, however you sniff at it, simply
reeks of corruption and needs to be cleaned up. (Protests.)
PETER GIBSON: Mr. Chairman, you cannot allow this diatribe to continue.
ARMITAGE (with his hand on his bell): Doctor, Doctor, Doctor!
DR. GIBSON (waving them all aside): And now, of course, it baffles me how
it has taken me so long to realise just what kind of bourgeois bluebottles they
really are, hovering over the municipal dung-heap and just what an excellent
specimen my own brother is, big round and full of nothing but buzz and wind.
Amid a general uproar, ARMITAGE rises, swinging his bell. MRS GIBSON
tries to pull her husband down to his seat. PETER GIBSON shakes his fist.
HINCHCLIFFE comes forward, notebook and pencil in hand.
ARMITAGE: Doctor, this has to be your last chance. Either you moderate
your language and refrain from these slanderous insinuations or we shall have
to close this meeting.
DR. GIBSON: Very well, Mr. Armitage, ladies and gentlemen, I shall say no
more about your local worthies. And if you were to think, from anything I
have been saying that my aim or intention was to denigrate these people then
youve got hold of the wrong end of the stick. In any case, like all such
parasites, when the body politic sickens and dies, they will perish too. Its not
them, the leading lights, that constitute the most urgent danger to our
community. They are not the cause of the poisoning, merely the symptoms.
It is not they who are responsible. They merely react to the opportunities that
the primary cause has generated.

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SEVERAL VOICES (together): Youre losing us. This is flannel. Get to the
point. Name some names, Doctor.
DR. GIBSON: You can count on it I shall name them! Thats just the
amazing discovery that I made yesterday. The most dangerous enemy of truth
and freedom is, pure and simply, the so-called solid majority Yes! The
damned, smug, solid majority that lets it all happen so now you know!
Tremendous uproar: ARMITAGE rings his bell and begs for silence.
HINCHCLIFFE and PETER GIBSON are shouting and talking to each other
but are inaudible. Eventually quiet is restored.
ARMITAGE: As Chairman, I call on the speaker to withdraw his thoroughly
ill-considered and immoderate expressions.
DR. GIBSON: Never, Mr. Armitage, not one word! It is the unthinking,
silent and solid majority in our community that would deny me my freedom
and which seeks to prevent my telling the world the truth.
HINCHCLIFFE: The majority always has right on its side. Its called the
will of the people.
DR GIBSON: Mr. Hinchcliffe, the majority has never had right on its side.
Never! Its just one of these social white lies we all mouth and which any
independent and intelligent man must denounce. You tell me who make up
the majority of any population. Is it the intelligent and rational or the dull and
unthinking? I dont suppose youll tell me that the intelligent and rational
make up the solid majority, all over the world. But would you argue that the
stupid should govern the clever? (Loud protests.) Oh yes, you can try to
shout me down but what you cant do is argue the point. The solid majority
may have might on its side but that can never mean that it is right. I tell you
here and now that I am in the right. The intelligent minority is in the right.
HINCHCLIFFE: You didnt realise your brother was an aristocrat, Mr.
Mayor!
DR. GIBSON: Just you listen to me, all of you. Ill waste no more words on
the puny, scrawny, dull-witted, short-termist pack of hangers-on we are
leaving behind us. Lively minds need no longer concern themselves with
such as those. I am talking of those few among us whose minds are open to
the vim and vigour of the unvarnished truth. We shall be so far ahead of the
slow-moving solid majority. We shall be out there fighting for the newlydiscovered truths that need us to rally to their side.
HINCHCLIFFE: You really are a Bolshevik! Id never have believed it.
You want to start a revolution.
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DR. GIBSON: Exactly right Mr. Hinchcliffe. I plan to start a revolution


against the great lie that the solid majority has some monopoly on the truth.
And what kind of truths do the majority usually support? Elderly and decrepit
truths that are so much on their last legs theyre well on the way to becoming
lies. (Protests.) Oh yes, gentlemen, there are no such things as enduring
truths, as old as Methuselah. Your average truth has a working life of
seventeen or eighteen years, at most twenty. But any truth that gets to that
age is pretty clapped out and hollow. Yet its only then that the solid in
every sense of the word majority catches up with it and recommends this
thin gruel of a truth as wholesome porridge for the rest of the community. But
lively minds cant live on such mean fare. As a doctor, I can assure you of
this. These husks, these majority truths are like last months potted meat;
rancid, mouldy and the origin of the moral scurvy that is endemic in our
communities.
HINCHCLIFFE: So the Doctor is a revolutionary now!
ARMITAGE: What on earth is the point of this entire tirade, Doctor?
PETER GIBSON: Its beyond me, Mr. Chairman.
DR. GIBSON: Cant you get it into your thick head, Peter? Im sticking like
a leech to the subject because my subject is just this that the masses, the
majority, that damnable solid majority is what is poisoning the well-springs of
our moral life and, indeed, the very ground on which we stand.
HINCHCLIFFE: And you say all this because the broad-minded, clearthinking majority show proper respect for societys tried and tested truths?
Thats incredible.
DR. GIBSON: Oh dear me, Mr. Hinchcliffe, dont talk to me about tried and
tested truths! The truths the masses cling to today are those our grandfathers
fought for, but those of us at the forefront of the battle have already discarded
them. Theyre old bones of truths with no marrow in them, no nutrition. The
modern community can only thrive on modern truths with some meat on their
bones.
HINCHCLIFFE: Come now, Doctor. Instead of mouthing vague
generalities, give us some concrete examples of these old, marrow-less truths;
if you can, that is.
Applause.
DR. GIBSON: Hinchcliffe, I could give you a whole string of them but let
me confine myself to that one, old-established but long-outmoded truth, which

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is at the root of all the lies we are told and yet you and the Peoples
Messenger and all your loyal readers still feed off it.
HINCHCLIFFE: Go on then.
DR. GIBSON: Its the creed of your tribal elders which you proclaim far and
wide but never question the belief that the public, a crowd of people, the
seething masses somehow constitute the People, and that the common herd,
the dull and the dumb, the ignorant and the unthinking, have in some strange
way the same right to judge, to approve, to decide and to govern as those who
are intelligent and intellectually superior.
HINCHCLIFFE: Weve heard it all now! Fellow-citizens and readers of the
Peoples Messenger, I hope youre taking due note of all this.
SEVERAL VOICES (together): Only the nobs can govern, can they?
Rubbish! What a load of cods wallop.
1ST CITIZEN: Chuck him in the lake!
2ND CITIZEN: To hell with you.
3RD CITIZEN: Ive heard enough!
Hisses and an angry uproar.
DR. GIBSON (when the noise has somewhat abated): Come on now; be
reasonable! Can't you bear to hear the voice of truth for once? I don't ask you
to agree with me immediately; but I must say I did expect Mr. Hinchcliffe to
admit I was in the right. After all, he claims to be a radical and a freethinker.
SEVERAL VOICES (together): Freethinker, did he say? Is Hinchcliffe a
freethinker?
HINCHCLIFFE (shouting): Prove it, Dr. Gibson! When have I ever said so in
print?
DR. GIBSON (reflecting): No, dammit, youre right! Youve never had the
courage. Well, I won't drop you in a hole, Mr. Hinchcliffe. Lets just say that
Im the freethinker here and I can prove to you, scientifically, that the
"People's Messenger" is leading you by the nose and deceiving you
shamelessly when it tells you that the crowd, the masses even, are the real
heart and soul of the People. Thats just a newspaper slogan. The common
herd is simply the raw material from which a People is made. (Groans,
laughter and uproar.) Lets look at examples. Theres an enormous
difference between a well-bred and an ill-bred strain of animals. Look at your
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barnyard hen, for instance. What sort of a meal would you get off an old fowl
like that? Precious little! And the eggs are no better. A healthy crow can lay
pretty nearly as good an egg. Or take the case of dogs; mans best friend we
call them. Think first of a mongrel; one of these horrible, coarse-haired, lowbred dogs that do nothing but run about fouling the streets. Compare one of
these to a well-bred retriever or a Labrador, reared for generations in the
houses of our country gentlemen, given the best of food and healthy exercise.
Dont you think the Labradors brain is more highly developed than any
mongrel, as Charles Darwin argued? Of course it is. The future is not for the
underdogs and their over-numerous under-puppies. (Uproar and mocking
cries.)
SEVERAL VOICES (together): Are you calling us dogs, now? Were not
animals. Youre talking tripe.
DR. GIBSON: But thats the whole point; we are animals, my friend! True
human beings are the finest animals ever to have evolved but even among
men there are some who are exceptionally well-developed in terms of
intelligence. You agree with me about horses, for example?
A CITIZEN: If youre a betting man. (Laughter.)
DR. GIBSON: There you are. But, just as soon as I apply the principle to
two-legged animals, Mr. Hinchcliffe, gets up on his hind legs. He just wont
dare to think independently, or to take his ideas to their logical conclusion.
Instead, he turns the whole theory on its head and tells you that its barn-yard
fowls or mongrels that are the finest specimens. Im afraid hell not change
until he shakes off the ingrained habit of thinking that reflects his origins.
HINCHCLIFFE: Fellow-citizens, I lay no claim to any sort of distinction. I
do come from the working classes, the common five-eighths, but I am proud
of it. Im proud of the common people he now insults.
Cheers and bravos.
DR. GIBSON: Im not talking about class. The common people Im talking
about are at every level of the social scale and crawl and swarm around us
even at the top of the power pyramid. My own brother is every bit as much a
part of the common herd as ever walked on two shoes
Laughter and hisses.
PETER GIBSON: Mr. Chairman, I protest against personal allusions of this
kind.

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DR. GIBSON (unperturbed) not because he is, like me, descended from
some old shipwrecked survivor of the Spanish Armada because thats the
family legend
PETER GIBSON: Totally absurd. I deny it!
DR. GIBSON: but because he only thinks what his cronies think, and
clings to the same views as them. People who do that are, in my definition,
the common people; and, that is why my high-and-mighty brother is in reality
completely undistinguished and very far from being forward-thinking and
liberal-minded.
PETER GIBSON: Mr. Chairman!
HINCHCLIFFE: Youve lost all your marbles, Doctor. Only clever clogs
like you are forward-thinking, then?
DR. GIBSON: Youve got the point at last but, come on, take the line of
thought one step further. Forward-thinking and broad-mindedness is really a
synonym for morality. And thats why I tell you it is morally indefensible for
the Peoples Messenger to go on proclaiming the absurd doctrine that the
masses, the oh-so-solid majority, have some God-given monopoly on broadmindedness and morality and that all else is some kind of intellectual
depravity, just as you are denying that all the pollution draining into the Baths
comes from the tanneries up at Amberdale.
Uproar, but DR. GIBSON waves it aside and climbs onto his chair.
DR. GIBSON: Thats why the Messengers previous assertions that we
must cling to the old shibboleths are akin to preaching moral depravity. Well,
lets have none of it. Lets recognise and acknowledge the truth that it is
ignorance, poverty and poor living conditions that are doing the devils work.
One old saying we can all agree with is that a new broom sweeps clean my
wife proves it, day in day out but unless we use our brooms to sweep away
inherited prejudices and out-dated ideas, well lose the power of thinking or
acting in a moral manner. New ideas are as important to public health as good
food, clean water and sweet-smelling drains. And there seems to be a pitiful
lack of new ideas in this town when the solid majority seems to be willing to
let the towns prosperity be built on a quagmire of pollution, falsehood and
deceit.
ARMITAGE (ringing his bell): I cannot allow such a grave accusation to be
thrown in the face of this community.
PETER GIBSON: I move the Chairman directs the speaker to sit down.

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SEVERAL VOICES (chanting and stamping their feet): Sit down! Sit down!
Sit down!
DR. GIBSON (losing his composure): Then Ill shout the truth on every
street corner! Ill publish it in Ripon and Harrogate! The whole country will
find out whats going on in this town!
HINCHCLIFFE: Dr. Gibson plans to ruin his own home town!
DR. GIBSON: Yes, this town is so dear to me that Id rather see it ruined
than flourishing on a lie.
ARMITAGE: This is quite dreadful.
Uproar and cat-calls. MRS. GIBSON tugs at his coat but her husband will not
listen to her.
HINCHCLIFFE (shouting): Any man who would willingly ruin an entire
community can only be called an enemy of the people.
SEVERAL VOICES (echoing him): Enemy of the people! Enemy of the
people!
DR. GIBSON (wildly): What would the destruction of a single community
matter if it lives off immorality and decay? It deserves to be razed to the
ground and all who live in it put down like vermin. Its a simple matter of
Public Health. The plague could spread across the whole country like the flu
epidemic. And if that happened, then the only safe course of action would be
to let the country perish and all its people.
SEVERAL VOICES (together): Out of your mind! Rubbish! Thinks hes
Mussolini!
HINCHCLIFFE: The people have spoken, Doctor, by all they hold sacred.
SEVERAL VOICES (shouting): Enemy of the people! Out, out, out!
ARMITAGE rises, ringing his bell repeatedly. DR. GIBSON steps down off
his chair.
ARMITAGE: I have to say as Chairman, as a citizen and as an individual, I
am nearly speechless with shock at what we have just heard. Dr Gibson has
shown himself in a completely new and very unflattering light. Despite my
motto of moderation at all times, I am forced to agree with the sentiments I
hear expressed from every corner of the room. I feel it must be formally
expressed in a resolution. From the chair, therefore, I propose that this
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meeting declares Dr. Henry Gibson, Medical Officer of the Spa Baths, to be
an enemy of the people.
A storm of cheers, stamping and applause. The crowd surrounds the
DOCTOR and hiss at him. MRS. GIBSON, with her hands to her mouth, and
PETRA are outside this group. PETRA tries to lash out at the crowd with
her umbrella. CAPTAIN HOOPER restrains her.
DR. GIBSON (breaking free of those surrounding him): You fools! You
ignorant, blind, greedy fools.
ARMITAGE (ringing his bell): We shall not listen to another word. A vote
has been called. Out of what regard I have left for you, it will be taken by
secret ballot. Mr. Hinchcliffe, have you any paper?
HINCHCLIFFE: Ive got strips of blue and white. (Produces them from his
coat pocket.)
ARMITAGE: Let me have them; theyll do very nicely. Well pass them out
quickly. (Addressing the meeting.) White means you are for the motion,
blue means against. Take your slips from Mr. Hinchcliffe and me then Ill
come round myself and collect your votes.
While ARMITAGE and HINCHCLIFFE work quickly round the room, the
GIBSON brothers square up to each other for a moment before PETER
shakes his head and, picking his hat and stick from the table, he stalks out.
DR. GIBSON enfolds his wife and daughter in an embrace. A hubbub of
angry conversation continues throughout. MARTIN KYLE sidles up to DR.
GIBSON.
MARTIN KYLE: Dammit, Gibson, cant you see what these monkey tricks
of yours will lead to?
DR. GIBSON: My conscience is clear, father-in-law.
MARTIN KYLE: Fancy! And what was that you were saying about my
tannery?
DR. GIBSON: You heard well enough. Its the principal source of all the
pollution.
MARTIN KYLE: My tannery!
DR. GIBSON: Your tannery is by far and away the worst.
MARTIN KYLE: And that is what you wanted to put in the paper?
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DR. GIBSON: That; and much else besides.


MARTIN KYLE: This may cost you dear, Gibson. Think on. (Exits.)
WICKENS (going up to HOOPER without taking any notice of the ladies): It
seems, Captain Hooper, youre willing to lend your house to enemies of the
people.
HOOPER: Come, Mr. Wickens, its a free country. I can surely do what I
like with my own possessions.
WICKENS: Happen. Then you cant have any objection to my doing the
same with mine.
HOOPER: Meaning, Mr. Wickens?
WICKENS: Meaning youll hear from me in the morning. (Turns away.)
PETRA: Who was that, Captain Hooper?
HOOPER: That was Mr. Wickens, the shipowner.
ARMITAGE (now with the voting-papers in his hands, gets up on to the
platform and rings his bell): Gentlemen, ladies, allow me to announce the
result. By the vote of every one here who took a ballot slip, this meeting of
townspeople declares Dr. Henry Gibson to be an enemy of the people.
(Cheers and stamping of feet.) I call for three cheers for our ancient and
honourable community! (Applause and ragged cheers.) And three cheers for
our able and energetic Mayor! (More structured cheering.) This meeting is
now closed. (He steps down from the platform and he and HINCHCLIFFE
exit together.)
A CITIZEN: Three cheers for the Chairman!
MANY VOICES: Hip, Hip, Hooray!
The crowd disperses quickly. The GIBSONS and HOOPER are left on stage.
DR. GIBSON: Kate, Petra, we must go home but I have one question for you,
Captain. Do you have room on your ship for three passengers for the New
World?
HOOPER: For you and yours we can always make room, Doctor.
DR. GIBSON: Good; then its settled. Come, both of you. Many thanks,
Hooper. You were brave too.
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MRS. GIBSON (quietly): Harry dear; lets go out by the back way.
HINCHCLIFFE and ARMITAGE enter.
DR. GIBSON: No back ways for me, Kate. (To HINCHCLIFFE and
ARMITAGE.) Youll hear more of this enemy of the people before I shake the
dust of this unhealthy town off my shoes. Im not as forgiving as a certain
Person. I shall not be heard saying, Forgive them, for they know not what
they do.
ARMITAGE: That is blasphemy, Dr. Gibson!
The GIBSONS, escorted by HOOPER, begin to leave. There is the sound of a
window breaking and a stone rolls onto the stage. Offstage, the chant get up,
Enemy of the People! As the GIBSONS move off-stage, HINCHCLIFFE
and then ARMITAGE take up the chant then shake hands in mutual
congratulation. ARMITAGE tips the ballot papers out of his hat onto the
table and walks off stage, tipping his hat to PETER GIBSON who crosses to
HINCHCLIFFE, glances round and hands him a brown envelope.
HINCHCLIFFE also looks round carefully as he slips it into his inside pocket.
Black out and silence.
End of Act 4

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ACT V
SCENE DR. GIBSON'S study. The long leg of the L runs from upstage left
at a shallow angle across the back of the stage and the short leg now runs
directly downstage. There is a large table with three chairs, enclosed in the
L. It is littered with books and papers while on its front, downstage corner
sits a small cairn of stones. There is a small table mid-stage right. One
larger stone is under the table and DR GIBSON is raking for it with the
handle of a stout walking-stick. MRS GIBSON is arranging a vase of flowers
on the small table, out of his line of sight because of the L.
DR. GIBSON (calling out): Kate! Ive found another one. A two-pounder,
Id say.
MRS. GIBSON: Keep looking, Harry; youll find them all.
DR. GIBSON (adding the stone to the cairn): Ill preserve these gifts from
the masses and, one day, our grand-children will inherit them, as family
heirlooms. (He sits at the table then calls out again.) Has whats-her-name
been to chase-up the glazier?
MRS. GIBSON (coming into the study): Yes, but she has her doubts if hell
come today.
DR. GIBSON: Ill lay a small bet he wont dare to show. (Chants.) Enemy
of the People! Enemy of the People!
MRS. GIBSON: Thats what she said. She thinks hell be afraid of the
neighbours.
The MAID enters upstage right and comes to the corner of the L, the door
of the study, holding out an envelope. MRS GIBSON takes it and the MAID
exits.
MRS. GIBSON: A letter for you. (Hands it to him.)
DR. GIBSON (opens and reads it): Well this was entirely predictable.
MRS. GIBSON: Whos it from?
DR. GIBSON: Our beloved landlord. Its our notice to quit.
MRS. GIBSON: He seemed such a nice man too.
DR. GIBSON (reads from the letter): In the circumstances, public opinion
leaves me no choice dont personally like doing this but must respect
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the views of my fellow-citizens dont care to offend certain influential


people. Balderdash! (Screws it into a ball and tosses it onto the table.)
MRS. GIBSON: Please dont tell me you didnt foresee this.
DR. GIBSON: Yes, yes! Well enough. Amongst the whole pack of them,
there isnt one whos not a moral coward. The daft thing is each one is afraid
of everyone else. But that doesnt matter to us, my darling. We are off next
week to the New World. (Sings.) Oh, say can you see, by the dawns early
light, etc., etc.
MRS. GIBSON: Harry, how can you be so certain this is the right step?
DR. GIBSON: Are you seriously imagining we can go on living here? In this
town, where Im branded an enemy of the people, where most of our windows
have been broken and, as if that wasnt enough, theyve torn my Montague
Burton trousers. (Shows off the tear.)
MRS. GIBSON: Oh, Harry, and theyre your best pair!
DR. GIBSON: And the moral is never wear your best trousers when you set
out to fight for freedom. I dont mind about the trousers so much. After all,
youre bound to be able to mend them. Its more that these mindless morons
dared to attack me, as if I was someone down at their level. Thats harder to
stomach.
MRS. GIBSON: They did treat you very roughly, Harry, but is that enough to
have us cut and run, and leave our country for ever?
DR. GIBSON: Since the War, this country has never got back on an even
keel, socially. If we went somewhere else in England, wed find people just
as narrow-minded. The mongrels are everywhere. No, Kate, I blame party
politics. Instead of being independent-minded and thinking for themselves,
every man, and now every woman it seems, is just a slave of his Party. Id
better not be under any illusions that its so much better in the land of the
free, but at least theres so much land you have room to be your own man.
And, if it came to that, we could live in utter solitude in some unspoiled
forest; or a South Sea island, if there was one going cheap.
MRS. GIBSON: But what about Petra; and those grandchildren the stones are
for?
DR. GIBSON (coming to her): What a strange and wonderful woman you
are, Kate! Would you prefer to see her grow up in this place? You saw it
yourself last night. One half of the population are numbskulls and the other
half have no brains in their skulls to go numb.
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MRS. GIBSON: Harry, you do say some very imprudent and intolerant
things.
DR. GIBSON: Is anything I say untrue? Havent Armitage, Hinchcliffe and
my esteemed brother been standing reason on its head and saying that
everything Ive proved is just a lie? The most absurd thing of all is that these
are grown men, self-proclaimed liberals and leaders of public opinion. Its
totally bizarre.
They embrace. PETRA enters upstage right and comes into the study.
DR. GIBSON: Back from school already?
PETRA: No Ive been dismissed.
MRS. GIBSON: Dismissed?
DR. GIBSON: The sack? You too!
PETRA: Miss Cooper offered to let me work a months notice but I decided
to leave at once.
DR. GIBSON: And quite right, too!
MRS. GIBSON: Id never have thought Miss Cooper would do a thing like
that.
PETRA: She was dreadfully embarrassed, Mother, but she said she didnt
have any choice and had to show me the door, really.
DR. GIBSON: Typical! Just typical. Just like the landlord, just like the
others. What a flock of sheep.
MRS. GIBSON: But even considering the dreadful scenes last night, how
could she
PETRA: It wasnt just that. There was more.
DR. GIBSON: Oh, yes. What else?
PETRA: She showed me three of the awful letters shes received, popped
through her letter-box during the night.
DR. GIBSON: Anonymous, no doubt?
PETRA: How did you know?
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DR. GIBSON: Because people like that dont dare sign their names in case
the wind changes.
PETRA: One of them was saying that a man who had been a guest in our
house was telling people at the Toc H that my views on all kinds of things
were extremely emancipated.
DR. GIBSON: I hope you wont deny that.
PETRA: Of course I dont, and Miss Cooper herself has a very similar
outlook, when were just the two of us, but now that people are spreading
rumours about me, shes afraid the better class of children will be withdrawn,
the ones whose parents pay full fees.
MRS. GIBSON: Someone whos been a guest of ours! Thatll teach you to
keep open house, Harry!
DR. GIBSON: We shant stay a moment longer in this cess pit. Get packed
as quickly as you can, Kate, so we can leave as soon as we get word.
HOOPER has entered upstage right and is handing his hat to the MAID who
makes as if to announce him but PETRA, standing at the study door has seen
him.
PETRA: Oh its you, Captain Hooper. Do come in and join us.
HOOPER: If I may? Good morning Doctor, Mrs Gibson, Miss Gibson. I
thought Id just look in and see how things are this morning.
DR. GIBSON (grasping his hand): Thats very kind of you. Were well,
very well, all things considered.
MRS. GIBSON: And thank you for helping us to get through the crowd last
night.
PETRA: How on earth did you manage to get home yourself?
HOOPER: Oh, on my own I could stand up to them and, besides, theres
more bombast than bravery among folk like that.
DR. GIBSON: Cowards at heart, Id say. And look at this. Here are the
stones they threw at the windows. Look at them. Scarcely a decent
cobblestone amongst them. Nothing but gravel mostly, thrown to show
willing but frightened to hurt. They stood outside shouting and swearing for
half-an-hour but then it got too near closing time.

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HOOPER: Just as well for you then.


DR. GIBSON: Maybe so, but by heck, it makes me angry. I wouldnt like to
rely on any of them in a serious fight on a matter of principle. Theyd take to
their heels like a flock of sheep, along with the solid majority. That lack of
moral fibre is what really concerns me but why should I bother? After all,
Im an enemy of the people. They called me that, so thats what Ill be.
MRS. GIBSON: You never were. You never will be, Harry.
DR. GIBSON: Don't swear to it, Kate. They say names will never hurt me
but one of these poisonous names could just infect a mans soul and eat away
at his insides like an acid, and theres no Milk of Magnesia on earth to treat
that sort of corrosion.
PETRA: Pay no attention, Father. Laugh at them.
HOOPER: One day, theyll come round to your point of view, Doctor.
MRS. GIBSON: Of course they will.
DR. GIBSON: Perhaps but when its all too late, and then what good will it
do them? One day they may regret wallowing in their own pigsty and driving
their one protector into exile but well be gone. When do we sail, Captain
Hooper?
HOOPER: Im afraid thats what I really came to see you about.
Dr. Gibson. Is something wrong with your ship?
HOOPER: Nothing at all. Its just Im not going to sail in her.
PETRA: Oh, Captain Hooper! Dont tell me youve been dismissed too. Its
not true, is it?
HOOPER: (Smiling.) Im afraid it is.
PETRA embraces him and then they step apart, both slightly embarrassed.
DR. GIBSON: The disease is spreading. Im sorry youre a victim of the
battle for truth. I didnt expect that kind of thing.
HOOPER: Dont take it too much to heart. Business is booming in America.
They say 1929 will be a record year. Ill soon find another ship owner to hire
me.

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DR. GIBSON: Youd think a man like Wickens; wealthy, independent and
above all this sort of thing; wouldnt stoop to such petty behaviour. Its
shameful.
HOOPER: Hes quite a decent fellow, really, and as he told me this morning,
if it were only down to him, hed have kept me on, only
DR. GIBSON: only he didn't dare? It sounds like an echo, doesnt it,
Petra?
HOOPER: The trouble for him is hes Chairman of his constituency party.
DR. GIBSON: Then hes probably speaking the truth. The party sausage
machine knocks heads together, fatheads, and blockheads, all into the one
indistinguishable, pulpy mass.
MRS. GIBSON: Please calm down, Harry dear!
PETRA (to HOOPER): But if only you hadnt let us use that room in your
house, this wouldnt have happened. Its not fair!
HOOPER: I dont regret it, Miss Gibson.
PETRA (holding out her hand to him): Thank you for that!
HOOPER (to DR. GIBSON): I mustnt forget to say that, if you are really
determined to leave, I might have some other ideas.
DR. GIBSON: I want to go at once, so lets hear them.
PETER GIBSON has appeared upstage right with the MAID, declining to give
her his hat and stick, and is led to the door of the study area. MRS GIBSON
is the first to see him.
MRS. GIBSON: Peter.
PETRA: Uncle, we were just thinking about you.
DR. GIBSON: Mr. Mayor do come in. You bring good tidings, Im sure.
MRS. GIBSON (admonishing): Harry!
PETER GIBSON: You have company, Henry, in which case, I
DR. GIBSON: No. Do come in.

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PETER GIBSON: I would rather speak to you alone.


MRS. GIBSON: The rest of us will leave you in peace. Come along.
HOOPER: Ill look in later.
MRS GIBSON begins ushering PETRA and HOOPER out of the study and offstage up right.
DR. GIBSON (calling out): Do wait for me in the kitchen, Captain Hooper.
HOOPER: With pleasure. (He and the ladies exit.)
DR. GIBSON: As your medical adviser, I have to warn you about the effects
of the draughts in here. Do please put your hat back on.
PETER GIBSON: Thank you. I think I might have caught cold last night.
DR. GIBSON: Fancy! I must say I found it hot enough.
PETER GIBSON: Henry, Im sorry it was not in my power to curb some of
last nights excesses, including your own.
DR. GIBSON: Was there anything else you wanted to say, apart from that?
PETER GIBSON (bringing out an envelope): I have this for you, from the
Board of the Spa Baths Municipal Partnership.
DR. GIBSON: The sack?
PETER GIBSON: With effect from today. (He places it on the table, propped
against the cairn of stones.) It hurts us to do so but in order to retain the
confidence of the public at large we have no choice. We dare not retain your
services.
DR. GIBSON (grinning): Dare not? Now where have I heard that expression
before?
PETER GIBSON: I think you need to grasp your position without any
misunderstanding, Henry. From this moment you cannot expect any paying
patients or any public work in this borough.
DR. GIBSON: Just see if I care, Peter. But, in any case, how can you be so
sure?

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PETER GIBSON: Even as we speak, the much-respected Householders


Association is circulating a petition, street by street, calling on all rightthinking citizens to boycott you, and I rather doubt if many heads of families
will refuse to sign. The pressure on them will be irresistible.
DR. GIBSON: I can well imagine. And then what?
PETER GIBSON: Quite honestly, after last nights performance, I think
putting a little distance between this town and yourself would be advisable.
DR. GIBSON: Coincidentally, the benefits to be gained from a long sea
voyage had crossed my wind.
PETER GIBSON: Splendid. Find something to do, at least a hundred miles
from here and then, after six months or so lets say, and having given the
matter some thought, if you found your way to pen a few words, indicating
regret, acknowledging possible error, and so on
DR. GIBSON: Youd let me have my job back, is that it?
PETER GIBSON: Theres no guarantee, but its not impossible.
DR. GIBSON: But Peter, how on earth would you handle public feelings on
the issue? Surely you are a servant to the opinions of others?
PETER GIBSON: Public opinion can change and well have the elections out
of the way by then. But this is all conditional.
DR. GIBSON: Conditional?
PETER GIBSON: We must have some admission from you in writing.
DR. GIBSON: Thats what you want, is it? And youd be able to forget some
of the things I said in public about political games like that?
PETER GIBSON: You spoke in error, and under the mistaken impression
you had the backing of the whole town.
DR. GIBSON: And now I feel that the whole town is on my back but I tell
you, I shall not retract a word, no matter if you get down off my back and
onto your knees.
PETER GIBSON: Merciful heavens, Henry, a man with family
responsibilities simply cant behave like that. You havent the right.

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DR. GIBSON: No right? Theres only one thing a free man should never do;
has no right to do.
PETER GIBSON: Enlighten me.
DR. GIBSON: Ill tell you, Mr. Mayor. A free man, a man of honour, cannot
dabble in party political filth, or the world will simply spit in his face.
PETER GIBSON: Come off your high horse before you fall off. Pompous
platitudes might wash with someone who doesnt know your family
circumstances and expectations.
DR. GIBSON: And just what is that supposed to mean?
PETER GIBSON: You know perfectly well what Im talking about; but as
your own brother and as a man of some real experience, I counsel you not to
build too much of your future plans on these expectations. Nothing is ever
certain until after it has actually happened.
DR. GIBSON: Youre talking riddles.
PETER GIBSON: Are you standing there telling me that youre unaware of
the terms of your father-in-laws will?
DR. GIBSON: The Silver Fox? What ever he possesses is destined to go to a
cat-and-dog home his late wife was fond of. How can that concern me?
PETER GIBSON: In the first place, what he possesses is by no means a
modest sum. You must realise that Martin Kyle is a wealthy man.
DR. GIBSON: I had no such idea! He gives no outward sign of it.
PETER GIBSON: I wonder; I really wonder. And youll be telling me next
you were blissfully unaware that the bulk of his estate will actually go to your
daughter while your wife will have a life rent of the capital. Dont tell me
hes never discussed it.
DR. GIBSON: Weve scarcely exchanged two words. Ive been away for
years and he only calls in here to see Kate. He and Petra are close, I grant you
but, look here; can you be certain of this?
PETER GIBSON: I have it from an unimpeachable source.
DR. GIBSON: Then, praise the Lord! Kate and Petra are provided for, and
the rest of the world can go hang! (Goes to his study door and calls out.)
Kate! Kate!
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PETER GIBSON (flustered): Henry, not a word to her, yet.


MRS. GIBSON (hurrying to the study door): What is it now?
DR, GIBSON (looking round at his brother with deep suspicion): Sorry,
nothing, nothing; I didnt call. (She gives him a look and bustles off stage
again. DR. GIBSON goes up to his brother.) Provided for, you said.
Imagine what a burden that lifts off a mans shoulders. Provided for! Its like
manna from heaven.
PETER GIBSON: But you havent got a penny yet and Martin Kyle can
rewrite his will any time he likes.
DR. GIBSON: Why on earth should he do that? Let me tell you the Silver
Fox was only too delighted when he first heard about my report and my attack
on you and your cronies.
PETER GIBSON (realisation suddenly dawning): So thats it! This throws a
completely different light on everything. What a devious and disgraceful
scheme. And youre my own brother.
DR. GIBSON: Are you mad; as well as stupid?
PETER GIBSON: Of course; of course. I see the whole thing now! The pair
of you have been acting in collusion. First of all you make these wild attacks
on the Council and the leading citizens, under the guise of a report about the
Spa Baths.
DR. GIBSON: I did what?
PETER GIBSON: But it was simply a smoke-screen, and the price he
demanded from you for a place in that vindictive mans will. You know we
had to throw him off the Council.
DR. GIBSON (almost speechless): You disgusting humbug! Ive never
known such a cheapskate as you in all my life. You cretin! You crook!
PETER GIBSON (triumphant): You can say what you like now. Weve got
the goods on you. Why else has Kyle been buying up shares and bonds at
knock-down prices? Well, your dismissal is final and irrevocable now; and
you can clear out of this town forever. (He storms out of the study in high
dudgeon and exits upstage right with DR. GIBSON looking after him.)
DR. GIBSON (calling after him): Idiot! Imbecile! Kate! Have the floors
scrubbed. Wipe anything hes touched with Dettol.
MRS GIBSON rushes in from upstage right.
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MRS. GIBSON: Harry, Harry, for pitys sake calm down.


PETRA (entering upstage right and calling): Father, grandpas here, asking
if he may speak to you.
DR. GIBSON: Of course he may. (Going to his study door as MARTIN
KYLE enters behind PETRA.) Come in, father-in-law. (MARTIN KYLE
comes into the study as the ladies exit.) Wont you take a seat, sir?
MARTIN KYLE: Id rather stand. (Looks around.) You look very
comfortable here today, and I dont think!
DR. GIBSON: You see how it is, Im afraid.
MARTIN KYLE: Plenty of fresh air though. Id say youd got your ration of
that oxygen youre always on about. And I suppose your conscience is in the
pink after all the exercise youve given it.
DR. GIBSON: Ill say!
MARTIN KYLE: Happen. (Draws a foolscap folder from inside his coat.)
Do you know what these are?
DR. GIBSON (shrugs): It could be the Peoples Messenger for all I know.
MARTIN KYLE: Summat with a bit more meat than that rag. (He puts the
folder on the table and draws out its contents,)
DR. GIBSON (looking at them in astonishment): But these are bonds and
share certificates in the Baths.
MARTIN KYLE: They were going even cheaper today, I can tell you.
DR. GIBSON: Youve been buying them? Then its true?
MARTIN KYLE: Ive bought everything I could pay for. Cash on the nail.
DR. GIBSON: But, father-in-law; you know; Ive been telling you what an
abysmal state the Baths affairs are in. Why have you done this? In Gods
name, why?
MARTIN KYLE: Why? Dont be daft. If you act reasonable and we move
quick, we can set the Baths on their feet again before the seasons first
charabanc gets here from Leeds.

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DR. GIBSON: Well, I wanted the Board to take remedial action but that
might take a couple of years. I recommended the necessary steps but theyve
all gone mad and wont even look at it. It just isnt going to happen, Im
afraid.
MARTIN KYLE: Now you just listen to me for once. Youve been saying
that my tannerys where all your troubles are coming from but if that were
true then my father, my grandfather and me would have killed off the whole
town long since. Am I supposed to sit back and accept that nonsense? Think
on.
DR. GIBSON: Whatever you call it, Mr. Kyle, youll have to accept it.
MARTIN KYLE: Happen not. Im proud of my name and my family
reputation, and Ive always kept them clean and polished. I mean to live and
die a clean man.
DR. GIBSON: Just precisely how do you aim to manage that?
MARTIN KYLE: Youre going to do it for me, Gibson.
DR. GIBSON: Me! How?
MARTIN KYLE: Have you the least idea where I got the money for all these
shares Ive bought? Of course you dont, Ive never told you, but Ill tell you
now. Its my life savings and every penny of it will come to my daughter and
granddaughter just as soon as I pop my clogs.
DR, GIBSON (flaring up): You mean to say youve spent all Kates
inheritance buying worthless shares in the Baths?
MARTIN KYLE: I havent a halfpenny of liquid cash left and just you think
about this if you can still think. If you go on spouting all this rubbish about
the nasty little animals coming out of my tannery, then youll be pissing away
your own wifes inheritance. No decent man would do that to a woman
unless he was completely mad.
DR. GIBSON: If I wasnt mad already, I am now!
MARTIN KYLE: Youre not going to be so mad as to put the future of your
wife and child at risk, are you, eh?
DR. GIBSON: Why in the name of God didnt you talk to me about all this
before rushing out and squandering a fortune?
MARTIN KYLE: Im my own man, Gibson. And its done now.
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DR. GIBSON: If only it werent such an open and shut case, whichever way
you look at it. Im absolutely in the right. Its beyond argument.
MARTIN KYLE (picking up the certificate): If you stick to that line then
these certainly wont be worth a tuppenny toss. (Puts the certificates back in
the folder and holds it.)
DR. GIBSON: Father-in-law all Im talking about is the source of the
pollution. Who knows if another scientist might not develop a treatment,
some preventative, or an antidote perhaps?
MARTIN KYLE: To kill off the little animals, are you saying?
DR. GIBSON: Yes, or render them harmless without just creating another
problem, of course.
MARTIN KYLE: Wouldnt rat poison do the trick?
DR. GIBSON: Please! Lets be serious at least. In any case, my brother and
his cronies are already saying the problem only exists in my imagination, so
why dont you let these ignorant and greedy schemers have their way. To
them, Im an enemy of the people, and the townspeople seem ready to tear the
clothes off my back.
MARTIN KYLE: And break your windows!
DR. GIBSON: As for my duty to my family, I need to talk that over with
Kate. Shes my sheet-anchor in these matters.
MARTIN KYLE: Sound thinking, for once. Take the advice of a sensible
woman.
DR. GIBSON: Oh, Kyle! How could you do such a dreadful, such a wicked
thing? Risking Kates security and thrusting me into such a painful dilemma.
It isnt just wicked; its obscene.
MARTIN KYLE: I think Id better go before I hear something you might
regret. But mark this, Gibson; its time to make your mind up, yes or no. If I
havent got a yes from you by tonight then Ill give all this to the cat-and-dog
home.
DR. GIBSON: Then what would Kate get?
MARTIN KYLE: Damn all, Gibson; damn all.

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HINCHCLIFFE and ARMITAGE enter upstage right, out of sight of the study.
They sign to the MAID that they will announce themselves and appear round
the L as DR. GIBSON and KYLE glare silently at each other.
MARTIN KYLE: Now what brings these two here, I wonder?
DR. GIBSON (glaring at them): You astonish me. You have the bare-faced
cheek to come into my house.
HINCHCLIFFE: Thats right.
ARMITAGE: We need to speak to you. Its important.
MARTIN KYLE: Tonight, Gibson. Ill see myself out.
He exits briskly upstage right. While DR. GIBSON stares after him,
nonplussed, HINCHCLIFFE nudges ARMITAGE and whispers something,
indicating KYLE with his thumb.
DR. GIBSON: You can have two minutes. Make it snappy.
HINCHCLIFFE: Now Doctor, I can understand you might be a little annoyed
by our public attitude towards you at last nights meeting.
DR. GIBSON: Annoyed? Attitude you call it. I call it shallow, shameful
prejudice.
HINCHCLIFFE: You can call it what you like. We had little choice in the
matter, as it happens.
DR. GIBSON: You mean you didnt dare do otherwise. Isnt that more like
the case?
HINCHCLIFFE: You can put it that way if you wish.
ARMITAGE: But Doctor, why couldnt you have tipped us off before the
meeting? Just a word in my ear would have been enough.
DR. GIBSON: Tipped you off about what?
ARMITAGE: About what was behind it all the master plan!
DR. GIBSON: You have simply no idea what youre talking about.
ARMITAGE (with a confidential nod): Oh yes, I think we do.

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HINCHCLIFFE: I mean theres no mystery about it now.


DR. GIBSON (looking from one to the other): Just what the devil are you
driving at?
ARMITAGE: Is it, or is it not true that Martin Kyle, your own father-in-law,
is going round buying up all the shares in the Baths that he can lay his hands
on?
DR. GIBSON: Yes thats true, actually. He has been buying shares today,
but
ARMITAGE: Wouldnt it have been more politic to have got someone else,
less closely related to you, to have handled that part of it?
HINCHCLIFFE: Then your name would have been kept out of the affair.
That would have been better, tactically speaking. Even the attack on the
Baths neednt have come directly from you. If only youd taken me into your
confidence, Dr. Gibson.
DR. GIBSON (incredulous): Can I believe what Im hearing? Are you
saying what I think youre saying? Are such things possible?
ARMITAGE (smiling): Of course they are. But a little discretion,
moderation, some finesse would have helped.
HINCHCLIFFE: Its always better for these things to be a team effort when
the goal is so important. The worrys less, and sos the responsibility for each
person involved.
DR. GIBSON (calmly): I feel youre about to make a proposal. What is it?
ARMITAGE: Perhaps Mr. Hinchcliffe should
HINCHCLIFFE: No, better you, Armitage.
ARMITAGE: Well, lets put it positively now we have a measure of the
plan, we might see our way to back you through the columns of the Peoples
Messenger.
DR. GIBSON: Your bravery astonishes me. But what will you do about
public opinion? The thing about lightning conductors is they generally get
struck by lightning.
HINCHCLIFFE: Then we must just try to weather the storm.

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ARMITAGE: And you must prepare your own line of attack, just as soon as
your pointed criticisms have had their intended effect
DR. GIBSON: Aha! You mean the moment my father-in-law and I have
mopped up all the shares at bargain basement prices?
HINCHCLIFFE: Meanwhile, we shall be taking the line that your interest in
seeking control of the Spa Baths is primarily scientific. Thats the case, isnt
it?
DR. GIBSON: Shrewd! Youve got it in one. And it was for similarly
scientific reasons I got the old Silver Fox to act on my behalf. Well, I might
as well tell you, the plan will be to dig up a bit of the lake shore and a few
yards of the conduit pipe near the tanneries but it wont cost the town a brass
farthing. Thatll satisfy public opinion, surely?
HINCHCLIFFE: I should say so assuming you do have the Peoples
Messenger behind you.
DR. GIBSON: Did you say assuming?
ARMITAGE: The popular press can be a powerful voice, for or against, in
any community affairs, Doctor.
DR. GIBSON: Quite so, but we mustnt forget public opinion. Will you be
able to answer for the views of the Chamber of Commerce and the
Householders Association?
ARMITAGE: Indubitably; and, for that matter, the Temperance Society.
DR. GIBSON: But, dear friends, Im overwhelmed. Im almost embarrassed
to ask, but what might I then be expected to do for you?
HINCHCLIFFE: Well, naturally one would like to act out of simple altruism
but the fact of the matter is the Peoples Messenger is a bit rocky at the
moment, scarcely keeping its head above water and it would be a crying
shame to have to suspend publication at such a crucial time when theres so
much to do if the Council is to fall into the right hands at the elections.
DR. GIBSON: I can see that and it would be a blow for such friends of the
people such as you two. But youre forgetting something, surely. Im an
officially declared enemy of the people. So, where the deuce did I put my
stick. (He makes an ostentatious search on the table.)
HINCHCLIFFE: Now, hold on!

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ARMITAGE: Surely you never mean Doctor! Moderation!


DR. GIBSON (pausing in his search): Just imagine, for discussion, I wasnt
to give you a halfpenny. Money tends to be hardest to chisel out of the rich;
or didnt you know?
HINCHCLIFFE: Just imagine then for discussion that there could be
more than one way of interpreting the facts.
DR. GIBSON: And I can see youre just the man to master such skills. The
dilemma seems to be that if I dont ride to the rescue of the Peoples
Messenger like Rothermere, youll turn and ride me down with your
columns, and Armitage here will ride at the head of the columns of the
Householders Association to run me out of town.
HINCHCLIFFE: Its a cruel world, Dr. Gibson. All dogs get to eat these
days is other dogs.
ARMITAGE: And we all have to protect our own futures, as best we can,
with the tools at our disposal.
DR. GIBSON: Then you two can look for yours in the gutter. Ill just show
you which of us has true strength of purpose. Ah, heres my stick.
HINCHCLIFFE: You dont intend to resort to violence?
ARMITAGE: Have a care, Doctor! Have a care!
DR. GIBSON: Im going to throw you both out of that broken window. (He
points downstage.) You first, Hinchcliffe.
HINCHCLIFFE (edging with ARMITAGE towards the door but DR GIBSON
cuts off their retreat): Steady on. Dont be daft, now.
DR. GIBSON: Jump before youre pushed, for the first time in your life,
Armitage. I wont let you out the door.
DR. GIBSON chases the other two round the front of the table but they get
past the window.
ARMITAGE: Doctor Im not in perfect health. Youll cause me a stroke.
(Calls out.) Help! Help!
HINCHCLIFFE: Help!

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MRS. GIBSON, PETRA and HOOPER come running and the two men stand
in front of them at the corner of the L. HOOPER pulls HINCHCLIFFE
behind him where he cowers.
MRS. GIBSON: Harry, oh Harry! What are you doing?
DR. GIBSON (advancing on HOOPER): Im throwing these two out of the
window.
HINCHCLIFFE: An unprovoked assault. Youre my witness, Captain
Hooper. (He steps back a couple of paces when DR. GIBSON raises his stick.
ARMITAGE is now sandwiched between PETRA and MRS. GIBSON.)
ARMITAGE: Let me out of here. (He elbows his way past the two women
and, with HINCHCLIFFE runs off, exiting upstage right.)
MRS. GIBSON (holding her husband back as he tries to follow them): Harry,
control yourself. For shame!
DR. GIBSON (throwing down his stick): Well, theyve made good their
escape now.
MRS. GIBSON: What did they want, Harry?
DR. GIBSON: Ill tell you later but now theres something else I have to do.
By God, I have to do this. (He sits at the table, picks up a sheet of paper and
pulls out his fountain pen. He writes quickly.) What does this say, Kate?
MRS. GIBSON: No. No. No. What does that mean?
DR. GIBSON: It means No; but Ill explain that later too. Petra, get the maid
to run over to the Silver Foxs lair with this, just as fast as she can. Hurry!
(PETRA takes the note and hurries off stage up right.) It seems to me,
Captain Hooper, Ive had a visit from every one of the devils disciples today
but in order to keep them at bay I must sharpen my pen, dip it in garlic, and
stab them without mercy. Thatll keep me busy.
MRS. GIBSON: Not more articles, Harry, and, besides, were going away.
Were almost completely packed.
PETRA comes back and CAPTAIN HOOPER puts his arm round her.
DR. GIBSON: Well?
PETRA: Shes taking it round.

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DR. GIBSON: Splendid. (Turning to MRS. GIBSON.) Going away? Not


any more. Im damned if Ill give these hypocrites that satisfaction. Were
going to stand and fight, Kate.
PETRA: Stay here?
MRS. GIBSON: Here, Harry? In this town?
DR. GIBSON: Where else, Kate? Heres where the front line is. Heres
where the battle has to be fought. Heres where, in the end, we are going to
triumph. Just as soon as youve mended the tear in my trousers, Ill go and
find us somewhere to live.
HOOPER: No need to look. Have my house.
DR. GIBSON: Can we?
HOOPER: Of course, theres plenty of room and when I get a ship again Ill
scarcely be there myself.
MRS. GIBSON: That is so kind, Captain Hooper!
PETRA: Thank you! (She kisses him on the cheek and he puts his hand to
the spot.)
DR. GIBSON: (Grasping his hand.) Thank you, thank you, young man!
Well thats our first problem solved. Now; on to the next. Theres almost too
much to do, and all at once; but never mind; Ill have plenty time now. Ive
been dismissed from the Baths.
MRS. GIBSON (sighing): We rather thought that was Peters errand.
DR. GIBSON: And theres a petition going the rounds to take my practice
away. Ill only be left with those that cant afford to pay me, but if they come
at all theyll have to listen to me and Ill preach at them non-stop and get them
to spread the message.
MRS. GIBSON: Harry! Everywhere weve been youve tried preaching, and
where has it got you?
DR. GIBSON: But now I have a new message, Kate. I am not going to be
cowed or driven out by the force of so-called public opinion, or the views of
the solid majority and all that tomfoolery. I have a simple and straightforward
message its party machines and rigid party programmes that are the real
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opposition to independent thought thats dragging us all down. Surely,


Captain Hooper, I can make the people understand?
HOOPER: Im sure you can, Doctor, though I dont know a great deal about
such things, Im afraid.
DR. GIBSON: Then youll be my fist convert; my first recruit. Its simple;
party politicians are like a pack of wolves, hungry wolves and each needs its
own pack of supporters, howling and snapping like they did at the meeting.
And each pack needs its flock of sheep to prey on. Take Hinchcliffe and
Armitage. Even they need lambs to be slaughtered, or at least cowed into
submission until all theyre good for is to be party hacks, humble
householders or sheepish subscribers to the Peoples Messenger. (Sits on
the front corner of the table.) Come over here Kate, and look out through the
broken window. See how the sun shines. Smell the lovely spring air. (She
joins him.)
MRS. GIBSON: But we cant live on sun and wind, Harry.
DR. GIBSON: Youll manage somehow, Kate. You always have done and
weve been in worse positions. And Ive a lifetime of work to tackle now so
much, I wonder who I can recruit to come after me.
PETRA: Don't think like that, father. Youve all the time in the world and
youve got me.
DR. GIBSON: And youre a teacher! I have it. Well start a school. Well
educate those children whose parents cant pay grammar school fees and well
make them so clever theyll none of them want to go and work in the
tanneries. You must help me in this, Petra.
PETRA: With all my heart, father. How soon can we start?
DR. GIBSON: We have our schoolroom the very room where they branded
me an enemy of the people but we need a good dozen boys, and girls, to get
started.
MRS. GIBSON: Where will you get them in this town?
DR. GIBSON: Well find them. Petra and I know all the street urchins, the
working mens children, the abandoned waifs at the orphanage.
PETRA: We can easily get a couple of dozen.

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DR. GIBSON: Capital, Petra! Round them up. There must be the spark of
independence in many of them that just needs you and me to fan into a
revolutionary blaze. Truths the fuel and its free!
MRS. GIBSON: And what are they going to do, when youve made
independent thinkers of them?
DR. GIBSON: Then they will drive the wolves out of the country and lead
the sheep to pastures new.
MRS. GIBSON: Lets hope the wolves dont drive out all the sheep, and us
with them.
DR. GIBSON: How can that possibly be, Kate? How can they drive me out
when its clear Im the strongest man in this town?
MRS. GIBSON: The strongest? Oh, Harry!
DR. GIBSON: Yes, Kate, and Ill even say the strongest man in the whole
wide world.
PETRA/ MRS. GIBSON/ CAPTAIN HOOPER (together): Hoorah for
father! Harry, youre mad! Doctor, be serious.
DR. GIBSON (raising his hand for silence): Dont say a word! But the
enemy of the people has made a great discovery.
MRS. GIBSON: Another discovery?
DR. GIBSON: Oh yes. A momentous discovery. (He climbs onto a chair
and the others gather round him.) The strongest man in the world is he who
stands alone!!
CAPTAIN HOOPER: (Clapping his hands.) Bravo, Bravo!
MRS. GIBSON (overlapping, smiling and shaking her head): Oh, Harry,
Harry!
PETRA (hugging her fathers knees): Father! Dear father!
Curtain.
End

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