William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act II, Scene ii


JES: Good day, good doctor. Have you word of Paul?

YUEH: Thy son grew tired, Jessica, and I
Did send him to the other room to rest.
God’s teeth, my Lady! I crave pardon for
My most uncouth familiarity!
My thoughts walked far apace

JES:                                                     Good Wellington,

YUEH: To use your name in such a fashion. I—

JES: Six years we’ve known each other: long since time
In private for formalities to rest.

YUEH: When I do pity thee, I think thy name
And not thy title, rude though I may be.

JES: Pity me? Why dost thou, Wellington?

YUEH: This place, so barren after Caladan
The women wailing underneath their veils,
And how they looked at us—

JES:                                         We must seem strange
Sin’ they have known only th’Harkonnen lash.
What didst thou see from out that window, then?

YUEH: The people, how they watch those twenty trees
That stand within our courtyard. Canst thou guess
What thoughts they bear within their desert brains?

JES: Art thou then a reader of their minds?

YUEH: Of those, oh, aye: they see that score of trees
And think “There stand a hundred souls of ours.”

JES: But why?

YUEH:            Those are date palms, and bearing fruit
Do twoscore liters water full demand
Each day. A man requires but eight to live.
And so for every tree so dear maintained
Five men might live, and they do know it well.

JES: But some of them look on those trees in hope.

YUEH: They do but hope some dates may fall. But nay:
‘Tis not the season yet for such a hope.

JES: But hope is here as well as durance vile
And danger. We could reap the wealth of spice
And make of this globe whatsoe’er we wished.
But safety’s not for sale in any coin.

YUEH (aside) Why could Atreides not be like their foes,
And ease betrayal’s curse with vengeful thoughts?

JES: Fear not for us: the problem’s ours to bear.
Would it disturb my son if I looked in?

YUEH: With such drugs as I gave, he will not wake.

JES: He takes it well, this change?

YUEH:                                                His youthful blood
Doth make him giddy, as ‘twould any youth.

JES: The sky is dark, e’en though it is broad day

YUEH: The lack of moisture darkeneth the heavens

JES: Is all Arrakis water-mad, like one
Who thinks of naught but what he cannot have?

YUEH: The planet’s rocks cry forth that mystery
But guard the answer jealously enough.

JES: Where hath it gone? There’s energy enough
To drive the seas: volcanoes, polar ice.
And just outside: when men dig wells, they give
The merest hint of water, then go dry
Forever. Yet the next dug does the like.
And none ask whence it comes or whither goes.

YUEH: Some gremlin of the desert, you suspect?

JES: Harkonnen’s House hid many things away.

YUEH: We are indeed behind Harkonnen’s veil.

JES: Harkonnen! E’en my duke spits not that name
With venom like to thee. I did not know
Thou bore such hatred of them in thy breast
To infect the air that passeth through thy teeth.

YUEH (aside): Great Mother, I am fortune’s fool to chance
Discovery by careless show of hate!
Now I must use my Wanna’s every trick
And tell the truth so far as I may dare
Lest Bene Gesserit ear and sense of truth
May prove both my salvation and my doom.
(to JES) You did not know my wife, my Wanna’s pain—

JES: Forgive me that I probed thy hidden wounds.
(aside) A Bene Gesserit was she, or I
Myself am none. Harkonnen surely killed
His love and left the doctor bound to us
Within a cherem of revenge on him.
(to YUEH) I do repent that we did bring thee here.

YUEH: I came upon mine own free conscience, lady.

JES: This world entire’s a great Harkonnen trap.

YUEH: No ill-thought snare shall trap the Duke, I’ll stake
My life and honor on it (aside) True, alas!

JES: How easy though, to kill th’uprooted plant.
In such a barren soil, devoid of rain.
They rioted to hear that we were come
To drink their water, and grew calm again
Not ‘til they heard we’d windtraps to trick out
More moisture from Arrakis’ thirsty air
And so not trouble them.

YUEH:                                    The very poor
Will die if water’s price is raised a jot.
They fear, but will not always hate us thus.

JES: We lived not so on Caladan, with shield-
Blurred guards to haunt our streets like sellsword ghosts.
The smell of death doth trail them. Hawat sent
Battalions of them. And where Hawat goes
Deceit and murder follow in his wake.

YUEH: You do malign him lady.

JES:                                                     Nay, t’was praise.
Deceit and death be our twin guerdons here.
But I will not deceive myself i’th’bargain

YUEH: You should not give such place to idle thoughts.

JES: To idle thoughts, thou sayest? Am I not
His secretary, and his woman, too?
Each day I learn another thing to fear
And wonder if that figured not among
The reasons he did choose me for his own:
A secretary bound to one by love
Is safer far than one paid with mere coin.

YUEH: Unworthy is that thought, my lady.

JES:                                                                 Aye.
Until Harkonnen dies, or kills my Duke
The tides of blood will not abate. He’ll not
Forget that Leto’s bloodline doubly shames
His own, whose so proud titles were but bought
With sweat and blood poured down this arid hole,
While Leto royal cousin is and more:
Atreides once Harkonnen banished
For cowardice upon the field of war
At that great battle, Corrin, whence our lord
Th’Imperial Padishah, Shaddam IV
Did take his name ancestral. Such a shame
Harkonnen must see blotted out, that he
May thus forget his weakness.

YUEH:                                                The old feud.
May I intrude to ask a thing of thee?

JES: Of course, thou art my friend.

YUEH:                                                Why hast thou not
Compelled the Duke to take thee as his wife?

JES: Compelled him to…?

YUEH:                                    It was uncouth to ask.

JES: So long as he remains unmarried
Great Houses may alliance hope to get
And true Atreides sons. If I did make
Him do this thing, I’d weaken him I love.

YUEH: It is a thing my Wanna might have said
(Aside) How can I steel myself her to betray
One like my wife, but yet untorn and whole?
Shall I confess my role and save her now?
But leave mine own wife yet unransomed?

JES: The Duke is right, and in this wings the rooms
Are more like to our tastes. I must assign
Them now. Pray pardon me.

YUEH:                                    Of you good will.

Exit YUEH.

JES: All the time we talk’d he would have spoke
But held his peace. Should I go after him?
T’was like enow he stop’d his mouth to spare
Mine own sad heart. T’would be poor recompense
To shame him thus. I’ll leave him to his mind.
In such good friends my own peace I shall find.