William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act II, Scene ix

Act II, Scene ix

The Arrakeen landing field
Enter Dr. KYNES with FREMEN

KYNES: Now dawns the morning of my barren world
That brings as little joy to me as did
Atreides proud and arrogant command
That I should yield the half my nightly rest
To endure the questions of their Mentat slave
And to be beaten roundabout my ears
As if I were a donkey, not to be
By any other suasion made to learn
The arts of protocol around their Duke.
Their Duke! Who thinks to wrap himself in shields
Shall find Arrakis hath for him a knife
Unseen but sharp and deadly natheless.
But soon enough they’ll learn whose master here
Upon Arrakis, and this Idaho
They’ve sent to spy out bases in the sand,
I’ll have his head by Stilgar sent anon
To show this Duke his footing on our sands.


KYNES: Is this his son? Whom they call Mahdi and
Lisan al-Gaib, the voice from out the world?
They are but people, though the boy doth seem
To wear our desert clothes as one of us.
My Lord the Duke. (

LETO:                        You’re the ecologist.

KYNES: The planetologist, it please my lord.
We use the older style for preference.

LETO: An’ as it please you. Son, this is the Judge
Of Change, the arbiter of our dispute
With old Harkonnen, sent to see the forms
Obeyed as we assume this world our fief.
This is my son.

KYNES:             My lord

PAUL:                                Are you a Fremen?

KYNES: The village and the sietch are both my home
But I as planetologist do serve
His Majesty Imperial in this.

LETO: We thank you for the stillsuits and these cloaks
Without the which you said we could not cross
The desert led by you, and do express
Our most profound concern at this. See now
The ornithopters overhead that bear
Our arms for this brief space we travel thus
Besides the which we’ve water of our own.
No likely foe could force us from the sky.

KYNES: Upon Arrakis, “likely” answers not
One speaks of “possibilities” and guards
Against them if one wishes to live on.

GURN: Address the Duke respectfully, thou churl.

LETO: Go softly, Gurney. Here our ways are new.

GURN: My lord.

LETO:                  We mark your kindness, and your care
Of us.

PAUL:  ‘The gift is blessing of the giver.”

FREMEN: Lisan al-Gaib!

KYNES:                              Go to!

LETO:                                              Most interesting.

KYNES (aside): “With holy words thy coming they shall greet
Thy gifts shall be a blessing when you meet.”

GURN: Should we not go?

LETO: My ‘thopter I shall fly.
Good Kynes, do sit with me, direct my course.
Thou, Gurney, shalt with Paul the hind seats take.

KYNES: A moment, Sire, for I must ascertain
How well the stillsuits fit, an’ you allow’t

LETO: We do commend ourselves to you in this
And would be taught of one to whom these suits
Are like a second skin. How work they, then?

KYNES: A filter and a heat-exchange in one
Small package is a stillsuit, save your grace.
The perspiration, having cooled the flesh
Doth pass the porous inner layer and
Is purged of salt, which likewise is reclaimed.
The body’s motion circulates the flow
Into the suit catchpockets, whence it can
Be drawn back to the body through this tube.
And as the loins do pass the draught and piss
So too these thigh pads process them into
The purest water. In the open sand
Ye wear this filter mask across the face
And nostril plugs tight fitted, and the end
Is with a Fremen suit in good repair
You’ll lose no more of moisture than would fill
A thimble, be you so unfortunate
To be in the Great Erg a castaway.

LETO: A thimbleful a day! You have my thanks.

KYNES: Let’s have a look at thee my lad. What’s this?
Then thou hast worn a stillsuit long ere this!

PAUL: Nay, never.

KYNES:                    Then someone hath fitted thee?

PAUL: Nay, sir.

KYNES:               Thy desert boots are fitted slip
At ankle, who hath told thee so to do?

PAUL: It seemed to me the proper way to go.

KYNES: And so it is. Offworlders seldom see.
(aside) And he shall know thy ways as born to them!

LETO: We waste the light.

(they board the ornithopter)

GURN:                                   Secure! We’re up and gone.

KYNES: Southeast beyond the Shield Wall, I told
Thy sandmaster to place his factories.

LETO: These stillsuits show the cunning of their folk.

KYNES: A factory in sietch I may show thee.

LETO: When you report unto the Emperor
Wilt say that we observed the forms o’th’change?

KYNES: Harkonnen left, Atreides followed on.

LETO: And followed all the laws, as they be writ?

KYNES: As planetologist and Judge of Change
I am no subject of Atreides’ fief
But of the Emperor direct, my Lord.

LETO: The Emperor directs but from afar
Atreides’ claw is here, as both we know.

KYNES: His Majesty supports my work, O Duke.

LETO: Indeed, what work is that he doth support?

KYNES: As planetologist, you mean, of course.

LETO: Of course. What else could I insinuate?

KYNES: The flora and the fauna of this world
I study, and the rocks and sands of Dune
Are world enough and time for me to know.

LETO: And do you study also of the spice?

KYNES: A question curious to ask, my lord.

LETO: Atreides came, Harkonnen left, and hawk
Is not the bull to trample underfoot
The things it careth not to comprehend.
But share thy findings and thou hast my leave
To study all of spice Harkonnen’s brute
And loathsome ignorance did once forbid.
They did forbid it? You may answer plain
And have no fear that truth shall risk thy life.

KYNES: His Majesty indeed is far removed.

LETO: I hear the acid in thy tone, good sir.
Atreides and its soldiery have come
Demanding thou shouldst instantly foreknow
How different we from the Harkonnens are:
Is that the root of thy discomfiture?

KYNES: Thy propaganda runneth like the piss
That floods the streets of town and village both:
“Love the Duke, protector of the good…”

GURN: Here, villain!

LETO:                            Gurney, peace: this man’s endured
Much sorrow under vile Harkonnen’s rule.

GURN: Ayah.

KYNES:           Your subtle Hawat hath an aim.

LETO: Will you give us the bases that you hold?

KYNES: They are His Majesty’s.

LETO:                                            But are not used.

KYNES: They could be used.

LETO:                                         The Emperor concurs?

KYNES: Arrakis could be Eden if the men
Who ruled it would look up from damned spice!

LETO: How shall a planet without gold be Eden?

KYNES: What’s gold if it buys not the needful thing?

LETO: Ah, now. Another time we’ll that discuss.
But now we’ve passed the Shield Wall. Go on?

KYNES: And on. (Aside) And on until the end.

PAUL: Do plants survive below?

KYNES: Some do. They all
Have learned to steal the water they require
And suck the dew for life. Should you be caught
You’ll do the like, or perish quick enough.

PAUL: Steal water from another man to live?

KYNES: ‘Tis done, but such was not my import, sir.
My climate hath demands, and letteth not
The smallest drop of moisture go to waste
Or suffer any to go unaware
Of water any instant of the day.
Come two degrees to south, my lord. A storm
Approacheth from the west. We’ll clear the edge.

PAUL: Spice mining we shall see today?

KYNES:                                                     Belike.

LETO: Hath any man survived to tell the tale
Of his escape from burning desert sands?

KYNES: Not from the desert deep, for that is death
But from the second zone, one can survive
By crossing stony places where the worms
But seldom go. And so they ‘scape their maws.

LETO: The worms. I would I should see one of them.

KYNES: Wherever there is spice, the worms are there,
So you, my lord, may have your wish today.

LETO: Is there a bond between the worm and spice?

KYNES: The worms defend the sands where spice is found.
They have a territory, and their blood
Doth teem with mysteries alchemical.

LETO: And shields are no defense against the worms?

KYNES: A shield will call the worms as doth a flame
Call moths on other worlds. No man so rash
As wears a shield can survive their wrath.

LETO: God save us! Are these monsters ever slain?

KYNES: Each ring of every worm hath life. A shock
Electrical to each such ring applied
Can kill a worm intact. Explosives, too
Can stun and shatter them, but none prevail
Against the largest worms, unless ye would
Defy the Great Convention and thine arms
Atomic on leviathan unleash.

PAUL: Why hath the Emperor these behemoths not
Exterminated from the planet’s face?

KYNES: Too wide the world is and too high the cost

PAUL (aside): He speaketh half the truth, or else he lies.

LETO: Atreides leaves no man to such a fate.
We have decreed that all our liegemen shall
About their necks transmitters such as these
To call for aid be given, and ’twill come.

KYNES: Commendable, and useless all the same.
The static masks the signal, dust will mar
The signallers. Arrakis suffers not
Devices such as these to last. Our hopes
Beforetime on such things as these were set.
And when a worm is hunting, like as not
A quarter-hour’s all the life thou hast.

LETO: What would you advise?

KYNES:                                          You ask advice?

LETO: As planetologist.

KYNES:                             And as the Duke
You’d take advice when you had asked for it?

LETO: An’ it seemed good.

KYNES: Then never fare alone.

LETO:                                           That’s all?

KYNES: That’s all. Fare not alone, my lord.

GURN: And if one were forced down and quite alone?
Is anything there that a man might do?

KYNES: By “anything” a man might much infer.

PAUL: And what would you do, caught in such a strait?

KYNES: Protect my suit. In rock or with no worm
Stay with the ship. In open sand, I’d run
A thousand meters, then hid in my robe,
A worm would take the ship, but leave my corse.
Then wait until the worm had passed, and walk
As softly as I might, and seek t’avoid
The drum sand and the fields of tidal dust.

GURN: Drum sand, what is this?

KYNES:                                            A sand compact
And resonant that drums when any man
Doth step within. Worms always come to such.

LETO: And fields of tidal dust?

KYNES: The desert vales
Have filled betimes with dust so vast and thick
That they have tides and currents like the seas
Of softer worlds, and swallow wanderers.

GURN: A cloud of dust ahead.

KYNES: ‘Tis what we seek.
A crawler of your complement. The cloud
Is vented sand expelled from whence the spice
Hath been removed. No other cloud ’tis like.

LETO: And over it are aircraft.

KYNES:                                      They do search
The sand for wormsign.

LETO:    Wormsign?

KYNES: Moving sand
That moveth as a wave toward the crawler
Their carryall should be i’th’air as well.

GURN: And always comes a worm?

KYNES:                                              They always come.

LETO: Is that the wormsign, east beyond the men?

KYNES: A big one, too! Well-done, to spot it so!
(in radio): To Delta Ajax Niner, wormsign comes.

MINER: Who calleth Delta Ajax, with alarm?

KYNES: Within this three-mile may you see us flying
In five-and-twenty minutes comes the worm
To intercept, and rend your hull apart.

MINER: Sharp estimate of danger, and unknown
To whom the credit for alarm well sent?

KYNES: The man who sounds th’alarm gets bonus pay.

GURN: Tell them who did spot that worm, good man.

KYNES: Th’alarm was sounded by th’Atreides Duke.

MINER: We read and thank our good and watchful lord.

GURN: Now tell them that the Duke doth wish the gold
Divided by his crew that labors here.

KYNES: The Duke grants you the bonus for yourselves
Divided equally among your fellows.

MINER: Acknowledged, and God save our gracious lord.

LETO: Gurney splits the gold with silver tongue.

GURN: Now men will know their Duke doth care for them.

LETO: What happens now?

KYNES:                                   The carryall will come.
And lift the crawler off ere worm arrives.
The spice is rich, they’ll work until the last.

GURN: Should we not hear them cal the carryall?

MINER: Sees any man the wing? He answers not.
Report by numbers!

SPOTTER 1:            Spotter One, no sign.

SPOTTER 2: And Spotter Two is negative

SPOTTER 3:                                                  Alas!
I, Spotter Three, see nothing to report.

SPOTTER CONTROL: The wing was high northwest, but now ’tis gone!

LETO: Four spotters, and five ‘thopters fly with us.
Our ships are bigger, and can carry more.
We’ll load them two and three, and take them off.

PAUL: We’re short by three.

LETO:                                       Why have we not two wings
For every crawler in just such a case?

KYNES: Ye have not the equipment left to spare.

LETO: The more we should protect that which we have.

GURN: Where could it go?

KYNES:                                It may have been forced down.

LETO: How could they lose an aircraft of such bulk?

KYNES: The spotters search the ground for worms, not air.

LETO (in radio): We land to take off Delta Ajax crew
The spotters take the east and we the west.

MINER: We’ve almost a full load of spice! We’ll not
Abandon it to hell-spawned worms and dust!

LETO: God rot the spice in hell along with worms!
We’ve deserts full of spice, but not of men!
We’ve seats enough for all but three: draw lots
For who shall stay, but all the rest shall fly!
We’re down! Do you and Paul throw out that seat
Good Gurney. Why come they not out?

KYNES: They hope the carryall will reappear.

LETO: We’ll leave no men to be the food of worms!
You men toss out your shields that one more man
May ride with you. You men within that hulk!
Come out or I’ll with lasgun cut apart
That factory and leave ye naught to save!

Enter MINERS. They board the ‘thopter

MINER 1: The worm is on us! Fly, or we be lost!

LETO: Calm yourself, we’ve yet three minutes’ time.
Now off, with what’s more precious yet than spice!

MINER 2: It swalloweth the crawler in a gulp!

MINER 3: O God, our spice! How can such monsters be?

LETO: There’ll be a reckoning for this, by God.

KYNES: The Maker and His water blessed be
The coming and the going of him bless.
His passage cleanse the world and may he keep
The world for aye his people: cry Amen.

LETO: What’s that you say, good doctor?

MINER 1:                                                         Liet!

MINER 2:                                                                         Hush!
You be Duke Leto. You we owe the thanks
For saving us, when we’d giv’n up the ghost

GURN: Hold thy tongue, the Duke must fly his ship.

LETO: Who’s that? Who walks the sands when we do fly?

MINER 2: Two Johnnies come along and hitched a ride.

LETO: Why said ye naught of them? Are ye gone dumb?

MINER 2: ‘Twas chance they took, and chance doth take her due.

KYNES: There’s little to be done for them, i’sooth.

LETO: We’ll send a ship from base to rescue them.

KYNES: As you command. But like enough the ship will find no man.

PAUL: They were beside the worm when it appeared.
How did they thus escape calamity?

KYNES: Appearances deceive the eyes in sand.

PAUL: Why were those Fremen on the crawler, then?

MINER 2: Who be this lad?

GURN: Atreides ducal heir.

MINER 2: Why says he Fremen rode our factory?

PAUL: They have the look of Fremen, and their skills.

KYNES: A Fremen is not known all in a glance.
Who were those men, and why were they aboard?

MINER 2: Friends from a village, there to see the spice.

KYNES: Fremen!

MINER 2: Let’s of dead men speak no ill.

KYNES (aside): Lisan al-Gaib shall pierce all subterfuge.
What men are these, that God hath brought them here?
This boy with piercing mind sprung from this man
This Duke, who loved his men more than the spice?
He hazarded his life, his son’s to save
The men, and raged that they were jeoparded.
The loss of spice he spurned as though it were
Unworthiest of prospects. Such a man
Were rich in loyalty, though penny-poor.
Against my will, I much admire this Duke.