William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act II, Scene vii.

Enter the DUKE LETO and THUFIR

THU: These chairs are free of all our foeman’s spoor
And yet his very absence leaves its mark.

LETO: My mind goes hungering, and would be filled
By thoughts of spice Harkonnen and our lord
The Emperor hath secretly amassed.

THU: My Lord?

LETO: What wealth one man may store, may burn
And who will then enjoy those scheming fruits
Of artificial shortage sold so dear?
The Emperor, ’tis true, is past our grasp
But he’d not sorrow if Harkonnen’s hoard
Should suffer injury, and can his great
And gross suspensor-fattened lordship voice
Protest when what he must deny he hath
Is burned? He’ll rather shut his croaking mouth
Than risk the greater hunger he’d endure
Were all his machinations brought to light:
He’ll eat, howe’er so bitter be the gall
Than be himself the eaten.

THU: We’ve few men.

LETO: The Fremen Idaho hath allied with
Might rather Giedi Prime impoverish
Than wait for Old Harkonnen to return,
And such might draw the eye baronial
From thoughts of conquest on our desert globe.

THU: As you, my Lord, command, it shall be done.

LETO: And now, old friend what think you of the news
My son hath brought? You keep your secrets hid
Behind those stained lips as though the news
Were dragon’s breath that might consume our House.

THU: I know not what to say: this fire may burn.

LETO: We share the scars of wounds that burned enough
For one another, earned in war and peace.
Shall we then fear our tongues too much to speak?

THU: I did retrieve a fragment of a note
From old Harkonnen’s messenger, a man
We’ve cause to think the chiefest of his spies
Upon this barren planet. It’s a thing
Of weighty consequence or none, in truth
Confusion may its mode and modus be.

LETO: A weighty note indeed: make me wait less.

THU: A fragmentary note, and incomplete
But salvaged from its own destruction, just
A scrap remains, and reads as follows, thus:
“…eto cannot suspect, and when the blow
Doth fall from hand beloved, source alone
Shall be enough to oversee his ruin.”
The Baron hath himself the message writ.

LETO: Thine implication’s clear as it is foul.

THU: I’d sooner cut my arms from off my corpse
Than wound thee, but my duty’s to thy life.

LETO: Couldst thou not then put the sources vile
Of this calumny to sharp questioning?

THU: The dead cannot be questioned, more’s the shame.
My Lord, we must consider whether this–

LETO: O fie! No woman ever greater chance
These sixteen years hath had to bring me low!
Thou hast thyself the woman and her school
Exonerated and no malice found.

THU: Yet malice hath escaped my notice, too.

LETO: Harkonnen must destroy Atreides’ line,
And Paul her son could not escape his plot
Shall any woman murder her own flesh?

THU: Who says she does? She may strike only thee.
She’s said to be an orphan, ignorant
Of lineage or other loyalty,
But if she knew her parents and they fell
By order of thy father, or his sire?

LETO: She’d not have hesitated until now
To slip a poniard through my ribs or plant
A subtle poison drifting in my cup.

THU: Thy death is not Harkonnen’s aim: they lust
To see thee slain, unmanned and desolate.

LETO: How better to unman me than to sow
The seeds of discord in my very breast?

THU: So may it be, yet so I dare not think.

LETO (aside): This poisonous suspicion chills my heart
Yet such suspicion fires the very veins
That feed the mind of Thufir, best of men.
In this I’ll counterfeit the changing moon
And waver in my course concerning her:
A changing face put on to men below
But be the self-same rock, though swathed in shade
And nonetheless be true to her I love.

(to Hawat) Then what wouldst thou suggest?

THU: She should be watched.

And I will see it done with subtlety

LETO: What of my son?

THU: By Yueh he’ll be watched.

LETO: I leave the matter in thy careful hands.

THU: With all discretion, Lord. I live to serve.
And I’ve a filmclip here. The Fremen faith
Upon the which you asked…

LETO: Will it not wait
Will nothing keep but I must drink it in
The sands of this whole planet parch my throat!

THU: Aye my lord. You asked what they did shout.
They called the young Lord “Mahdi” as we passed.

LETO: They look to Paul?

THU: They have a legend here.
A prophecy of Bene Gesserit’s son
Who’ll lead them free of this accursed waste
Like every such messiah that men know.

LETO: And they think Paul..?

THU: They only hope, my lord.

LETO: I’ll put it by and view it on the morrow.


LETO: Arrakis’ double-moon bathes cliffs in frost
And freezes thus in me a new resolve
Of anger cold: Harkonnen shall no more
My steps direct, nor me affright an inch.
But here I’ll perch, and rule as doth the hawk
Among the lesser birds, with eye and claw.
Now comes the dawn, and frets with golden fire
The rocks that bear the sky aloft, and rear
Mine own pavilion, this shall be my son’s
And, yea, in time, a home for even me.
The flowers bloom here also, with the dew.
But look, sad figures move among the blooms,
With scythes to catch that sparkle, ere it fades
And bakes away beneath the heat of dawn.
And though with beauty Dune doth clothe its face
It masks the suffering of a hideous place.