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

The dining hall and great hall of the Duke’s Residence of Arrakeen


Enter the DUKE LETO

LETO: Old Damocles imagined that a sword
Hung by a hair to end him lest mischance
Of none so small a breeze should smite him dead.
And that none smite us likewise we suspend
The poison-snooper’s spidery arms o’erhead.
Will someone poison food, and try chaumas
Perhaps chaumurky: poison in the drink.
O wretched language, laced with niceties
Of death distinctive, each to have its name.
You there, serving woman, hither come.


SERV: You called me, Noble Born?

LETO: Explain these sinks
That yawn with massive basins and the racks
Of towels as this were a very bath.

SERV: ‘Tis custom, Noble Born, for guests to wash
And show the Noble House’s opulence
By drenching water ’round about the door,
As they lave off their hands and sop each trace
Of moisture from their hands, they fling these soft
Weaved towels dripping from their bath afoot
Before the door where every trampling guest
May walk across them and so add t’the pile.
And after they have supped the beggars groan
Without the door for squeezings from the mass.

LETO: Harkonnen custom, vile and unrestrained
To mock a people’s poverty and pain.
Remove these basins, and the towels, too.
This custom is no more, But as their due
While we are dining every man who calls
May have a cup of water, free as’t falls
On worlds where rain doth bless the land.
Each man, each woman, child shall have their hand
Filled with that water free as they have air.

And be assured, my soldiers will be there.

Exit SERVANT with basins and towels.


LETO: I have removed the basins that once gaped
Like wounds their waste of water by this door.
That custom ends with me ere sun is set.

BEWT: Is that a ducal order, good my lord?

LETO: Your conscience should need naught of such from me.

BEWT: Does my lord imply our custom’s ill?

LETO: The custom has been changed, for good, not ill.

BEWT: Then with the Duke’s permission we’ll discuss
Anon of custom.

JESS: Dinner has been served.

LETO: Our guest hath questions, which we must address.

BEWT: The water-customs show a people’s face
And to their face, my lord, do you intend
To carry on the mockery this house
Expends on its conservatory plants
And using what would slake the burning thirst
That torments every poor man’s dusty throat?

JESS: My Lord, the Duke and I have other plans
For that conservatory, held in trust
Shall be a sign of hope that one day such
May flourish on Arrakis ‘neath the sky.

LETO: Diversify your holdings, sir. Someday
Your water will be free to all who thirst.

BEWT: A dream commendable and fondly hoped.

KYNES (aside): And they shall share your dearest heart’s desire.

(to JESS) And do you bring the shortening of the way?

JESS (aside): “Shortening of the way.” Chakobsa would
That render as “the Kwisatz Haderach”
Our Missionaria Protectiva hath
Been at this planet, planting seeds of faith
That any Bene Gesserit might claim
With Fremen sanctuary. Did they plant
The legend of the Kwisatz Haderach
As well? It could be Paul: it yet could be.

BEWT: Ah, Dr. Kynes, you’ve doffed your Fremen rags.

KYNES: They say a fatal carelessness afflicts
A man who owns much water in the dunes.

BEWT: They’ve many a weird saying in the dunes.
And many have this planet sought to change.

SOLDIER: My Lord, the dinner now awaits your pleasure.

JESS: The custom here is hosts are seated last.
Do you intend to change it, too, my lord?

LETO: We’ll let it stand, an’ you will grant me peace.
(aside) I must put on that I do think her false.
What fool among my guests believes this lie?

JESS: (aside) Why struggles he as though his heart is twain?
The girl with Paul is daughter to a man
Who makes the cheapest stillsuits on this world.

LETO: Who is he whose face is like a map
Of some war-ravaged world ahead of Paul?

JESS: Esmar Tuek, smuggler prince of Dune
Good Gurney did invite him; he’s well-known.
And’s very presence will sow doubt and fear
Among those who might wish to use his ships
To circumvent your laws against the graft.

(they sit)

LETO: The laving basins are the first to go
An emblem of my ducal rule, but not
The first to change beneath my watchful eye.
As Knight Imperial I offer this,
A toast: Here I am come, and do remain!
With commerce cometh fortune everywhere.

He sips.

Good Gurney play a tune, I’ve not the voice
To sing in olden times as once it was
For host to entertain his guests, but words
Of others’ talents I do give you now
To all who gave their lives that we might rule:

“Review friends, troops long past review
All to fate a weight of pains and dollars
Their spirits wear our silver collars.”

Review friends, troops long past review:
Each dot of time without pretense or guile
With them passes the lure of fortune.”

“Review friends, troops long past review.
When our time ends on its rictus smile,
We’ll pass the lure of fortune.”

He drinks, slams cup on table.
Lifts glass and empties it on the floor.
JESSICA follows, then the rest.
KYNES empties his flagon in a stillsuit pouch.

Let us to dine, and merry make ourselves.

SOO: I understand a factory was lost.

LETO: News travels fast, it seems.

SOO: Then it is true?

LETO: Of course ’tis true. The carryall was lost.
So big a thing ought harder be to lose.

SOO: And no one saw it go?

KYNES: The spotters watch
The sands, not air, Four men do crew those wings
That carry off the harvesters. If one
Or two were traitors, paid Harkonnen spies…

SOO: I see. And do you, Judge of Change, object?

KYNES: I must bethink my role in confidence
(aside) This villain knoweth more than he doth say,
And that I was instructed by my Lord
The Emperor to overlook such things!

JESS (aside): I recognize this banker’s speech and tone.
‘Tis that of Giedi Prime, Harkonnen’s seat
An agent here, within the Spacing Guild’s
Own bank. O God defend us, hath the Guild
Itself ta’en up Atreides’ downfall now?
If I am right, he’ll sow discomfort next
By saying something innocent, but full
Of dark, portentous images.

SOO: I like to watch Arrakis’ birds in flight.
They eat the dead, and many drink their blood.

WOMAN: Disgusting, Soo-soo, here to say such things.

SOO: They call me Soo-soo, that I do advise
The Water-Peddlers’ Union, for their cries:
“Soo-soo Sook!” It rings in every street
Promising relief from desert heat.

JESS (aside) He boasteth that he, too controls the flow
Of water on this world, and speaks for show.

PAUL: Do you mean sir, these birds do eat their own?

SOO: Strange question: I did say they drank of blood.
Why must it be their own, it comes to that?

PAUL: Not strange to any educated man
Who know that competition hath its source
In those who eat the same, of the same dish

he forks a bite from SOO-SOO’s plate and eats it.

And thus in killing kin do kill a threat.

LETO: Do not mistake my son: he is no boy.

KYNES: My science says young Paul hath seen the truth
Blood’s energy. Who knows that shall survive.

SOO: The Fremen scum are said to drink the blood
Of dead men in their desert crevices.

KYNES: The water, not the blood, sir. All his kin
Who live within the desert have a need.
For every drop of water which the dead
No longer do require. Forgive me, that
I speak of such necessities macabre
My lady, but this falsehood should not stand
Between us, when we’ve truth to understand.

SOO: You’re hardly fit to dine with. The uncouth
And desert Fremen foul thy very mouth.

KYNES: Do you insult and challenge me, sirrah?

SOO: I’d not our lord and lady so disgrace.

KYNES: Our lord and lady know when they’re digraced
Without thy help. They understand defense
Of honor for they have courageous hearts
That brave our world Arrakis here and now.
Hast thou yet more to say?

SOO: No slight was meant.
If I offended, prithee, pardon me.

KYNES: Pardon freely given, as ’twas asked.

JESS: I find myself amazed each day anew
How precious simple water truly is.

KYNES: The Law of Minimums is active here.

JESS: You mean that here, ’tis water limits growth.

KYNES: The members of the Houses Great do not
So often understand ecology.
Here water is the limit as you say
And growth itself unlimited can slay.

JESS: Do you say that Arrakis could sustain
Its human population in a state
Less perilous than they do suffer now?

BEWT: Impossible. His dreams are like the dews
That vanish in the morning, leaving dust.
Our water’s not enough, and there’s an end.

KYNES: Of water Master Bewt knows all he needs.

LETO: Nay, answer me, good planetologist.
Is water here enough to change this world?

KYNES: ‘Tis possible.

JESS (aside): He feigns uncertainty!

PAUL (aside): There is enough! He does not wish it known.

Enter SOLDIER. He gives a message to LETO. LETO rises.

LETO: Stay seated, all of you: I must away.
A matter hath arisen that requires
My personal attention. Paul, my place
As host you must assume. And Gurney, come
Be seated in Paul’s place, we must not lose
A number of our company tonight.
I must request you do not leave our house
Until our guard reports that all’s secured.


PAUL: Continue. Dr. Kynes, you spoke of water?

KYNES: May we another time hold that discourse?

PAUL: Of course.

SOO: None can surpass our Master Bewt
In speaking. Why, he might his own Great House
Aspire to lead, so lead us in a toast
Of wisdom for this boy who plays a man.

PAUL: On Caladan, I saw a drowned man…

GIRL: A drowned man?

PAUL: Immersed until he died.

GIRL: Can men so die? O fascinating end.

PAUL: And fascinating too the wounds he bore
Upon his shoulders, where another man
Had stood in vain attempt to reach the air
And likewise drowned.

SOO: Why doth this fascinate?

PAUL: Because of what my father said, withal:
That one can understand the drowning man
Who climbs your shoulders for his life to save
Unless it happens in the drawing room.
Or at the dinner table, is’t not so?

KYNES: Atreides’ son hath talons of his own.

SOO: Do all Atreides give their guests insult?

JESS: Sir! My son a garment doth display
For usage general, and do you claim
It tailor made to fit your circumstance
How fascinating. Speak a little more.

TUEK: A toast I’ll give in Paul Atreides’ name.
A boy in looks, in action more the man.

The guests respond

JESS (aside): Where leadeth Kynes, the people follow on.
What power hath this man, and what’s its source?
(to SOO)

GURN: We should not quickly take too much offense.

GIRL: A tragedy when men die of offense
When no offense was thought to be displayed.

KYNES: Do you not owe yet an apology?

SOO: Your drink is potent, Lady, and I fear
It speaketh as it would through mine own tongue
And sys not what I would, but as it lists.

GIRL: The Duke spoke of security. I pray
No more of violence may stand in our way.

JESS: Between Atreides and Harkonnen, feud
Doth stand, and we cannot too careful be.
The Duke hath kanly sworn, no man to leave
Alive who calls Harkonnen liege tonight.
And all our laws support his dread resolve.
Is it not so?

KYNES: Indeed, it is the case.


JESS: Our Duke has triumphed. Both machine and man
That caused our factory’s destruction have
At last been found. The villain did arrive
To sell his stolen carryall unto
A smuggler, who did swiftly come to us
With news and claimed a just and true reward.
(aside) More here is written in our code
Harkonnen weapons through our interdict
Did try to smuggle: Lasguns, God defend
Us from their beams of incandescent light.
They fear our shields not. How can that be?
If lasgun beam doth strike a shield’s face
The subatomic fusion could reduce
This city to a plain of molten glass.
O how do they dare hazard such a chance
And with such weapons lead a deadly dance?