William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act II, Scene xi

The Great Hall of Arrakeen. Night.

Enter DUNCAN IDAHO with GUARDS and SHADOUT MAPES

GUARD: Aroint thee! You’ll wake Lady Jessica!

IDAHO: Awake the Lady Jessica be damned
My sword on Grumman first was stained with blood!

Enter the LADY JESSICA

GUARD: Your pardon lady. He without the door
Raised such a ruckus as to black our name
Among the commons, which we should not bear
And came not in what’s worse, except by force.

JESS: Where hath he been at this ungodly hour?

GUARD: Escorting ladies home. They ask for him
Concerning their surveillance in this wise.

JESS: He’s drunk: you Mapes, spice coffee hither fetch.

IDAHO: What brings me here? What planet can it be
Where man can neither live upon’t nor in’t.
What jest is this, played on a man that’s killed
Three hundred men and more to serve his Duke?

Enter DR. YUEH

IDAHO: Good doctor! Sawman of a thousand bones!
No fear that I shall injure thee, I trow
I make a fool of none before myself
Whom I have filled with good spice beer withal
The best of brews imagine a bubble!
Harkon’ I killed. I killed him for the Duke!

MAPES returns with coffee

YUEH: Drink thou this tankard off.

IDAHO: No more to drink!

YUEH: Drink this, I say! No more discourtesy

IDAHO: My fill I’ve had of drink and pleasing men
And all the universe Imperial
My lords have had their wills enough, now mine
Be done on this Arrakis ‘neath the sky.

YUEH: So be it after thou hast drunken this.

IDAHO: ‘Tis like enow to be too like this place
A sun too bright, that mocketh every hue
The eye can fathom, staining all the world.

YUEH: ‘Tis night: the sun can make no mock of thee.
Drink this and wilt feel better soon enough.

IDAHO: Nay, feeling better I shall feel the worse
For feeling worser in a worser place
Is better. That is logicallest fact.

JESS: This argument could last th’entire night.

She strikes him in the face.

Conduct thyself aright before thy Duke
And drink this off, I order thee.

IDAHO: I heed
no damned Harkonnen spy. Aroint thee, witch!

JESS: You knew?

YUEH: I heard but rumors in the wind.

JESS: Bring Hawat! I’ll see Hawat instantly!
No other man could so suspect me false
And have aught but derision in exchange.

IDAHO: Do chuck the coffee out wi’th’serving wench.

LADY JESSICA dashes the coffee in IDAHO’s face.

JESS: Let him sleep his idiocy off
Within a room that’s locked away from men.

GUARD: Perhaps another place, milady. He…

JESS: Is to be here. The ladies he surveilles!
Bring Hawat now to me, or I shall call
The Duke. I’d liefer not disturb his watch
But if you bring him not, I’ll move his world.

Exit GUARDS dragging IDAHO.

JESS: You Mapes and Yueh, get ye now to bed.
I’ll do the thing that settles this anon.

Exit YUEH and MAPES.

JESS: Now let him come. If he’s Harkonnen’s thrall
I’ll know. If not, we’ll see what we will see.

Enter HAWAT.

JESS: Bring thou that chair and sit. Turn not from me.
The air between us must be cleared of doubt.

HAWAT: What troubleth my lady?

JESS: Play no more!
If Yueh told thee not what I intend
A spy of thine within this house hath served
To notify thee of tonight’s events
So honest shall we be between us here?

HAWAT: As you command: so honest let us be?

JESS: A question you shall answer, yea or nay:
Art thou Harkonnen’s man, and treacherous?

HAWAT: You dare insult me so?

JESS: Rise not at this!
Thou hast me so insulted this aye night.
I know now by thy words that thou art no
Vile traitor, but the Duke’s most loyal man.
Therefore I thine affront to me forgive.

HAWAT: Have I done aught, forgiveness to require?

JESS (aside): I carry Leto’s daughter. Shall I tell
Him this to make him sure I’m never false?
Nay, Leto knoweth not. I’ll use this not.
(to HAWAT) A boarded Truthsayer would settle this
But we have none so qualified.

HAWAT: We’ve none.

JESS: Have we a traitor? Who then can it be?
Gurney, slave of Beast Rabban, who longs
His family’s revenge to carry out?
Duncan whose Ginaz Harkonnen killed?
Not you, or Paul. And no, it is not I.
Is’t Yueh, then? Call we him back tonight
And put him to the test between us two?

HAWAT: An empty gesture: his conditioning
Cannot be broken without killing him.

JESS: And old Harkonnen also killed his wife.

HAWAT: Is that what happened? Poor, revengeless soul.

JESS: What brought on me this base suspicion?

HAWAT: I cannot trust you, so I cannot say
My loyalty is foremost to the Duke.

JESS: That loyalty compels me to forgive.

HAWAT: Again: have I done something to forgive?

JESS: We stalemate each other with mistrust.

HAWAT: I dare not take the most minutest chance.

JESS: A threat to Paul was missed within this house
Who took that chance? Who might have paid the price?

HAWAT: I offered to resign before the Duke!

JESS: Didst offer it to me? Or unto Paul?

HAWAT: I serve the Duke, not you. Not even Paul.

JESS: There is no treachery: this is their goal
To set us hunting one another’s souls
It’s something else. With this they us distract.
Perhaps the lasguns, timed and set to fire
Upon our shields.

HAWAT: And who could after tell
The blast were not atomic, bringing down
The Great Convention’s promised penalty
Of world-annihilation. They’d not dare.

JESS: You serve the Duke. And would you save the man
You serve by killing him with all your schemes.

HAWAT: You’ll have my most abject apologies
If you are innocenter than you seem.

JESS: Look you, Thufir: humans live in peace
When each his place and duty knoweth best.
Destroy the place and you destroy the man
Or woman. Of the Duke’s true friends, we two
Are too exactly placed each other’s place
To kill, and thus the Duke’s denied a friend.
Could I not sow suspicion in his ear
Of you if I did wish? When could I thus.
Must I speak plainer, or does that suffice?

HAWAT: You threaten me?

JESS: Not so, I do propose
To meet this sland’rous charge and so negate
Its poisonous affect upon us all.

HAWAT: You think I whisper baseless slander now?

JESS: Baseless accusations, yes.

HAWAT You’d meet
My fears with whispered rumors of your own?

JESS: Your life’s composed of whispers. Mine is not.

HAWAT: You question my abilities?

JESS: Your mind?
No, never. But your feelings in this place
Like Idaho’s, like all our men we’ve seen
Fall into fear, and drunkenness and sloth,
May yet betray you, though you Mentat are.
Our home was Caladan, Arrakis is
Unknown. They fear the Duke may fail them
And so do you. It leads you quite astray.

HAWAT: You undermine my faith in mine own trade!
If any other sought to sabotage
A weapon such as that, I’d have him bound,
Arrested, and before the Duke for trial!

JESS: The finest Mentats know that they can err.

HAWAT:You twist my words! I said not otherwise!

JESS: Then see what lies before you Mentat: men
Disoriented, spreading rumors, feared
Of shadows, trusting none except themselves.
Like men of the Ampoliros, that ship
That searched the stars and nevermore came home
Forever seeking, ever unprepared,
Sick at their guns, and evermore unready.
Why have you never made a use of me
Of my abilities, to serve your Duke?

HAWAT: I know the training Bene Gesserit..

JESS: Hold not thy tongue, say what you mean to say
The Bene Gesserit witches is your phrase.

HAWAT: I know what lies beneath your humble cant
That says you do exist and but to serve.
And I have seen it manifest in Paul.

JESS: You listen with respect, but heed me not.

HAWAT: I trust your Bene Gesserit motives not.
That think they can look through a man and make
Him dance to any tune ye care to play.

JESS: Thou fool, ye have not heard the merest part
Of rumor and the truth is greater still.
If I did wish to slay my Duke or thee
Or any other man within my reach
Your skill could not prevent me from the act.

HAWAT (aside): Is this a boast, or may it be the truth?
O I could slay her now, but if I err
In this it means the death of him I love
And if I hold my hand, but I guess right
Then death again shall be the consequence
O wretched man am I to face this task!

JESS: I pray that we shall ne’er have cause to fight.

HAWAT: A worthy prayer; God say amen to that.

JESS: Is’t not most reasonable to believe
Harkonnen hath disinformation sown
To pit us ‘gainst the other, both to wound?

HAWAT: So we return to stalemate again.

JESS: As father and as mother to our folk
The Duke and I do stand as surrogates.

HAWAT: He hath not married you, O concubine.

JESS: But he’ll not wed another while I live.
To break this family, who best to move?
Who for Harkonnen’s schemes is fitly placed?
The Duke, ideal, but all who serve him guard.
And I? But Bene Gesserit move not
Except by effort patient and slow
Yet one exists whose duties to create
A blindness to this tactic who suspects
Not this because he never would suspect
Suspicion, for it is the air he breathes.
Who builds his life of schemes and mysteries:
‘Tis you, O Thufir!

HAWAT rises.

I dismissed you not!

HAWAT falls back into his chair.

Know now the real training I have had.
I said we should each other understand
I meant that you should come to understand
My power, for I understand you quite.
And know thy loyalty toward my Duke
Is all that keeps you safe within my grasp.
If I so wished, the Duke would marry me.
He might believe that he had chosen it.
You’ve glimpsed the fist beneath Ben’ Gess’rit’s glove
Few glimpse it as you have and still do live.
And still you have not seen my arsenal.
It was a simple thing for us I did.

HAWAT (aside): Her voice commanded me, and I obeyed
No force of will could have availed me then
And had she wished I would lie dead tonight.
(to JESS) Why hast thou not thus killed the Duke his foes?

JESS: Whom should I kill? Should Leto lean on me?
And power hath two edges, that we know.
If Bene Gesserit used such power oft
Would it not make us everywhere suspect?
We wish that not. Indeed, Thufir, we wish
As we do say “to live and serve,” no more.
I trust you’ll now learn better to suspect.

HAWAT: If this proves baseless.

JESS: If?

HAWAT: I yet say if.

JESS: What means it to you that I had you bound
As if with ropes, and held a knife to slay
Thee out of hand and yet I cut thy bonds
And gave to you that knife, to freely use?
You may go now.

HAWAT (aside): I mind me now
I saw the father of our Duke i’th’ring.
On Caladan, he dazed the stupid beast
And turn’d his back upon it, void of fear.
I wondered at his bravery and how
‘Twould feel to mock death with such surety.
I know not that: I do know to the core,
I am that bull, and she the matador.