William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act III, Scene vii

A rocky outcrop with metal poles marking a path upwards to a hidden desert garden.
Sandworm sounds. Crashing. The beat of a thumper.

Enter PAUL and JESSICA, exhausted.

JESS: What burning hell in scriptures prophesied
By man of God or women’s cunning plots
Hath demons in it awful as these worms
Which raven after every weary step
That we do take upon the sands of Dune?

PAUL: I’faith, it was a greater monster yet
Than that which took our ‘thopter that we crashed
This twoday since, its maw a nest of knives
Sufficient as an armory for all
The Fremen on Arrakis if they dared
To brave a foe more deadly than the throng
Of Sardaukar that hunt them through the wastes.

JESS (aside): The Sardaukar that hunt us through the wastes
Would hunt us still, but for his mastery
Of flight that after we and Kynes did part
He showed in feats that never hawk did match.
An eagle, nay, a phoenix of the shades
He was who slipped us from Harkonnen’s claws
And led them through the all-consuming storm
That rose, a wall of death above the sands.
There, hidden in the darkling flames of time
He did his life and mine regenerate
And helmed our stricken ‘thopter from the skies
Upon a softer sand, once death now life
When measured ‘gainst the furies of the air.
What have I wrought? I counted it to be
A high and wondrous thing to bear a god
The Kwisatz Haderach within my womb,
And now I know what high and wondrous thing
It is to bear a man. How can this be
The babe I held in arms, now armed for war
To bear me in his strength and give me life
As once I gave to him? A mystery
Is this that all our schools of womanhood
Dare not unravel, but in silent awe
Behold our dreadful work that is a man.

PAUL (aside): The time, like sand, doth like a river flow.
It bends upon itself. Ahead it splits
In forks, and whither goeth none can say,
Not even with this spice-charged prescience.
And yet this flow, redoubled on itself
Doth bring me face-to-face with what is past:
My mother, who once guarded me, I guard
With all the skill she taught to me, and more:
The trades my father taught, the skill with knife
And ornithopter, and a Mentat mind,
They all protect her, yet upon the sands
Time’s river did reverse again, and she
Again became my guide, and led me through
The valley of despair, where we had lost
Our life-sustaining pack in waves of sand.
And we lived but by disciplines she taught
Me all my years of boyhood. Strange reverse
That brings us to these cliffs, a safer shore
Than waves of sand, but only if we find
Th’elusive Fremen. Naught of them we’ve seen,
But only heard a distant thumper’s call
To worms. Why call they worms, which any else
Do flee from as from Hell’s wide-gaping maw?
I see in th’eye o’th’mind it hath to do
With what our Fremkit names the “maker hooks.”
More see I not. My inner eye grows dim.

JESS: How is it we do live? And what’s this place?

PAUL: I know not, but these poles lead up the cliff.

They make their way upwards to the garden

PAUL: These steps were carved by men, or I am none.

JESS: What wondrous place is this, sprung from the wastes,
As if t’were Oberon’s annex on the world.

PAUL: ‘Tis tended by the Fremen, for these greens
Look not like the inhabitants o’this’earth
And yet are on’t. A fairyland indeed.

Enter STILGAR, JAMIS, CHANI, and FREMEN, unseen

JESS: The labor and the sweat of many men
Must be poured out upon such verdancy.

PAUL: We’ll pitch our tent, and on the morn we’ll see
If we find Fremen, wheresoe’er they be.

STIL: Those who trespass in our secret grove
Are grateful if they’ve recently been shrove.
Run not, trespassers, bad enough to spill
What water’s in your blood, ‘thout losing more
To sweat by bootless running to your deaths.

JAMIS: Be quick and get their water. Til the dawn
We’ve not much time. Come, Stil, and let’s be off.

FREMEN: Cignoro hrobosa sukares hin
Mange la pchagavas me kamavas
Doi na beslas lele pal hrobas, hai.

STIL (stepping out of concealment): What have we, jinn in human form, or man?
A human woman. Do you also speak?

JESS: Who comes upon us, like a thief i’the night?

STIL: A cub as well. And we might welcome you
If fugitives you from Harkonnen be.

PAUL: Why would you welcome fugitives at all?

STIL: A boy who thinks and speaks as doth a man.
Young wali, I will answer what you ask:
I am one who does not pay the fai,
The water-tribute that Harkonnen takes.
So I might welcome any fugitive
Who might an ally make to me and mine.
I am Stilgar, Fremen of the sands
If that can speed your tongue, then let it run.

PAUL: I know you, Stilgar. You did come to claim
The knife and water of your murdered friend.
And Duncan Idaho did go with you

STIL: And he abandoned us to seek his Duke.

JAMIS: We waste our time upon this offworld child.

STIL: The Duke Atreides was a man, i’faith
What else so e’er his faults had been: this lad
A thumper used and made a valiant crossing
I’the path of shai-hulud. Atreides’ son
Is he, whom Liet told us we should seek.

JAMIS: We have no time to execute the test!

STIL: Yet he could be Lisan al-Gaib in truth.

JAMIS: But the woman…

STIL: Aye, her water, too.

JAMIS: By law, who cannot bear the desert sands…

STIL: Be silent. Time and circumstance do change.

JAMIS: Is this command of Liet, or of thee?

STIL: You heard the voice o’the bat, the distrans sent
From Liet in its modulated cries
Why dost thou press me, Jamis, on this point?

JAMIS: I but remind thee of thy duty, friend.

STIL: My duty is our people’s strength. My one
And only duty this. I need no man
To whisper duty in mine ear. This child
Full-fleshed with water, raised far from the sun
Hath not the eyes of ibad, yet he acts
And speaks not like a weakling of the pans.
Nor did his father. How can such things be?

JAMIS: We cannot risk patrolling Sardaukar!

STIL: Be silent then! I’ll tell thee not again.
Cielago’s voice said we should value find
In saving you. This boy-or-man can learn
To fight and live, but woman what of you?

JESS: I am his mother. I have trained his strength
Which you admire. It in part is mine.

STIL: A woman’s strength is boundless as the sands
If she be Reverend Mother. Art thou such?

JESS: No.

STIL: Hast thou in the desert way been trained?

JESS: Many bless my training, nonetheless.

STIL: We cannot dally here to test your skill.
Your son I’ll take, and give him countenance.
But you have naught. Istislah, ’tis the rule.

PAUL: What grim import is meant within these words?

STIL: One who hath not been trained to live with us
From early age might die with us instead
And bring us all to doom in innocence
But doom no less for want of treachery.
It is the law: we bear no useless folk.

(JESSICA feigns a collapse, and disarms STILGAR, restraining him. PAUL is intercepted by JAMIS, disarms him, and hides)

STIL: Stay back, you pack of vermin-headed lice!
She’ll break my neck if you come nearer us!

FREMEN: The boy is gone, Stil. What are we to do?

STIL: Of course, he’s gone, thou sand-brained jackanapes!

JESS: Command thy men to leave off hunting him.

STIL: They’ve stopped, and he’s away as you did wish.
Great gods below, why said you not you fought
And with the weirding way at your command?

JESS: Command thy men to come into the light
And know I know how many that there are.

STIL: If I refuse? You cannot kill them all.
But we’ll not harm you now, God’s teeth! If you
Can do this to our strongest, thou art worth
Ten times thy weight of water, sure enough!

JESS: And you ask after the Lisan al-Gaib

STIL: You claim to be the legend-folk? Perhaps.
I’ll that believe when we’ve seen proof of it.
All I now know is that ye came to Dune
With him who was Atreides’ foolish Duke.
Twist on! And break my neck off at the root
If you mislike the truth I tell you. Brave
And honorable man he was indeed
But fool to stand before Harkonnen fist!

JESS: He’d not the choice, but we’ll not argue it.
But if we speak of fools, command thy man
Behind the bush that if he bears that iron
Whate’er it be upon me I shall rid
The universe of thee and take him next.

STIL: Do as she says!

FREMEN: Do Fremen take commands..?

STIL: From me you’ll take command, thou crawling worm!
Thou sand-brained piece of cast-off lizard dung!
You’ll do my will in this or we’ll compete
To see which of us first dismembers you!
Canst thou not see this woman’s worth to us?
(to JESS) He hath obeyed. Now let us make an end.

JESS: Now tell thy people clearly of thy plan
For me to lend my strength to all thy tribe
So no young hothead can mistake thy mind
And think to do thee service by my death.

STIL: When we do scout the towns and villages
We must disguise ourselves, and blend with them,
The folk of pan and graben, and we bear
No weapons, for the crysknife sacred is.
But this, the weirding way of war no search
Could ferret out, and you a Fremen armed
Did master, being helpless on the sands.

JESS: And if I teach you in the weirding way?

STIL: My countenance for you and for your son.

JESS: How know I you will keep this promise made
Beneath the knife I wield of thine own bones?

STIL: This is Arrakis; here we make no vows
At evening to be broken in the dawn
Nor carry scrip for contracts. When a man
Doth say a thing, the contract is then made.
As leader of my people, I have sworn
Your water shall with ours be mingled when
You teach us of your ways, so long we live.

JESS: Can you bind all the Fremen with thy word?

STIL: In time I may but only Liet speaks
For all the Fremen, I has brother swear
That we’ll not speak to any other tribe
Of you. Harkonnen says thou and thy son
Have perished in a mother storm and seek
The dead no more upon the desert sands.

JESS: A great reward was offered for our blood.

STIL: You trust my word or not, but what could gold
From foul Harkonnen buy? Our freedom? Hah!
You are taqwa, the thing that buys us more
Than all the gold Harkonnen hath to give.
Wilt thou release me now, or must I die?

JESS (aside): Now I must make the test and die for Paul
If this man prove the liar that he may.

(releases him)

STIL: Hunt not the boy, he’ll presently return.

CHANI: But Stil, he can no farther gone than…

STIL: Chani, leave him be, thou lizard-spawn!
Come, all of you, come in. I now should ask
How we shall know thy word is good. ‘Tis you
Who’ve lived a life by cunning paper vows
That lie in twisting words of honor void.

JESS: The Bene Gesserit break not their vows.

FREMEN: A Bene Gesserit! Behold, a witch!
The legend walks among us.

STIL: It was said
The Shadout Mapes gave this report of you.
But must put it to the test, if thou
Be seeress whose son shall lead our folk
To paradise, we’ll know if it in time.

JESS (aside): The Protectiva hath its work done well
To shelter us beneath religion’s cloak.
(aloud) The seeress who brought you faith did bind
Herself by ijaz and karama both
The miracle and prophecy. What sign
Shall I give unto you to know us true?

STIL: We cannot tarry here to do the rites.

JESS: Perhaps at Tabr Sietch, we’ll have the time.

STIL (awed): We go. Now boy, come down. We’ll harm thee not.
Your son made much noise climbing. He’s a deal
To learn so that he hazards not us all.

JESS: And you should see to him who is your man:
My noisy son disarmed him roughly.

STIL: Where?

JESS: Beyond the bushes.

STIL: Jamis. E’en thy cub
Doth know the weirding way to fight a man.

JESS: And discipline. He takes thy orders not.
(to Paul) You may come down. This folk will be our friends.

PAUL rises from hiding. CHANI rises beside him.

CHANI: I am Chani, and I swear to thee
As Liet’s daughter I would not permit
Thy harm to my companions. Come with me.

PAUL (aside): O she is of the visions I did have
On Caladan, upon the eve we left.
I told the Reverend Mother I should know
This girl, who like an angel hath appeared.

STILGAR takes PAUL’s weapon

STIL: You’ll earn a maula pistol of your own.

JESS: My son hath weapons fit to serve his needs.

STIL: Chani, keep this child-man out of harm.

CHANI: Come child-man.

PAUL: My name is Paul, and you…

STIL: You’ll have a name of us upon the test
Of aql, in the time of the mihna.

JESS: My son’s been tested with the gom jabbar!

STIL: We’ve much to learn yet, each from th’other’s ways.
But we must not be caught within the day.
Take extra care, Larrus, Farrukh, to hide
Our tracks. We’ve those with us who’ve not been trained.
In squads with flankers set, move out, for we
Must reach the Cave of Ridges ‘ere the dawn.

Exeunt