William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act III, Scene viii

The Cave Of Ridges


STILGAR: Lo, Sayyadina, look you through this crack
Within the wall and you shall see afar
Our home where we shall spend the coming night.

JESS: Your people show good discipline, i’faith.

STIL: We choose our leaders so, the strongest he
Who bringeth water and security.

JESS: And have I weakened that by besting you?

STIL: You did not call me out to face your blade.

JESS: A leader must retain his folk’s respect.

STIL: When you did best me, you did best us all,
For I could best all these, as they do know.
They hope to learn the weirding way from you
And some do wonder of you’ll call me out,
And challenge me in formal dueling.
But even so, they would not follow you
Because you are no woman of the sands
And that they saw this night as we did walk.
They think not deeply as we near our home
For we have overlong been on the sands
Delivering to the accursed Guild
Our quota of the spice, to keep them fat.

JESS: What business have you with the Spacing Guild?

STIL: At Liet’s order we do pay the Guild
A monstrous bribe to keep our vasty skies
Of weather satellites and sensors clear
That none may see what we in secret work
Upon the subtly changing face of Dune.

JESS: What must none see that ye upon the face
Of this Arrakis do in secret work?

STIL: We change it as the sand doth shape the rock
We shall not see it, nor our children, nor
Their children’s grandchildren, yet comes the dawn
Of open water and the fields of green,
And people without stillsuits walking them.

JESS: Yet bribes do grow, and faster than do weeds.

STIL: They grow, but slow is safest in the end.
And now we must return, lest some suspect
That we but dally here. Some envy me
That I did taste thy loveliness withal
When we did wrestle in the basin shade.

JESS: Such filth upon thy lips befits thee not.

STIL: Take no offense. No woman’s ta’en contrary to her will
And none could so take thee in any case.

JESS: Recall I was the lady of a Duke.

STIL: As thou dost wish. If you do teach your way
Of battle to us, then the day may dawn
When we must for the leader’s place contend
And I would seek alternative to that.

JESS: And is there more than one alternative?

STIL: The Sayyadina. Ours is waxen old
The Reverend Mother seeks her spirit-home.
I do not now proffer myself as mate
Though for myself I would desire thee.
But if you did become a wife of mine
Some youngsters may believe I seek to wield
A softer blade than that which doth sustain
The fighting spirit that protects the tribe.
E’en now they listen to us, and they watch.
I would not slay among them but at need
And I would ease the wildness of their hearts
Lest they should seek to challenge me in this.
A people has its leaders. Mobs have none,
And these young fools tomorrow’s leaders are
As once was I. I would not slay them now.
Though law that dictates combat as the means
Of taking leadership is just, ’tis not
A time for justice, but a time to grow
That we may be a force to shake our foes.

JESS: Good Stilgar, I did rank thy soul too low.

STIL: Such was my guess. I’d have you as a friend
That I might trust beyond th’accustomed bonds
That men and women must in wedlock forge.
The Sayyadina, when they do not lead
Maintain the strength of God within our hearts.
They teach, and are in honor highly held.

JESS: You spoke about your Reverend Mother and
Of legends with a prophecy. What then?

STIL: ‘Tis said a Bene Gesserit shall come
And with her children lead us to the light.

JESS: Do you believe I am that prophetess?

STIL: We do not know, nor know best how to know.

JESS (aside): This is the Panoply Propheticus
The Missionaria Protective sowed
To shelter us in time of need, that we
May pose as holy prophets, and so live
Yet someone not of us hath been at them
And used our cant for purpose of their own.
I must be boldly cautious with this sign.
(to FREMEN) Adab. Ibn Qirtaiba: From this spot
To that where ends the dust: I see a man
A Fremen with the book exemplary
He readeth to al-Lat, the sun, whom he
Did subjugate defiantly. He reads
The book unto the Sadus of the Trial
And so he readeth:

“Mine enemies are like green blades eaten down
That did stand in the path of the tempest
Hast thou not seen what our Lord did?
He sent the pestilence among them
That did lay schemes against us.
They are like the birds scattered by the huntsman.
Their schemes are like pellets of poison
That every mouth rejects.

FREMEN: Their works have been overturned.

JESS: The fire of God mount over thy heart.

FREMEN: The fire of God set alight.

JESS: Thine enemies shall fall.

FREMEN: Bi-lal kaifa.

STIL: O Sayyadina, if the Shai-Hulud
Do grant, you may yet pass within and be
A Reverend Mother, sent to bless our folk.

JESS (aside): Now stand I in the place that was prepared
By Bene Gesserit who prophesied
To these and made disciples who yet call
Their priestesses by Reverend Mothers’ name.

CHANI (to PAUL): Duy yakha hin mange. Duy punra hin mange.

PAUL (aside): What she hath fed me openeth my eyes.
With such a taste of spice as never I
Have had before, and I do see what comes
And what may come, within this future-now.
I must divide the future from the now
Lest I o’errun and change it ere it comes.
I see the futures branching from this cave
And seeing it, the futures change again
As I do change, and it in turn change me.
The consequences of each careless word
Each tiny gesture, shifts the future’s path.
The consequences fanning from this place
Are multitude, and in the most of them
I see my ending, death of all my life
Brought to my end upon a foeman’s knife.