William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act III, Scene xiii

Sietch Tabr, the Gathering Hall. Evening.


STIL: Sayyadina, we have called your son
Out of his rest that he attend you. Do
You wish his counsel on your course?

JESS: And could he my decision change or halt?

STIL: Your breath is in your lungs, to freely speak.

JESS: Then my decision stands. The course runs true.

FREMEN MEN unroll carpets before JESSICA
Enter PAUL, escorted by KALEFF and ORLOP

PAUL: Now, mother, what’s the matter? I had thought
That I were called to council. ‘Tis not so.

Enter CHANI, followed by FREMEN WOMEN bearing REVEREND MOTHER RAMALLO in a litter. CHANI helps RAMALLO to her feet and brings her to JESSICA.

RAM: So thou art she, of whom the rumors speak.
The Shadout Mapes was right to pity thee.

JESS: I ask nor need no pity, by my troth.

RAM: That shall be seen in time. Now, Stilgar. Speak.
We are the people of the Misr, our folk
Nilotic al-Ourouba fled, and since
We have known flight and death. The young go on
That all our kin die not.

STIL:                          Hear now my words!
Tonight we leave our sietch and sojourn south
The Reverend Mother tells me she cannot
Endure another hajra. But that we
Shall not without a Reverend Mother be
While we do seek another home and lose
Her wisdom, Sayyadina Jessica
She of the Weirding hath unto the rite
Consented and shall pass within to be
A Reverend Mother, servant to us all.
That we shall not lose all if she should fail
We consecrate now Liet’s daughter here
To be the Sayyadina. Chani, come.

RAM: From her hajra Chani hath returned.
She hath seen the waters. She hath known.

FREMEN: She hath seen the waters and returned.

RAM: I consecrate her in the Sayyadina.

FREMEN: She is accepted. So we say amen.

RAM: And I, whose voice doth speak as multitude
Say it is fitting Chani entereth
The Sayyadina at this time for us.

FREMEN: It is fitting that she enter in.

RAM: To Sayyadina Chani I do give
The silver skies, the golden desert and
The fields of green that yet shall come to be.
Lest she forget she’s servant to us all
To her shall fall the menial tasks within
The Ceremony of the Seed. Let all
Now be as Shai-Hulud doth will. Amen.

CHA: Let watermasters come forth and approach.

Enter WATERMASTERS with sacks.
They deposit a spouted sack at CHANI’s feet.

CHA: Is there water?

WAT:                         Sayyadina, yea
But we cannot this water drink and live.

CHA: Is there seed?

WAT:                          Yea, there is the seed.

CHA: Then blessed is the water and its seed.

She lifts the sack.

CHA: Sayyadina Jessica hast thou
The blessed water tasted? You cannot
Have tasted it, for you from outworld are.
The crop was large. The maker is destroyed.

She unfastens the spout.

CHA: This is the water that is more than water.
The Living Water, Kan, that frees the soul.
If you be Reverend Mother, it shall open
The Universe to you. Let Shai-Hulud
Now judge, that all may see and know for true.

She offers it to JESSICA, who hesitates.
JESSICA sips, and CHANI squeezes the sack, forcing her to drink

CHA: Now drink the water off. A little death
Accepted is a worse than death itself.

JESSICA swallows, and all freeze but JESSICA

JESS: This is a drug they feed me like naught else
That e’er I tasted in my mortal life.
And time around me runneth to a halt.
Why is it so? ‘Twas said at school that some
The Reverend Mother test did not survive.
If I examine me to find the truth
And look within myself. Ay me! That place!
In th’eye o’the mind I see that place which we
Cannot endure to look upon. But soft!
The time is out of joint that I may save
My life from this too deadly drug I’m fed.
I see it dance within me, see the forms
The structures and atomic linkages
A chain of molecules, a protein strung
As if on golden wire. I know them all.
And if I with my mind do shift them thus:
Change oxygen for carbon, reattach
A linkage of the chain, a hydrogen
I shall create a catalyst to change
That which was death to beneficial use.

Time resumes. CHANI takes a drop of water from JESSICA’S lips and places it in the sack.
FREMEN place JESSICA and RAMALLO beside each other.

JESS: She takes the catalyst that I have made
To change the poison in the sack. But why?


GHO: Yes, it is I, the Reverend Mother. Hush.
You’ll have my memories soon. Now fight me not.
God’s wounds! You should have said you bore a child!
This rite shall change you both. You must be strong.
O Holy Mother, what have we then done?
Be grateful that your child shall be a girl.
A male would die within thy womb at this.
Now touch thy daughter as I do touch thee
And soothe her fear with utmost gentleness.
I feel her terror easing. Time compels
Me forward. I have much to give to thee.
I know not if thy daughter can accept
What she must see and yet retain her mind
But this must be: the needs of all the tribe
Are paramount. Be silent and accept!

JESS: I see her life. A life of lives of lives
She pours her memories into my mind
As water in a cup, in which I might
Were I but smaller drown, be swept away.
And all the memories of those whom she
In turn did take from those before her stand
Within them, like a tunnel to the past
With mem’ries lined. I scarcely comprehend
How vast this cave of wonders I am giv’n.

GHO: I have a long time waited. Take my life.


JESS: The water hath been blessed. Now mingle them
And let the change unto them all be shared
That all partake and in their turn be blessed.

CHANI and WATERMASTERS begin to serve the water to the FREMEN, who react with ecstasy.

JESS: I have met the Mother Reverend
Ramallo, who is gone but yet remains
Let her be remembered in the rite.

GHO: Let them have the pleasure of their drug
While thou and I explore each others’ minds
I feel myself becoming parts of thee.

JESS: I see this people’s history unroll
A corridor that reaches to the past
How Fremen were on Poritrin before
Th’Imperial raiders came, and took them slaves.
How they were seeded on a dozen worlds
Like human crops, and passed their stories on
Through whispers and forbidden songs until
They made them Reverend Mothers of their own
And on the planet Rossak found the drug
That let them pass these memories I have.
At last upon Arrakis they descried
The Living Water I have lately drunk
I see its source! A sandworm they have drowned
When it is small, and from its dying gasps
They harvest up the liquor of its death.


PAUL: Mother, what’s the matter? Art thou hurt?

JESS: Nay.

PAUL:             Is this all right for me to drink?
They say that I should drink this liquor off.
JESS: You may drink it, for it hath been changed.

STIL: Now we know that you cannot be false.

CHA: O drink the water.

STIL:                                      Drink. You halt the rite.

PAUL drinks.

Exeunt omnes but PAUL and CHANI

CHA: We are alike in this, that we have lost
Our fathers each unto Harkonnen rage.

PAUL: I know thee, Chani. We have sat upon
A ledge above the sands, where I have soothed
Thy fears and loved thee in the shadows of
The night within the sietch beneath the stars.
You are Sihaya, hidden desert spring.

CHA: When the tribe doth share the Water, I
Can feel the others with me. We are one.
But I do fear to share with thee, Usul.

PAUL: Say not so. What’s in me that frighteth thee?

CHA: I took thee from the others for their sake.
Your presence in our midst is like a storm
That brings not flaying sand, but blowing time.
I see a child in my arms, our child
How can I know your every flesh and bone?

PAUL: We cannot back into the future’s fold.

CHA: Help me, Usul. Guide me through the storm.

PAUL: This is the only peace, a road like wire
With Chani, that doth vanish in the storm
Of futures that I see, this fragile eye
Of happiness with her surrounded by
The hurricane galactic that doth rage
About this planet. Bene Gesserit
That scheme, the Guild that plots, Imperium
That screams its rule, held back by nothing more
Than Fremen huddled in a cave that clutch
Their dreams of life, the sleeping giant folk
That look to their Muad’Dib and poise themselves
To cry crusade across the universe.

CHA: You cry. You give your moisture, to whose dead.

PAUL: I give my water to ones not yet dead.

CHA: Then weep not; let them have their time of life.

PAUL: Sihaya!

CHA:               I no longer fear thy gaze.
For I see what you see in thy embrace.

PAUL: What hast thou seen? O tell me if you know.

CHA: I see us sharing love within the eye
Of storms. It is what we were meant to do.

PAUL: O stay with me and leave me not alone.

CHA: I always shall be with you. Fear no storm.