William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act IV, Scene ii

Enter BARON HARKONNEN and THUFIR HAWAT with MESSENGER

BAR: Now speak to none, save Lord Rabban alone.
And get thee to the Heighliner that waits
‘Pon no man’s whim. Test not the Spacing Guild.

MESS: In everything, I do obey, dread Lord.

Exit MESSENGER

BAR: Now, Hawat, I have bent unto thy whim,
I say not that it idle was, for I
Do know thee better, but I’ll know thy mind
And more of it than thou hast deigned reveal
Of how the Emperor is in a tetch
About somewhat Salusa Second hath
To do with somewhat else, thou hast not said
Upon Arrakis, and the short of it
Is I’ll no longer be put off until
Some someone puts these somewhats and somewhere
With some more proper names that I may know
What in the devil’s name thou art about.

HAWAT (aside): Is he yet talking? God, of all the things
I long for in my lost Atreides lords
I think I miss their silences the most.
Duke Leto spoke with lifted eyebrow, and
His father could speak volumes in a word.
I could with but a single stroke restore
The blessed peace of silence to this globe
And be accounted mankind’s benefact
Did I but cut Harkonnen’s babbling throat.

BAR: Thou shalt not leave til thou hast told me all.

HAWAT: You do Salusa Secundus too light
And casually mention, O my lord.

BAR: It is a prison, there the worst are sent
Of scum who stain th’Imperial peace with crime.
What else need we to know about the place?

HAWAT: That six in ten of them that there are sent
Do perish in a year. The Emperor
Doth practice every wat t’oppress that’s known.
You hear all this, and ask what’s more to know?

BAR: The Emperor permits the Landsraad not
To look upon his prison planet, but
He’s not my dungeons seen, nor can I see
How it would profit him to see their cells.

HAWAT: And questions of Salusa Secundus
Are not encouraged. Quite the opposite.

BAR: A prison makes no lustrous jewel in
Th’Imperial scepter, that he’d have admired.

HAWAT: You ask what’s more to know, and never once
Have wondered where he breeds his Sardaukar?

BAR: This is no mystery. He doth recruit
And levies men from all the Houses Great…

HAWAT: What rumors conjure up this fever dream?
The exploits of the Sardaukar are known
And not by rumor, but by those sad few
Who fought the Sardaukar and lived. Too few
To think upon without to know the fear
That those dread legions strike in all men’s hearts.

BAR: The Sardaukar are mighty fighting men
But mine own legions surely could contend…

HAWAT: For twenty minutes’ time they’d hinder them
By bludgeoning their swords with their own flesh.
Think you I know not why the Emperor
Did turn against Atreides at the last?

BAR: That realm is not for you to contemplate.

HAWAT: What realm would you close to your Mentat’s mind
And cripple him in service to your will?

BAR: Say what you must, then, Mentat. Have a care.

HAWAT: The Padishah did turn against my lord
Because Halleck and Idaho, who stood
Warmasters to the Duke had trained for him
A force as potent as the Sardaukar.
And though the force was small, too small to blunt
The course of battle ‘pon Arrakeen Plain,
The Duke in time could have expanded it
And challenged e’en the Emperor to war.

BAR: What hath Arrakis aught to do with this?

HAWAT: It breeds a people trained to live in hell.

BAR: Thou canst not mean the Fremen!

HAWAT:                                                        Aye, the Fremen.

BAR: Then what have we to warn Rabban of? Mice?
There can of Fremen no more than a weak
And feeble smattering be left alive
Between Rabban’s oppression and the wrack
The Sardaukar did leave behind themselves.

HAWAT: O can there not?

BAR:                                       A smattering, I say.
Rabban last year six thousand did to death.

HAWAT: O did he?

BAR:                           And the year before it was
Nine thousand that he killed. The Sardaukar
Left twenty thousand more upon the sands.

HAWAT: And in those past two years, what hath Rabban
Paid for those fifteen thousand Fremen dead?

BAR: He hath, of late, recruited heavily
And had his agents offer goodly sums…

HAWAT: Say thirty thousand men hath Rabban spent.

BAR: Go to! That number’s high; ‘tis not so much.

HAWAT: It is. And though he tries to hide it, we
Have seen the same reports. You’re not a fool
To miss what he hath hidden twixt the lines.

BAR: Arrakis’ storms are fierce, and cause much loss.

HAWAT: That figure, as we both do know cannot
Account for thirty thousand missing men.

BAR: Go to, I say! What if he hath such loss?

HAWAT: Then by your own account he lost two men
For every Fremen killed, and I have seen
The manifests (for you did pay the cost)
Provided by the Spacing Guild to ship
The Sardaukar returning home from thence.
And if they, as you say, slew twenty thousand
They lost five men for one and called it triumph.
Why are you blind to what these figures mean?

BAR: This, Mentat, is thy job. What do they mean?

HAWAT: I gave you the report that Idaho
Did make upon the sietch he visited
Before Atreides fell. The figures march
With those I’ve laid before you even now.
With only fifty and two hundred such
Communities, they are five million strong.
By my best estimate, the Fremen have
Five hundred of them at the least. Such worlds
Must see their populace disperse or die.

BAR: Ten million Fremen, hidden in the sands?

HAWAT: Ten million at the least, Harkonnen lord.
We’ve yet to inconvenience them, and have
But culled their weaker specimens, to free
The strong to grow yet stronger, like a herd
Of cattle. Not one that we eat, but that
Which eateth us on ever larger plates.
As on Salusa Secundus as well.

BAR: Salusa Secundus again! What’s that
To do with this upon Arrakis’ orb?

HAWAT: A man that on Salusa doth survive
Begins as tougher than his fellow men,
And with the training that he’s forced to learn…

BAR: Ridiculous! By all the webs you spin
I could myself recruit them to my cause
Because Rabban hath driven them to death.

HAWAT: The Baron Harkonnen doth not oppress
His fighting men in any way at all?
Oppression hath its uses, e’en to those
Beneath its heel. Your soldiers wield prestige
As well as knives and shields and lord themselves
Above Harkonnen’s serfs and see that they
Could fall back into what they’ve risen from.

BAR: How could you gain the loyalty of such
Recruits of hellish worlds with naught to lose?

HAWAT: Ways and ways to do the thing are known:
I’d make of them a cadre, small at first
To train the rest in small a group as they
And fill them with the tale that they had been
Selected as a chosen race of men
Sprung from the chosen planet, sown to rise
As destined warriors, to crush the worlds
Of lesser men beneath their booted feet.
And while I told them this, would show them tastes
Of what such destined warriors might take
Unto themselves: the women and the gold
To build a dynasty in blood and steel.
And they in time would come to see their world
As not a curse, but as a cryptic gift
Because it had produced them, the elite
Who live almost as well as you, their lords.

BAR: ‘Tis something unimagined. But from where
Could such a dream of pow’r originate?

HAWAT: And whence Corrino’s house that in old days
Did raise the throne imperial above
Their compeers of the Landsraad? Were there men
Upon Salusa Second ere the throne
Sent prisoners to end their weary days
Upon its hellish surface? E’en the Duke
Atreides, who was cousin to his lord
Who slew him by your hand, a distaff son
Did never know. Such questions are not asked
Nor to be asked. Their silence is complete.

BAR: A secret kept in history’s eclipse.

HAWAT: A secret kept in light of broadest day!
What’s to be hid? That our good Emperor
Hath yea a prison planet? This is known.
That he doth have as well a deadly—

BAR:                                                               Fenring!

HAWAT: What of Count Fenring?

BAR:                                                   That popinjay
Imperial came to my nephew’s stint
In the arena, these two years ago
To seal a bargain twixt the throne and me.

HAWAT: Go on. What is the substance of this news?

BAR: I said a thing about Arrakis then
That I might it a prison planet make.

HAWAT: What did you, lord exactly say to him?

BAR: Exactly? It was years and years ago.

HAWAT: I must have information to advise
And good advice is built on news that’s good.
Was there no record kept of this discourse?

BAR: Thou art as bad as Piter, thou old nag.

HAWAT: I am no Piter. What befell him, then?

BAR: He did demand too much, became too free
In asking questions I disliked to hear!

HAWAT: You say you never waste a useful man,
And yet you waste my age with blust’ring threats.
We do discuss your words to Fenring, lord.

BAR: I said a thing. I think it was that he
And th’Emperor did know that in the course
Of business certain killings must be done.
I spoke of how Arrakis kills its men
And said the Emperor inspired me
To solve Arrakis’ problems as he did
Upon Salusa Secundus withal.

HAWAT: Witch blood! And what did Fenring say to this?

BAR: He did then question me concerning you.

HAWAT: Thus did their eyes upon Arrakis turn.
In two years’ time they will have sown their spies
Throughout the planet’s every grain of dust.

BAR: I did suggest but innocently that—

HAWAT: There is no innocence with Emperors!
What did you then instruct Rabban to do?

BAR: But that he should Arrakis teach to fear.

HAWAT: Two choices lie before you now: to kill
The natives off the planet, root and branch…

BAR: And waste the workers of a world entire?

HAWAT: Would you then, have the Emperor and those
Great Houses he doth yet command come here
To Giedi Prime and do a curettage
And scrape Harkonnen’s house from off its crust
Like mold from off a wormy, rotting cheese?

BAR: He would not dare!

HAWAT:                                O would he not, my lord?

BAR: What second choice hast thou to offer me.

HAWAT: Abandon your dear nephew, Beast Rabban.
Send no more troops. No aid of any kind.
Ignore his messages, reply but that
You’ve heard of his gross failure to enforce
The quotas and the laws you have laid down
And that you surely shall correct his sin.
I’ll see that the Imperial spies shall read
These messages and know them for the truth.

BAR: What of the spice? What of the revenue?

HAWAT: Demand your profits. Set a fixed sum.
You have your spies within his house, to know
If he doth make a true report or no.
Tell him he meets your quota or you shall
Replace him as the planet’s governor.

BAR: He’ll but oppress the people all the more.

HAWAT: But certainly! You cannot stop that now!
Rabban must drive the nails that crucify
This desert planet. You must wash your hands.
And all the while he’ll make your prison world
Salusa Secundus the second, yea.
He needs no prisoners, he hath Arrakis
Peopled by a people by a people only we
Suspect exist in numbers: Fremen scum.
And if Rabban doth drive them unto death
To meet your soaring quotas, then our lord
The Emperor shall not need to suspect
Another reason so to punish them.
And you, O Baron, shall not speak a word
Or show by any action that you have
Another motive for these monstrous deeds.

HAR: Ah, Hawat, thou art devious. But how
To make Harkonnen profit by the seeds
Of pain Rabban doth sow, and reap its strength?

HAWAT: The simplest thing of all: But set each year
The quota higher than the year before.
The more he drives the people unto death
To meet the rising quotas, then the less
He’ll able be to meet them, and you have
The reason to remove him and yourself
Relieve the people’s burdens, and therewith
Their love and loyalty you’ll surely win.

HAR: ‘Tis well. But I grow old and tire of this
And have another who shall take my place.

HAWAT: Feyd-Rautha. Aye. We’ll make an amalgam
Of these two schemes and send Feyd-Rautha on
As savior to the weary populace.

Exit BARON

HAWAT: O I do serve in hell, and wear the leash
Of demons, that I may one day revenge
Myself upon Shaitan upon the throne.
Would I could pray to God as easily
As Fremen do, upon Arrakis’ sands.
They have a prophet, so I hear anon
From Gurney Halleck, where he hides among
The smugglers of Arrakis. Doth he speak
Of heaven to those souls i’the desert’s hell?
I told the Baron to permit this faith.
Should I have done this? But to persecute
Religion’s known to spread it like a fire.
And they do fight for him, this Muad’Dib
With tactics that do mind me of
The skills of Halleck, and of Idaho
And even strikes I might have made myself
Had I been free. Could Idaho have ‘scaped
The holocaust that Bene Gess’rit witch
Devised that fateful night. How poisonous
Her hatred of Atreides must have been
To burn her only son upon its pyre.
As strong a hatred as mine own. Shall I
Be strong and devious enough to strike
A blow as final and complete as hers?

Exeunt