William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act IV, Scene vi.

Cave Of Birds.


PAUL: Which men of thine have forfeited thy trust?

GURN: Recruits from offworld, made from sterner stuff
Than common fortune-seekers that appear
And vanish from our ranks like desert dew.

PAUL Harkonnen spies?

GURN:                                    Nay, no Harkonnen born
Is like to these, whose sweat and aspect rude
Concealeth proud disdain and minds me of
Salusa Second’s denizens, forsooth.

PAUL: The Sardaukar?

GURN:                                    If so, they hide it well.
Where are my crew?

PAUL:                        Below these very rocks
Awaiting our decision and their fates.


KORBA: Hail, Muad’Dib! Your Fedaykin return!

GURN: Muad’Dib? Art thou Muad’Dib, the will o’sand?
Lisan al-Gaib, who takes the skins of foes
To make his drumheads, and is swarmed about
By men who kill and die upon his word?

PAUL: It is my Fremen name. We’ll seal the cave.
Now Korba, what’s thy burden? Have it out.

STIL: A baliset, and monogrammed withal
By letters of the name of thine old friend
Whose prowess on the baliset is known.

GURN: A man of parts you have within your train
I thank you Stilgar, for this courtesy.

STIL: Thank thy Lord the Duke. His countenance
Is all that lets thee see this place and live.

PAUL: I’d have ye friends, as you are friends with me.

GURN: The name of Stilgar of the Fremen is
A name of honor and renown indeed.
Who slays Harkonnens, him I count my friend.

PAUL: Will you clasp hands with Gurney Halleck, Stilgar?

STIL: Few know not the name of Gurney Halleck.

Exit STILGAR, carrying CHANI
FREMEN gradually defeat SMUGGLERS, who retreat in threes. ARAMSHAM throws knife at PAUL, which GURNEY retrieves.
All but three SMUGGLERS die.

PAUL: Hold! Put up your swords at my command.
I, Paul Atreides, Duke, command you peace!

Fighting stops. Enter STILGAR and CHANI

PAUL: You Sardaukar, who dress in smugglers’ weeds
Who ordered ye assassinate a Duke
That rules a fief His Majesty did grant?

ARAM: Who saith, sirrah, that we are Sardaukar?

PAUL: This blade doth name you Sardaukar, whose eyes
Do glitter from the lion at its hilt
And bound with yellow coils Imperial.

ARAM: And who doth style thee a ruling Duke?

PAUL: The men defeating thee do style me Duke
Atreides, that thine Emperor did grant
Arrakis’ fief, and I am House Atreides.
Korba, how came these by weapons here?

KORBA: In cunning stillsuit pockets they bore knives
And drew them when we thought them all disarmed.

PAUL: How many Sardaukar came here with us?

GURN: I see all ten of those I did suspect.

PAUL: How many of us have they slain today?

KORBA: Four have wounds, and two are even slain.

PAUL: What is thy name?  Your orders were to seek,
‘Tis plain enough, the Fremen named Muad’Dib
To slay him. And have found more than Muad’Dib.
Of thine lie seven, and of ours but two
Dead on this cavern floor. The Sardukar
Have met at last their equals, and I asked
Your name. I do command thee: give thy name!

ARAM: Aramsham, Captain of the Sardaukar!

PAUL: Thy countenance is like an open book:
You were the one among these smugglers
Who did suggest to hunt the spice so deep
In desert sands that you might find me here.
Wouldst trade thy soul to know the ways of Voice
That pried thy name from out thy lips against
Thy will. And had Harkonnens yet their souls
They’d barter them again for what thou knowest.
And more to thee than this, the Emperor:
What would he give to know Atreides’ House
Lives on despite his shameful treachery?
Submit, O Sardaukar, and do what none
Of ye hath done since House Corrino rose.

A SARDAUKAR attacks PAUL. ARAMSHAM kills him with his knife.

ARAM: I decide how we shall serve our Lord.
The Padishah. I say we shall submit.
And I have slain a friend for you. Remember.

PAUL: You are my prisoners. Your lives and deaths
Lie in my hand, of lesser weight than dust.

He gestures. Two FREMEN take ARAMSHAM and SARDAUKAR away. All four exit.

KORBA: Muad’Dib, I failed thee in this, my charge.

PAUL: The fault was mine. I should have cautioned thee.
When searching Sardaukar, remember this.
Remember too, that each hath on himself
False teeth and nails, that may conceal arms,
Components of transmitters. Shigawire
They carry in their hair in coils so fine
They scarcely can be told from hairs themselves.
And yet they can decapitate a man
With these garrotes. With Sardaukar you must
By cunning and by rays examine them.
And when you’ve done so, know for certain that
You have not yet disarmed them to the full.

KORBA: Should we not rather kill them, Muad’Dib?

PAUL: Nay. For I do wish them to escape.

GURN: God’s Blood! My lord, thy man’s the right of it!
You’ve shamed Imperial Sardaukar, now kill
Them ere the Emperor has word of it!
Or he’ll not rest until he has thy corpse
Displayed for the Imperium to see!
Kill them now and burn their flesh to ash!

PAUL: The Emperor’s not like to have the pow’r
To show my corse, nor see it reft of life.
Gurney: are there Guildsmen ‘round Rabban?

GURN: Is my lord well? Your question makes no sense.

PAUL: But answer it; waste not my time of thought.

GURN: They crawl upon Arrakis as the ants
Upon an apple core upon the ground
And buy the spice as t’were the preciousest
Of things within the universe. And is.

PAUL: To them, it is. And we control the spice.

GURN: Harkonnen doth control the poxy spice!

PAUL: Who can destroy a thing, controlleth it.
O Stilgar, thou who for the tribe dost live.
Take thou this knife. Couldst thou with its bare blade
Draw out my blood and slay me on the floor?

STIL: Aye. For Tabr Sietch I would so do.

PAUL: Then use that knife.

STIL:                                       Do you now call me out?

PAUL: If I do call thee out, I’ll stand disarmed
And let thee spill my blood, to die the death.
Thou, Stilgar, art a fighting man, and yet
When we did fight the Sardaukar, thou wast
Not in the heat of battle to be found
But Chani spirited away from harm.

STIL: She is my niece. If harm had come to her…

PAUL: Why was thy thought of Chani, fighting man?

STIL: T’was not. It was of you. She is your woman.

PAUL: And do you think you could against me stand?

STIL: It is the way of things upon the sands.

PAUL: “It is the way of things upon the sands”
To kill the offworld strangers found in them
And take their water as it were a gift
From Shai-Hulud, yet you permitted two
One night to live: my mother and myself.
We change the sands: why change we not their ways?
Are planets made of softer stuff than men?
We change in wisdom’s season: you have changed
The ways of men yourself, and found it good.
When I am Duke in Arrakeen again
With Chani by my side and rule this world
Shall I concern myself with governing
Sietch Tabr? And do you, Stilgar, plague yourself
To govern every family it holds?
Shall I take up my knife and amputate
My strongest arm because it is the way?
Shall I cut off thy wisdom and thy strength
For no more cause than that it is the way?

STIL: The young man of my tribe whose name is known
To me I might slay on the challenge floor.
Lisan al-Gaib I could not harm, as thou
Didst know before thou gavest me this knife.
Ways change. And who shall be the judge of change?

PAUL: Chani, fetch my mother, that her redes
Shall be to us available in council.

CHANI: You said we would go south, to see the trees.

PAUL: I was in error. There is not the war.
There are not Harkonnens we must kill.
Now take a message for her ears alone
That Stilgar will acknowledge me for Duke
Of all Arrakis, but we must persuade
The younger men to recognize that bond
Without the need to spill our blood in such
A wise that serves our enemies alone.

STIL: Go to. Against his blade I could not stand.

CHANI: With thy lady mother I return
Like tales of rivers I have never seen.

PAUL: Nay, send her. Stilgar hath the right of it.
For I am stronger when I know thee safe.
Sihaya, secret spring who gives me life.

exit CHANI. FREMEN, KORBA and STILGAR clear bodies and exit.

GURN: Your mother! Then she lives? What news is this?

PAUL: Upon the night that House Atreides fell
Good Duncan Idaho did save us both.

GURN: Then Duncan, too, is living, and with thee?

PAUL: Alas, he bought our flight with blade and life
Together given to the Sardaukar.
He’ll have no glory of that desperate night
Excepting in mine own remembrances
Yet of this day they’ll say I slew a score
Of Sardaukar, when ne’er my hand drew blade.
The good men do will vanish when they die.
But ever shines a legendary lie.


GURN: The she-witch lives, the authoress of all
Our agony and loss, who feigned to love
Her lord and son, while those that she betrayed
Are bones in graves forgotten. Die she shall
Or I am no Atreides faithful man.
Yet Paul must know, before I end her life
And send her soul to hell to warm the shades
Of better men than I what she hath done.
That fear alone doth hold my hand, to think
That he might think her faithful in her death.
She will confess it with her dying breath.