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

Sietch Tabr.


JESSICA hands PAUL a message cylinder

JESS: The time is come.

OTHE:                                    Muad’Dib, the time is come
To challenge him, or be thought recreant.

PAUL: Who names me coward? Let him briefly speak.
We have a work to do. Let none forget.

PAUL leaps to the dais

FREMEN 1: Do it!

PAUL: Of waiting ye have had your fill, ‘tis plain
And think it time to see the ritual
Of challenge played before your thirsty eyes:
That I should in the ways of blood take charge
Call Stilgar out, and take his leadership.
Do ye take the Lisan al-Gaib for fool?

FREMEN 2: It is the way!

PAUL:                                     Ways and men do change.

FREMEN 1: What ways shall change are ours to say!

PAUL:                                                                                     So be it!
Then you shall say. But firstly I shall speak.

STIL: That, too, is of our way. For Paul Muad’Dib
A Fremen is, and in this council room
The voice of any Fremen may be heard.

PAUL: The tribal good. This is our guiding star?

STIL: Our steps are guided thus, and so we live.

PAUL: Then who doth rule this troop, our fighting tribe?
And who doth rule the tribes that we have taught
And counseled in the weirding ways of war?
Doth Stilgar rule all this? He saith not so.
But do I rule? E’en Stilgar follows me
As war demands: the wisest of the wise
Do hear me, and in Council do me honor.
Then doth my mother rule, who leads in Council?
Stilgar and the men who lead their tribes
Seek wisdom of her, that they rightly judge
Their actions, but doth she, a Reverend Mother
Walk the sand, or spill Harkonnen blood?
And still ye recognize no leadership
Without the challenge answered in blood?

FREMEN 2: That is the way!

PAUL:                                     The way to what and where?
What is our destination, by the stars?
To slay Rabban, Harkonnen beast, and take
Our planet for ourselves, to harvest up
The treasure of the sands, and spill its wealth
As water such as makes this world a garden
Green and welcoming for those unborn?

FREMEN 3: A hard task needs a harder way, by God!

PAUL: Do ye break your crysknives ere ye fight?
For true I say, and not as if in boast
No man of ye can stand against my blade
In single combat. Stilgar hath confessed
As much to me, and ye do know it true.
Who meets me on the practice floor doth learn
The truth of it, and I’d be twice the fool
Of any not to see it for myself.
I trained with masters tougher than this world
And at a younger age than ye can know:
How think ye I could Jamis slay so young
When boys of yours fight but with blunted blades?
And so we come to this, a message sent
To Beast Rabban, and ta’en in battle from
A courier Harkonnen, saying thus:
“Thy reinforcements asked for are denied.
Thy quotas lie unfilled, the troops thou hast
Are more than adequate to do thy task.”
Who seeth what this means to us? My chief
And right hand Stilgar saw it instanter!

FREMEN 1: Harkonnen is cut off!

FREMEN 2:                                        He bleeds to death!

PAUL: This was my father’s ducal signet ring
I swore to never wear until that day
When I with armed might should be prepared
To claim Arrakis as my rightful fief
And let what power dare oppose me gird
Itself for war against our righteous cause.
Who rules upon Arrakis? It is I!
I rule it in the Emperor’s despite
Or with his mandate: he it was who gave
It to my father, and I comes to me
Borne on my father’s blood, as much mine own.
When I do claim mine own Imperial rights
There stand here men who under me shall rule
As stones support a castle on a cliff
And Stilgar shall be one. Is any man
So blinded as to think this oath a plea,
Or payment offered groveling to him?
Nor should you think it gratitude, though I
And many here beside do owe him life
As honorable men must owe and pay
Who fight a common foe, but this means naught
Except that Stilgar’s wisdom and his strength
Doth govern all his people, not by ways
And blindly-followed rules half-understood.
Shall I then for you make myself a fool?
Shall I my right hand challenge to the death
And cut it off, and laugh at its defeat
And maimed before you triumph celebrate
As if I had thus done a worthy deed?
Now answer me! What man is in this place
That says I rule this planet not by right?
Must I so prove by killing every man
Who leads a tribe in war to prove my strength?
Shall I such worthy men destroy at will
Whom all our foes cannot destroy at need?
What man does this? What tyrant? What mad king
Should slay his warriors thus? Forbid it God!
If slay we must then let us slay our foes:
Harkonnen’s Beast, and all who follow him!

STIL: Long live Duke Paul Muad’Dib, and damn his foes!

FREMEN: Ya hya chouhada! Muad’Dib! Muad’Dib!
Long live the fighters of Paul Muad-Dib!
Ya hya chouhada!

PAUL: Now, Stilgar, kneel, and give thy crysknife here.

STILGAR kneels

PAUL: Repeat these words: I, Stilgar, take this knife.

STIL: I, Stilgar, take this knife.

PAUL: From hands of him who is my rightful Duke.

STIL: From hands of him who is my rightful Duke.

PAUL: Where he commands, there shall I place its blade.

STIL: Where he commands, there shall I place its blade.

PAUL: I dedicate this blade unto his cause
And to the death of all his enemies
As long as blood shall flow: his, theirs and mine.

STIL: I dedicate this blade unto his cause
And to the death of all his enemies
As long as blood shall flow: his, theirs and mine.

PAUL: Kiss now the blade, and take it from my hand.

STILGAR kisses the blade, PAUL’s right arm, and rises, sheathing knife.

FREMEN 3: The prophecy: A Bene Gesserit
Shall show the way. She shows us through her son!
And is herself the Reverend Mother who
Shall witness it: the one who points the way!

PAUL: This tribe is led by Stilgar, let no man
Or fool mistake it: what he doth command,
It is as though I have commanded it.
Now, summon the Fedaykin to my rooms
That we may plan a victory to show
The Leaders’ Council when they do arrive.
And send cielagos, calling them to meet.
You, mother, to my chambers. Wait therein.

Exeunt Omnes