William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act V, Scene iii.

Act V, Scene iii.

The Imperial selamlik
The Audience Chamber




HERALDS: For His Imperial Majesty make way!
Make way: the Royal Personage is come.

Enter PAGES bearing his throne.
SHADDAM is seated, with REVEREND MOTHER behind him.

SHAD: My Baron of Harkonnen, dear to me.

HAR: Your Majesty. I at your summons came.

REV: Summons! Like a demon impotent!

SHAD: Becalm yourself. Now, tell me, Baron, whence
Thy minion Thufir Hawat thou hast sent.

HAR: He is these five days gone, your Majesty.
He was to smuggle him within a base
And thence to infiltrate to this Muad’Dib,
Fanatic whose unrest infects this world.

REVEREND MOTHER whispers to him.

SHAD: Incredible. Five days and yet no word.
And thou art not at this, his silence, worried?

HAR:  O I do worry, Majesty, and yet
Am worried not by thoughts he might defect.
For even now, Haway must worried be
By my design: a latent poison set
Within his veins that daily must he take
The antidote against, or surely die.
And he, being gone, must soon be gone indeed,
For that he no such cataplasm hath.

SHAD: How very clever. Where are now those boys
Who stand to thee as sons, and do appear
Through thick and thin to stand within thy rule?
Feyd-Rautha and Rabban: where are they gone?

HAR: They to inspect the watch I did dispatch.

SHAD: The watch for what? The Fremen in the hills?
I have with me five legions, Sardaukar
And bred to battle. Such need we not fear.
Or do they guard us from what wind and sand
Shall from this storm creep o’er the Shield Wall?
Hast turned thy nephews ratcatchers for Us?

HAR: Nay, Majesty, but on the side of caution
E’en error may be blessed, and censured not.

SHAD: O, “censured not?” Then thou wouldst bind my tongue
And bid me not to speak of wasted time?
The time that this ridiculous affair
This nonsense on Arrakis hath me cost?
The treasure pouring down this rat-hole world
That thy misgovernment hath spilled like sand?
Th’affairs of state delayed and disarrayed
Because thou canst this rabble not contain?
Hast thou not even taken hostages?

HAR: That have we tried, for all the use it be:
These Fremen maddened by the sun care not
And hold a funeral for each we take
As though our prisoners had died indeed.

SHAD: And so? Perhaps you know not how to take
Men hostage, and take folk of small account.

HAR (aside): He knows somewhat. How hath he come by it?

SHAD: I would fain know who this Muad’Dib could be.

HAR: One of the Umma, surely, who like weeds
Upon the fringes of the civilized
And barren worlds sometime do spring up,
As your most sapient Majesty doth know.

SHAD: And you know nothing else of this Muad’Dib?

HAR: A madman leading Fremen mad as he?

SHAD: An’ this be madness, there is method in’t.
His madness overthrows thy sanity.

HAR: His people scream his name as they attack!
Their women hurl their infants at our troops
And die upon their blades so that their men
May have a road to strike us! They’ve no souls!

SHAD: As bad as that, poor Baron, sorely pressed.
Now answer: hast thou to the southern poles
Of this Arrakis, which is thine own fief
Sent any man to search its mysteries?

HAR: Your Majesty, you know as well as I
That there the trackless desert open stands
To wind and worm, devoid of life or spice
And not by any man to be traversed.

SHAD: You’ve had no word from those who pilot ships
The spice lighters, that greenery appears
Upon this barren southern wilderness?

HAR: Such tales indeed are told, and long ago
They were investigated. Plants were seen,
But none in number. Ornithopters sent
Were lost as like as not, and to conclude
The whole were too expensive to continue.


The EMPEROR gestures. Enter ALIA, escorted by two SARDAUKAR.

ALIA: Lo, here he is: and strange to see a man
Of so much mass, and yet so little matter.
Too weak to bear his flesh himself without
Suspensors ill-concealed within his dress.

SHAD: Dear Baron, be acquainted with this child:
The sister of the man you call Muad’Dib.

HAR: Is’t mannikin or dwarf? What jape is this?

SHAD: I too sometime do err in caution’s name
And have had word that thy south polar climes
Thou call’st unpeopled did bear signs of life.

HAR: Impossible! There’s naught but sand and worms.

SHAD: These people do not fear the worms, it seems.
Alas, I sent a force too lightly armed
Five carriers of men, and they escaped
With but three captives, and one carrier.
Yea, mark you, Baron, that my Sardaukar
Were by old men and women and their whelps
Almost completely overwhelmed, and this
This child commanded one of their brigades.

HAR: You see, your Majesty, how savage they!

ALIA: I did surrender to the Sardaukar
The which was better than to have to tell
My brother than his son was murthered there.

SHAD: A handful of our men did ‘scape this slaughter
Escaped, you hear? From desert “savages.”

ALIA: And them we’d too have had, but for the flames.

SHAD: My Sardaukar, as they did flee within
Their sole remaining carrier, employed
Their steering jets as flamethrowers, a move
As desperate as courage is, betimes.
And this secured their captives and themselves.
My Sardaukar, thus forced to flee in shame
Before a force of women and old men!

HAR: We must attack in force, destroy them all!

SHAD: Be silent! Mock my intellect no more!
Thou standest like a puppet, gibbering,
Pretending innocence—

REV:                           O Majesty—

SHAD: Pretending to know naught of human acts
That change the very surface of this world
Nor of the fighting acumen of these,
The very folk thou sayest thou hast fought?
What fool dost thou pretend bestrides this throne?
Or darest thou pretend to it as well?
Thou art a great pretender: e’en the feud
With Leto of Atreides thou didst sham
And that so well that all were taken in.

HAR: Your Majesty, I must protest—
SHAD:                                                            Be silent!


ALIA: Do frighten him some more, Shaddam, for though
‘Tis vulgar to enjoy the spectacle,
My sadness by his fear is quite o’erthrown.

SHAD: Be quiet, child. Baron, is this true?
Art thou so simpleminded as her grace
The Truthsayer doth tell me. Know’st thou not
The daughter of thy friend, Atreides’ duke?

ALIA: My father never was his friend, nor deigned
To be his ally. He is dead and this
Harkonnen beast hath ne’er my likeness seen.

HAR: Who art thou then, whose voice so like a child’s
Yet not, doth freeze and harrow up the blood?

ALIA: I am Alia, the daughter of
Duke Leto and the Lady Jessica
And sister of Duke Paul Muad’Dib, who hath
But lately sworn to place thy head atop
His battle standard, as I think he shall.

SHAD: Be hish’t now, child.

ALIA:                                      I do not take command
Nor orders from the mouth of th’Emperor
But ask thy Truthsayer: she knoweth well.

SHAD: What means this vast impertinence of speech?

REV: That child is an abomination and
Her mother hath a greater punishment
Than any malefactor yet deserved:
To die the death! It cannot come too swift
Upon that child, or she who gave it birth.
Aroint thee from the chambers of my mind!

SHAD: Telepathy? Great Mother, what is this?

REV: T’is not, O Majesty, but like the ones
Who came before, who gave their memories
To me, she dwells within my inmost mind,
Which cannot be, yet is! O give me peace!

SHAD: Who gave you memories? What nonsense this?

REV: Too much I’ve said of things that secret be,
But this remains: this child who is no child
Must be destroyed. Long ages we were warned
The birth of such a one to ne’er permit.
But she who was our own hath us betrayed.

ALIA: Old woman, thou dost babble like a fool
You know not how it was, yet rattle on.
Know now the truth of how I came to life.


ALIA: For that is how it was and is to be
The horror and the wonder of myself.

SHAD: What is this sorcery? Child, answer true.
Can you project your thoughts into the mind
Of any other man. How distant, then?

ALIA: It is no such a thing: unless I be
Born as you are, I cannot think as you.

REV: O kill her now! Kill her and cleanse the world.

SHAD: Be silent, madame. Can you, child, commune
With him who is your brother from this place?

ALIA: My brother knows indeed that I am here.

SHAD: And can you tell him I shall grant your life
In ‘change for his surrender to my will?

ALIA: But that I shall not do.

HAR:                                       Your Majesty,
You must believe I never knew a breath—

SHAD: An’ thou durst interrupt my thoughts again
O Baron, thou shalt interrupt no man
Again forever. Shall not, so you say?
And can you read within my mind the cost
Of disobeying me upon this matter?

ALIA: Already I have said I read no minds
And no such power need to know your purpose.

SHAD: Your cause, O child is lost, and hath no hope.
My forces can reduce this world to ash.

ALIA: So simple is it not. Ask them who speak
And wear the livery of your Spacing Guild.

SHAD: To stand against the Emperor within
His citadel is foolish. Thou shouldst not
The least of my desires dare to spurn.

ALIA: Now is my brother come, and at the shock
Of his approaching feet, a world may quake
And e’en an Emperor may learn to fear
Muad’Dib, who hath the strength of righteousness
And walketh in the light of heaven’s sun.

SHAD: This mummery is done! I shall this world
Grind down beneath my heel unto the dust
Until thy brother’s blood so mix’t within
Is lost to sight and human memory.

Explosions and a fall of sand within.

ALIA: Lo, as I told you: ‘Ware my brother’s coming.

SHAD: Prepare to launch our fleet again to space!
From thence we shall reform and burn this world.
Your pardon, Baron: you’d the right of it.
These madmen strike us from within the storm.
Then, they shall feel the wrath of Emperors
Now give this child unto the howling winds.

ALIA: O let the storm have but what it can take.

The BARON seizes her.

BAR: I have her, Majesty. Shall I dispatch..?

ALIA stabs BARON with a needle.

ALIA: Thy pardon, grandfather, but thou hast met
Atreides’ gom jabbar, and failed its test.
With ne’er a pleasure couldst thou e’er contend,
Thus pain hath found thee, and becomes thine end.

BARON dies.

SHAD: Aboard the ship! We go to purge this world
Of every double-moonstruck fool of them.

Explosions and sparks.

SARDAUKAR: Our outer shield is down! It is the storm!

Artillery fire and wind.

OFFICER: Their bursting shells have torn the nose from off
Our ship, and we dare not attempt a launch!

SHAD: Into the ship! Its hull shall be our keep,
And we shall make our stand upon this ground!

EMPEROR SHADDAM IV and SARDAUKAR gird themselves for combat.

Outer hutment falls. Beyond, FREMEN, upon sandworms, riding to the assault.

Enter FREMEN, and SARDAUKAR, joining battle.

SARDAUKAR: Our duty is your life, O Majesty!
Now save thee and remember us, thy shield!

Exeunt FREMEN and SARDAUKAR, fighting.