William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act III, Scene v.

Baron Harkonnen’s private chambers.

Enter Baron HARKONNEN and NEFUD.

NEF: O Baron, Those you sought and do you dread
The woman and the boy are surely dead.
O surely they are dead, to Hades sent
I have the full report: their lives are spent.

HAR (aside): This fool was deep within semuta’s charm
And hath, by such a clownish mode of speech
Had just the time to take the antidote.
We’ll see him sweat awhile, now he’s awake.
(to NEF) You’ve seen the bodies, bloodless on the sand?

NEF: Dread my Lord, they took a ‘thopter wing
And by our mighty forces were pursued
Until into a sandstorm’s maelstrom mouth
They dove, which nothing mortal could survive
And did not, for our own pursuing craft
Lost one of their companions in the chase.

HAR: You’ve seen the bodies, bled out on the sand?

NEF: My Lord, I…

HAR: Rattle armor like a toy
That any child might jangle at his play!
Why stand you there, thou oafish puppet-slave
And whisper “surely” as I were a drabe
Thou couldst by that name call, and feign thy love
As now thou feignest something to be sure
When it is not. Think you to fetch my praise
For this as if it were a stick cast off
To dogs, who better service give than thou?
Give thee yet more preferment, jackanapes?
(aside) I am surrounded by a throng of clods
And brutes as if Harkonnen’s mighty house
Were any farm. Behold the chicken-guard
He’d stoop to peck if I did scatter sand
Before him, telling him that it were grain.
(to NEF) Then Idaho did lead us to this prize?

NEF: Aye, Lord!

HAR: They thought to shelter with the Fremen?

HEF: Aye, Lord.

HAR: And is there more to this… report?

NEF: The Planetologist Imperial
Did join with Idaho suspiciously
And fled to where the boy and woman hid
And in the course of our pursuit, some part
Of those assigned to chase them were destroyed
When they did strike their lasguns on a shield.

HAR: How many did we lose?

NEF: Lord, I know not.

HAR: This Planetologist, this Kynes did play
A doubled game, to win on either side?

NEF: So would I stake my fortune and my name!

HAR: A wager matched with two fistfuls of sand.
Then have him killed. He tried to help my foes.

NEF: My Lord! He is the Emperor’s own man!

HAR: Then make it seem an accidental death!
Why stand you there as though you had no work?

NEF: My Lord, the Sardaukar have two who may
Of interest be to you: the Duke’s right hand,
His Master of Assassins ta’en in flight.

HAR: The Mentat Hawat? Can such things be true?

NEF: Mine eyes have seen him. Thufir Hawat felled
By stunner where he could not use his shield.
Zounds! What sport we’ll have with such as him!

HAR: This is a Mentat, not a thing to waste.
What says he of his manner of defeat?
How deeply hath he plumbed our hidden plans?

NEF: He hath not spoke except to say that he
Believeth Lady Jessica to be
The author of his downfall and his Duke’s

HAR: The Lady Jessica attracts his wrath?
So that one hit: the let him think she lives.
We’ll treat him kindly. Kindly as we can.
Say nothing of the doctor we suborned.
Aye, tell him Yueh died defending him
Who at our bidding Yueh did betray.
And let him think he’s seen the truth of things:
That Lady Jessica did him betray.

NEF: Aye, Lord, but what’s the profit in this farce?

HAR: Good Nefud, you know not the way to go
To yoke a Mentat. First you must control
The data he relies on. Fed false facts
The Mentat goeth on to false results.
Poor Hawat. Doth he want for food or drink?

NEF: He’s yet a prisoner of Sardaukar!

HAR: The Sardaukar and I both want a thing
And that is locked in Thufir Hawat’s mind.
But they are not as devious as I.
Remind the Sardaukar of my renown
In prying information from the brains
Of those who wish their secrets kept. Tell them
That I would question Kynes and Hawat both
And play them one against the other. Then
An “accident” shall happen, and the men
Being dead shall be no Sardaukar’s concern
But only Kynes will die: I’ll Hawat have
And treat him as the treasure that he is
But Hawat’s water you’ll with venom taint:
That cataplasm Piter once devised
Which once imbibed, can never be removed.
And in his food, the antidote you’ll place
And not withdraw it till I give the word.

NEF: You’d have me poison him to cure him, Lord?

HAR: Be not a fool: The Duke hath Piter killed,
When he exhaled that damnéd poison gas.
And I a Mentat need to take his place.

NEF: And you would Hawat use: Atreides man?
My Lord should rather sleep upon a knife
And drink a poison cordial t’ease his pain!

HAR: Atreides’ man, you say? Atreides died
With reason muffled by emotions clouds
And thus, we’ll tell him, heeded not the redes
Poor Hawat warned him of, but rather loved
the witch by whose betraying hand he died.
And thus we’ll Thufir Hawat woo to us.

NEF: Was ever Mentat in such humor woo’d?
Was ever Mentat in such humor won?

HAR:We’ll tell him that his master was too poor
Bereft of wealth to pay the spies that grant
A Mentat the intelligence to use
Th’unclouded mind that he doth venerate
And strive to generate out of his flesh.
The truth in this good Hawat will perceive
For he doth know, as we ourselves do know
For we must not deceive ourselves, Nefud
How we Atreides finally brought low:
We did it with our wealth. O wealth, that strength
That buyeth all the lesser pow’rs that man
Imagines its superior: what use
Are honor, titles, loyalty, the mind
Of Mentats, soldiers trained in arts of war
When wealth doth buy and sell them in the streets.
We’ll hide our new-won Hawat from the oafs
The Emperor doth call his Sardaukar
And bind him to us with that poison he
Shall carry in his veins forevermore.
We’ll let him have a poison snooper, too:
The antidote will not be by it marked
And we’ll withdraw it should we have the need.
The absence of a thing, O Nefud, can
Be deadly as a presence: Lack of food
Of water, air, aught else we let ourselves
Become addicted to. Heed you my words?

NEF: Aye, Lord. I go at once to do your will.

(Exit NEFUD)

HAR: And exit, chicken. Who is right of course:
The woman and the boy are surely dead.
But lesser orders must be kept in fear.
And all my plans at last now bear their fruit:
A sweet reward at last. And soon I’ll place
Harkonnen’s blood upon th’Imperial throne.
But first the lesser nephew I’ll discharge
Upon this globe, to rule with lash and fist.
For e’en the bluntest tools do have their use.

(Enter RABBAN)

RAB:You called for me, my Lord.

HAR: My dear Rabban
I once again restore you to the rule
Of this Arrakis, once again our fief.

RAB: I thought that Piter was to hold of you.

HAR: T’was true, but Piter’s gone to his reward.

RAB: Then he hath wearied you of him at last?

HAR: I’ll say a thing to you a single time:
You say I wasted Piter on a whim?
So stupid I am not, and will not take
From you by word or action any sign
Thou thinkest so. Dost understand that, boy?

RAB: Forgive me, lord.

HAR: You do not cozen me.
I see resentment in thy sullen eyes.
But you must learn to kill men not for spite
Or pleasure, but for purpose plainly known.

RAB: You killed the traitor doctor with a word.

HAR: A word, but not a whim. Such deadly toys
Are best not left where they reveal their use.
He gave to me the Duke, but I suborned
A Doctor of the Suk, their Inner School!
But that’s a weapon wild enough to fear:
Oh, no. I did not kill him at a whim.

RAB: And does the Emperor that weapon know
For what it was, and how you him suborned?

HAR (aside): God’s blood! The question shows a depth of thought
Quite unexpected: P’raps he’s not so dull.
(to RAB) He knows it not, but the soon the Sardaukar
Will tell him of it: so I have devised
A false report to channel through the CHOAM
Which will inform him that this Yueh was
A vile impostor, who but claimed to be
Conditioned in the secrets of the Suk
Since all men know that none can such a one
Suborn, our story will be ta’en for true.

RAB: And so our secret’s kept. I understand.

HAR: When last you held this place, I reined you in.
But now I give thee but one guiding rule
As you do rule this planet in my name:
That you do squeeze this orb for all its wealth
And make us rich however so you can.

RAB: And I may take this wealth howe’er I choose?

HAR: Have you the least idea what we paid
To bring this force to bear, what rates the Guild
Doth charge to move an army vast as ours?
If you do squeeze Arrakis sixty years
For every cent that it can render us
We shall be just repaid, but only that.

RAB: And may I have th’artillery you brought?

HAR: Such toys you shall not need. I’ll melt them down:
We need their metal, and against a shield
They cannot stand. Those guns are obsolete
And being known to be have no more use.

RAB: The Fremen use no shields.

HAR: Use lasguns, then.
RAB: And you will free my hands?

HAR: So long you squeeze
And make this hellish world yield up its wealth.

RAB: I understand my Baron perfectly.

HAR: You’ll understand my orders, and obey.
You have the understanding of a stone
Let’s have that clear between us: you know naught
Of how I plan Harkonnen’s destiny.
You know five million persons do infest
The surface of this pestilential world.

RAB: My lord knows well I was his regent here.
And with respect, that number may be low.
They’re difficult to number as the sand,
And if you count the Fremen…

HAR: I do not.
The Fremen count for nothing. Stamp them out.

RAB: The Sardaukar think otherwise, my lord.

HAR: You know a thing?

RAB: My men who stayed
When dead Atreides took this place from us
Report a Fremen band did lay a trap
For Sardaukar, and slew them to a man.

HAR: They slaughtered Sardaukar? Impossible.

RAB: I only say what they did say to me.
These Fremen Thufir Hawat had with them.

HAR: These were no Fremen, but Atreides’ men
Disguised as Fremen, trained to deadly skill.

RAB: The Sardaukar believe they’re Fremen still
And I believe it. You, my lord, did not
See what a thorn they were within our side
When I commanded here in time before.
The Sardaukar intend to wipe them out
And have already launched a great campaign.

HAR: Most excellent!

RAB: My lord, the Sardaukar…

HAR: Will chase a ruin’d savage band of rats
While we walk off with Hawat: what a prize!

RAB: My lord, we underestimate their strength
In numbers and in other things besides.

HAR: They’re rabble. What? Think you to teach my trade?
Go to! The cities and the villages
Are your concern, with all their populace.
Some one of them might try a dangerous thing:
A Minor House, with some ambition.
If one of them should leave Arrakis with
Unpleasant stories of this day’s events
I should be most displeased: have you the least
Idea how displeased with you I’d be?

RAB: In this I strive to earn your pleasure, lord.

HAR: ‘Tis well. Hold hostages, so none shall learn
That any but Atreides’ house and ours
Did here contend: a battle, nothing more
Than such as happen in the normal course.
There were no Sardaukar upon this world,
The Duke was offered exile, but he died
In noble battle ere he could accept.

RAB: ‘Tis as the Emperor wished.

HAR: ‘Tis as he wished.

RAB: The smugglers, lord will carry out the tale.

HAR: A smuggler’s tale is cheaper than the tail
They chase in any hellhole of the stars.
They’re not to be believed, nor shall they be.
And in the meantime, you shall squeeze this world
Of income. Show no mercy or remorse
To these rebellious slaves who envy us.
No pity or compassion must you show.
Mercy is a chimera, but dies
Before the hungry stomach and the throat
That cries aloud its thirst. The carnivore
Like me is always hungry, ever thirsts.

RAB: Aye, Lord.

HAR: You have your orders: on the morn
You’ll say that our Sublime Shaddam IV.
Hath charged thee to restore the peace to them.

RAB: I understand, my Lord.

HAR: I’m sure you do.


HAR: A muscle-minded fool, but with a use:
He’ll grind the rabble to a bloody pulp
And when I send Feyd-Rautha in his stead
They’ll love him just for being not Rabban.
The one who saves them from the beast. He’ll know
By then how best to rule, how to oppress
And make oppression seem a blessing. He
Will be the one we need to gentle them.