William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act I, Scene vii
by Scott Huggins
Yeah, okay, I couldn’t let this die, so here’s another scene, for your enjoyment.
Act I, Scene vii.
The Training Room of Castle Caladan
PAUL at table
Enter Duke LETO ATREIDES and guards
LETO (aside): Now is the time to dare, and win the name
Of daring in the Councils of the Landsraad,
Who name me Just Duke Leto, he who dares
To speak against the sycophants of power.
Now that power hath sent us to Arrakis
And I have dared to seize the chance, but how
Would I dare not? Defy the throne’s command?
That were fatal. So I, the daring Duke
See only what I dare not do. Not run
Though that were highest wisdom. Dare not show
The great fatigue that weighs within my bones.
Dare not drop this false uplifted face.
And dare not rest. And dare not miss the chance to rest
On ships. The great Heighliners of the Guild
Do open, off’ring all too brief a rest.
PAUL: Is Dune as dangerous as rumor hath it?
LETO (aside): This is my son; I’ll not be false to him.
Not so dangerous as hellmouth gate
Nor deadly as a viper, but ‘twill serve.
PAUL: Hawat says we’re to befriend the Fremen.
(aside) Why speak I not what that old woman said?
LETO: Hawat sees the main chance perilous
But more there is than danger: there is CHOAM,
The Combine Honnete Ober Advancer
Mercantiles, and in giving Dune to us,
We must be named directors of that wealth.
A subtle gain we’ve too long been denied.
PAUL: Did Reverend Mother warn you from this path?
LETO: The hand behind that warning was thy mother’s
Who would not see us placed in danger’s way.
‘Tis how she shows her love to us, to warn.
PAUL: Does she know of the Fremen?
LETO: Yea, and more.
PAUL: What more?
LETO: The CHOAM entangles as the kraken
Dark, unseen, strong in tentacular
Ubiquity. Machines of Ix, the art
Of Ecaz, horses, lumber, sharks and rice
Our pundi rice of Caladan trans-shipped
Along with that most precious load of all
Arrakis’ prize mélange. One fistful buys
A home on Tupile. Only from the mines
Of Dune’s vast desert comes that mystic spice
That lights the vasty deeps of trackless space
And holds off age, once leveler of men.
PAUL: And this we now control?
LETO: No more than half.
Yet all the Houses of the Landsraad hang
On profits from that spice, now in our trust.
What should transpire, should we fail in that charge?
PAUL: Who hoards mélange could do brisk trade in souls
For that rare drug, however high their toll.
LETO: Most excellent son! The learning I have hired
Is not in vain, and now know one thing more:
Harkonnen’s hoard hath grown for twenty years.
PAUL: They mean our charge to fail, and to your blame.
LETO: They wish our name to be dragged in the mire.
My star, late waxen in the Landsraad bright
To shine with light inconstant and to fade.
No House could stand with me were I to gash
Their purse with foolish policy. Be damned
The Great Convention! They’d be blind
To aught that would be done against me then.
PAUL: They’d let atomic weapons bring us down?
LETO: Nay, nothing flagrant such as that!
‘Twould bring the Great Convention down entire.
The forms must be obeyed, but only forms.
The spirit would be dead as Mother Earth.
PAUL: Then, why, sire do we walk into this snare?
LETO: Son, think! We know the trap for where it is,
And in that knowledge, know how to evade
The ambush set to bring our fortunes down.
As in the ars duello so we watch
The feint within the feint within the feint,
Unravelling the true strike from the false
And knowing the Harkonnen do hoard spice
We look to see who likewise hoards, and hopes
To make a profit from our forecast fall.
PAUL: Who’s in that scheming list of enemies?
LETO: Many we already knew for foes
And some we took for friends, these now proved false.
Yet these are trifles, naught beside the name
O’ershadowing all others, our great sire,
The Padishah, the Emperor himself.
PAUL: Couldst thou not call the Landsraad, and expose..?
LETO: And show our foe we see his hidden knife?
Where would he hide it next, and where’s our proof?
We’d gain a little time and buy mere chaos.
And never know whence came the next attack.
PAUL: Where goes the Padishah, go Sardaukar.
LETO: Clad in Harkonnen robes, without a doubt.
PAUL: How could the Fremen rabble help us then?
LETO: Hath Hawat told thee aught then of Salusa
Secundus, prison planet of the realm?
PAUL: Nay, my father.
LETO: What if it were more?
It begs the question, whence the Sardaukar?
PAUL: The Sardaukar come from the prison planet?
LETO: They are not spawned in void; they come from somewhere.
PAUL: The Emperor commands each world to levy…
LETO: ‘Tis what we’re led to think, like spavined sheep,
Yet naught hath changed in thrice a thousand years,
The balance of the realm remains unchanged
The forces of the Landsraad ranged against
The Sardaukar with levies close behind.
With levies, mark. They are not Sardaukar.
PAUL: But all report S.S. is like to hell!
LETO: No doubt. And where would you train fighting men?
PAUL: How could you then commend them, raised in hell?
LETO: The ways are known and ancient, nothing new
Is done under Salusa Second’s sun.
Lull them with stories of their secret worth
Their sorrow shared, the hell that did them birth
Now justified because it was their womb,
Regardless of how terrible a tomb
It was for them, they are the lords of stars
As long as they will fight the Empire’s wars.
Consider Dune, an endless burning waste
As hard a place as ever men have faced.