Chapter no 18


The hawk hopped one step closer to Kynes’ outstretched hand, turned its head first one way and then the other to study the exposed flesh.

“Arrakis is a one-crop planet,” his father said. “One crop. It supports a ruling class that lives as ruling classes have lived in all times while, beneath them, a semihuman mass of semislaves exists on the leavings. It’s the masses and the leavings that occupy our attention. These are far more valuable than has ever been suspected.”

“I’m ignoring you, Father,” Kynes whispered. “Go away.”

And he thought: Surely there must be some of my Fremen near. They cannot help but see the birds over me. They will investigate if only to see if there’s moisture available .

“The masses of Arrakis will know that we work to make the land flow with water,” his father said. “Most of them, of course, will have only a semimystical understanding of how we intend to do this. Many, not understanding the prohibitive mass-ratio problem, may even think we’ll bring water from some other planet rich in it. Let them think anything they wish as long as they believe in us.”

In a minute I’ll get up and tell him what I think of him , Kynes thought. Standing there lecturing me when he should be helping me .

The bird took another hop closer to Kynes’ outstretched hand. Two more hawks drifted down to the sand behind it.




“Religion and law among our masses must be one and the same,” his father said. “An act of disobedience must be a sin and require religious penalties. This will have the dual benefit of bringing both greater obedience and greater bravery. We must depend not so much on the bravery of individuals, you see, as upon the bravery of a whole population.”

Where is my population now when I need it most? Kynes thought. He summoned all his strength, moved his hand a finger’s width toward the nearest hawk. It hopped backward among its companions and all stood poised for flight.

“Our timetable, will achieve the stature of a natural phenomenon,” his father said. “A planet’s life is a vast, tightly interwoven fabric. Vegetation and animal changes will be determined at first by the raw physical forces we manipulate. As they establish themselves, though, our changes will become controlling influences in their own right – and we will have to deal with them, too. Keep in mind, though, that we need control only three per cent of the energy surface – only three per cent – to tip the entire structure over into our self-sustaining system.”

Why aren’t you helping me? Kynes wondered. Always the same: when I need you most, you fail me . He wanted to turn his head, to stare in the direction of his father’s voice, stare the old man down. Muscles refused to answer his demand.

Kynes saw the hawk move. It approached his hand, a cautious step at a time while its companions waited in mock indifference. The hawk stopped only a hop away from his hand.

A profound clarity filled Kynes’ mind. He saw quite suddenly a potential for Arrakis that his father had never seen. The possibilities along that different path flooded through him.

“No more terrible disaster could befall your people than for them to fall into the hands of a Hero,” his father said.

Reading my mind! Kynes thought. Well . . . let him .

The messages already have been sent to my sietch villages , he thought. Nothing can stop them. If the Duke’s son is alive they’ll find him and protect him as I have commanded. They may discard the woman, his mother, but they’ll save the boy .

The hawk took one hop that brought it within slashing distance of his hand. It tipped its head to examine the supine flesh. Abruptly, it straightened, stretched its head upward and with a single screech, leaped into the air and banked away overhead with its companions behind it.

They’ve come! Kynes thought. My Fremen have found me!

Then he heard the sand rumbling.

Every Fremen knew the sound, could distinguish it immediately from the noises of worms or other desert life. Somewhere beneath him, the pre-spice mass had accumulated enough water and organic matter from the little makers, had reached the critical stage of wild growth. A gigantic bubble of carbon dioxide was forming deep in the sand, heaving upward in an enormous “blow” with a dust whirlpool at its center. It would exchange what had been formed deep in the sand for whatever lay on the surface.

The hawks circled overhead screeching their frustration. They knew what was happening. Any desert creature would know.

And I am a desert creature , Kynes thought. You see me, Father? I am a desert creature.

He felt the bubble lift him, felt it break and the dust whirlpool engulf him, dragging him down into cool darkness. For a moment, the sensation of coolness and the moisture were blessed relief. Then, as his planet killed him, it occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error.




Even the hawks could appreciate these facts.

Prophecy and prescience  – How can they be put to the test in the face of the unanswered questions? Consider: How much is actual prediction of the “waveform” (as Muad’Dib referred to his vision-image) and how much is the prophet shaping the future to fit the prophecy? What of the harmonics inherent in the act of prophecy? Does the prophet see the future or does he see a line of weakness, a fault or cleavage that he may shatter with words or decisions as a diamond-cutter shatters his gem with a blow of a knife?

– “Private Reflections on Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan

“Get their water ,” the man calling out of the night had said. And Paul fought down his fear, glanced at his mother. His trained eyes saw her readiness for battle, the waiting whipsnap of her muscles.

“It would be regrettable should we have to destroy you out of hand,” the voice above them said.

That’s the one who spoke to us first , Jessica thought. There are at least two of them – one to our right and one on our left .

“Cignoro hrobosa sukares hin mange la pchagavas doi me kamavas na beslas lele pal hrobas!”

It was the man to their right calling out across the basin.

To Paul, the words were gibberish, but out of her Bene Gesserit training, Jessica recognized the speech. It was Chakobsa, one of the ancient hunting languages, and the man above them was saying that perhaps these were the strangers they sought.

In the sudden silence that followed the calling voice, the hoop-wheel face of the second moon – faintly ivory blue – rolled over the rocks across the basin, bright and peering.

Scrambling sounds came from the rocks – above and to both sides . . . dark motions in the moonlight. Many figures flowed through the shadows.

A whole troop! Paul thought with a sudden pang.

A tall man in a mottled burnoose stepped in front of Jessica. His mouth baffle was thrown aside for clear speech, revealing a heavy beard in the sidelight of the moon, but face and eyes were hidden in the overhang of his hood.

“What have we here – jinn or human?” he asked.

And Jessica heard the true-banter in his voice, she allowed herself a faint hope. This was the voice of command, the voice that had first shocked them with its intrusion from the night.

“Human, I warrant,” the man said.

Jessica sensed rather than saw the knife hidden in a fold of the man’s robe. She permitted herself one bitter regret that she and Paul had no shields.

“Do you also speak?” the man asked.

Jessica put all the royal arrogance at her command into her manner and voice. Reply was urgent, but she had not heard enough of this man to be certain she had a register on his culture and weaknesses.

“Who comes on us like criminals out of the night?” she demanded.

The burnoose-hooded head showed tension in a sudden twist, then slow relaxation that revealed much. The man had good control.

Paul shifted away from his mother to separate them as targets and give each of them a clearer arena of action.




The hooded head turned at Paul’s movement, opening a wedge of face to moonlight. Jessica saw a sharp nose, one glinting eye – dark, so dark the eye, without any white in it  – a heavy brown and upturned mustache.

“A likely cub,” the man said. “If you’re fugitives from the Harkonnens, it may be you’re welcome among us. What is it, boy?”

The possibilities flashed through Paul’s mind: A trick? A fact? Immediate decision was needed.

“Why should you welcome fugitives?” he demanded.

“A child who thinks and speaks like a man,” the tall man said. “Well, now, to answer your question, my young wali, I am one who does not pay the fai, the water tribute, to the Harkonnens. That is why I might welcome a fugitive.”

He knows who we are , Paul thought. There’s concealment in his voice .

“I am Stilgar, the Fremen,” the tall man said. “Does that speed your tongue, boy?”

It is the same voice , Paul thought. And he remembered the Council with this man seeking the body of a friend slain by the Harkonnens.

“I know you, Stilgar,” Paul said. “I was with my father in Council when you came for the water of your friend. You took away with you my father’s man, Duncan Idaho – an exchange of friends.”

“And Idaho abandoned us to return to his Duke,” Stilgar said.

Jessica heard the shading of disgust in his voice, held herself prepared for attack.

The voice from the rocks above them called: “We waste time here, Stil.”

“This is the Duke’s son,” Stilgar barked. “He’s certainly the one Liet told us to seek.”

“But . . . a child, Stil.”

“The Duke was a man and this lad used a thumper,” Stilgar said. “That was a brave crossing he made in the path of shai-hulud . ”

And Jessica heard him excluding her from his thoughts. Had he already passed sentence?

“We haven’t time for the test,” the voice above them protested.




“Yet he could be the Lisan al-Gaib,” Stilgar said.

He’s looking for an omen! Jessica thought.

“But the woman,” the voice above them said.

Jessica readied herself anew. There had been death in that voice.

“Yes, the woman,” Stilgar said. “And her water.”

“You know the law,” said the voice from the rocks. “Ones who cannot live with the desert – ”

“Be quiet,” Stilgar said. “Times change.”

“Did Liet command this?” asked the voice from the rocks.

“You heard the voice of the cielago, Jamis,” Stilgar said. “Why do you press me?”

And Jessica thought: Cielago! the clue of the tongue opened wide avenues of understanding: this was the language of Ilm and Fiqh, and cielago meant bat , a small flying mammal. Voice of the cielago : they had received a distrans message to seek Paul and herself.

“I but remind you of your duties, friend Stilgar,” said the voice above them.

“My duty is the strength of the tribe,” Stilgar said. “That is my only duty. I need no one to remind me of it. This child-man interests me. He is full-fleshed. He has lived on much water. He has lived away from the father sun. He has not the eyes of the ibad. Yet he does not speak or act like a weakling of the pans. Nor did his father. How can this be?”

“We cannot stay out here all night arguing,” said the voice from the rocks. “If a patrol – ”

“I will not tell you again, Jamis, to be quiet,” Stilgar said.

The man above them remained silent, but Jessica heard him moving, crossing by a leap over a defile and working his way down to the basin floor on their left.

“The voice of the cielago suggested there’d be value to us in saving you two,” Stilgar said. “I can see possibility in this strong boy-man: he is young and can learn. But what of yourself, woman?” He stared at Jessica.

I have his voice and pattern registered now , Jessica thought. I could control him with a word, but he’s a strong man . . . worth much more to us unblunted and with full freedom of action. We shall see .

“I am the mother of this boy,” Jessica said. “In part, his strength which you admire is the product of my training.”

“The strength of a woman can be boundless,” Stilgar said. “Certain it is in a Reverend Mother. Are you a Reverend Mother?”

For the moment, Jessica put aside the implications of the question, answered truthfully, “No.”

“Are you trained in the ways of the desert?”




“No, but many consider my training valuable.”

“We make our own judgments on value,” Stilgar said.

“Every man has the right to his own judgments,” she said.

“It is well that you see the reason,” Stilgar said. “We cannot dally here to test you, woman. Do you understand? We’d not want your shade to plague us. I will take the boy-man, your son, and he shall have my countenance, sanctuary in my tribe. But for you, woman – you understand there is nothing personal in this? It is the rule, Istislah, in the general interest. Is that not enough?”

Paul took a half-step forward. “What are you talking about?”

Stilgar flicked a glance across Paul, but kept his attention on Jessica. “Unless you’ve been deep-trained from childhood to live here, you could bring destruction onto an entire tribe. It is the law, and we cannot carry useless . . . ”

Jessica’s motion started as a slumping, deceptive faint to the ground. It was the obvious thing for a weak outworlder to do, and the obvious slows an opponent’s reactions. It takes an instant to interpret a known thing when that thing is exposed as something unknown. She shifted as she saw his right shoulder drop to bring a weapon within the folds of his robe to bear on her new position. A turn, a slash of her arm, a whirling of mingled robes, and she was against the rocks with the man helpless in front of her.

At his mother’s first movement, Paul backed two steps. As she attacked, he dove for shadows. A bearded man rose up in his path, half-crouched, lunging forward with a weapon in one hand. Paul took the man beneath the sternum with a straight-hand jab, sidestepped and chopped the base of his neck, relieving him of the weapon as he fell.

Then Paul was into the shadows, scrambling upward among the rocks, the weapon tucked into his waist sash. He had recognized it in spite of its unfamiliar shape – a projectile weapon, and that said many things about this place, another clue that shields were not used here.

They will concentrate on my mother and that Stilgar fellow. She can handle him. I must get to a safe vantage point where I can threaten them and give her time to escape .

There came a chorus of sharp spring-clicks from the basin. Projectiles whined off the rocks around him. One of them flicked his robe. He squeezed around a corner in the rocks, found himself in a narrow vertical crack, began inching upward – his back against one side, his feet against the other – slowly, as silently as he could.

The roar of Stilgar’s voice echoed up to him: “Get back, you wormheaded lice! She’ll break my neck if you come near!”

A voice out of the basin said: “The boy got away, Stil. What are we – ”

“Of course he got away, you sand-brained . . . Ugh-h-h! Easy, woman!”

“Tell them to stop hunting my son,” Jessica said.

“They’ve stopped, woman. He got away as you intended him to. Great gods below! Why didn’t you say you were a weirding woman and a fighter?”

“Tell your men to fall back,” Jessica said. “Tell them to go out into the basin where I can see them . . . and you’d better believe that I know how many of them there are.”

And she thought: This is the delicate moment, but if this man is as sharp-minded as I think him, we have a chance .

Paul inched his way upward, found a narrow ledge on which he could rest and look down into the basin. Stilgar’s voice came up to him.

“And if I refuse? How can you . . . ugh-h-h! Leave be, woman! We mean no harm to you, now. Great gods! If you can do this to the strongest of us, you’re worth ten times your weight of water.”

Now, the test of reason , Jessica thought. She said: “You ask after the Lisan al-Gaib.”




“You could be the folk of the legend,” he said, “but I’ll believe that when it’s been tested. All I know now is that you came here with that stupid Duke who . . . Aiee-e-e! Woman! I care not if you kill me! He was honorable and brave, but it was stupid to put himself in the way of the Harkonnen fist!”


Presently, Jessica said: “He had no choice, but we’ll not argue it. Now, tell that man of yours behind the bush over there to stop trying to bring his weapon to bear on me, or I’ll rid the universe of you and take him next.”

“You there!” Stilgar roared. “Do as she says!”

“But, Stil – ”

“Do as she says, you wormfaced, crawling, sand-brained piece of lizard turd! Do it or I’ll help her dismember you! Can’t you see the worth of this woman?”

The man at the bush straightened from his partial concealment, lowered his weapon.

“He has obeyed,” Stilgar said.

“Now,” Jessica said, “explain clearly to your people what it is you wish of me. I want no young hothead to make a foolish mistake.”

“When we slip into the villages and towns we must mask our origin, blend with the pan and graben folk,” Stilgar said. “We carry no weapons, for the crysknife is sacred. But you, woman, you have the weirding ability of battle. We’d only heard of it and many doubted, but one cannot doubt what he sees with his own eyes. You mastered an armed Fremen. This is a weapon no search could expose.”

There was a stirring in the basin as Stilgar’s words sank home.

“And if I agree to teach you the . . . weirding way?”

“My countenance for you as well as your son.”

“How can we be sure of the truth in your promise?”

Stilgar’s voice lost some of its subtle undertone of reasoning, took on an edge of bitterness. “Out here, woman, we carry no paper for contracts. We make no evening promises to be broken at dawn. When a man says a thing, that’s the contract. As leader of my people, I’ve put them in bond to my word. Teach us this weirding way and you have sanctuary with us as long as you wish. Your water shall mingle with our water.”

“Can you speak for all Fremen?” Jessica asked.

“In time, that may be. But only my brother, Liet, speaks for all Fremen. Here, I promise only secrecy. My people will not speak of you to any other sietch. The Harkonnens have returned to Dune in force and your Duke is dead. It is said that you two died in a Mother storm. The hunter does not seek dead game.”




There’s safety in that , Jessica thought. But these people have good communications and a message could be sent.

“I presume there was a reward offered for us,” she said.

Stilgar remained silent, and she could almost see the thoughts turning over in his head, sensing the shifts of his muscles beneath her hands.

Presently, he said: “I will say it once more: I’ve given the tribe’s word-bond. My people know your worth to us now. What could the Harkonnens give us? Our freedom? Hah! no, you are the taqwa, that which buys us more than all the spice in the Harkonnen coffers.”

“Then I shall teach you my way of battle,” Jessica said, and she sensed the unconscious ritual-intensity of her own words.

“Now, will you release me?”

“So be it,” Jessica said. She released her hold on him, stepped aside in full view of the bank in the basin. This is the test-mashed , she thought. But Paul must know about them even if I die for his knowledge .

In the waiting silence, Paul inched forward to get a better view of where his mother stood. As he moved, he heard heavy breathing, suddenly stilled, above him in the vertical crack of the rock, and sensed a faint shadow there outlined against the stars.

Stilgar’s voice came up from the basin: “You, up there! Stop hunting the boy. He’ll come down presently.”

The voice of a young boy or a girl sounded from the darkness above Paul: “But, Stil, he can’t be far from – ”

“I said leave him be, Chani! You spawn of a lizard!”

There came a whispered imprecation from above Paul and a low voice: “Call me spawn of a lizard!” But the shadow pulled back out of view.

Paul returned his attention to the basin, picking out the gray-shadowed movement of Stilgar beside his mother.

“Come in, all of you,” Stilgar called. He turned to Jessica. “And now I’ll ask you how we may be certain you’ll fulfill your half of our bargain? You’re the one’s lived with papers and empty contracts and such as – ”

“We of the Bene Gesserit don’t break our vows any more than you do,” Jessica said.

There was a protracted silence, then a multiple hissing of voices: “A Bene Gesserit witch!”

Paul brought his captured weapon from his sash, trained it on the dark figure of Stilgar, but the man and his companions remained immobile, staring at Jessica.

“It is the legend,” someone said.

“It was said that the Shadout Mapes gave this report on you,” Stilgar said. “But a thing so important must be tested. If you are the Bene Gesserit of the legend whose son will lead us to paradise . . .” He shrugged.

Jessica sighed, thinking: So our Missionaria Protectiva even planted religious safety valves all through this hell hole. Ah, well . . . it’ll help, and that’s what it was meant to do .




She said: “The seeress who brought you the legend, she gave it under the binding of karama and ijaz, the miracle and the inimitability of the prophecy – this I know. Do you wish a sign?”

His nostrils flared in the moonlight. “We cannot tarry for the rites,” he whispered.

Jessica recalled a chart Kynes had shown her while arranging emergency escape routes. How long ago it seemed. There had been a place called “Sietch Tabr” on the chart and beside it the notation: “Stilgar.”

“Perhaps when we get to Sietch Tabr,” she said.

The revelation shook him, and Jessica thought: If only he knew the tricks we use! She must’ve been good, that Bene Gesserit of the Missionaria Protectiva. These Fremen are beautifully prepared to believe in us .

Stilgar shifted uneasily. “We must go now.”

She nodded, letting him know that they left with her permission.

He looked up at the cliff almost directly at the rock ledge where Paul crouched. “You there, lad: you may come down now.” He returned his attention to Jessica, spoke with an apologetic tone: “Your son made an incredible amount of noise climbing. He has much to learn lest he endanger us all, but he’s young.”

“No doubt we have much to teach each other,” Jessica said. “Meanwhile, you’d best see to your companion out there. My noisy son was a bit rough in disarming him.”

Stilgar whirled, his hood flapping. “Where?”

“Beyond those bushes.” She pointed.

Stilgar touched two of his men. “See to it.” He glanced at his companions, identifying them. “Jamis is missing.” He turned to Jessica. “Even your cub knows the weirding way.”

“And you’ll notice that my son hasn’t stirred from up there as you ordered,” Jessica said.

The two men Stilgar had sent returned supporting a third who stumbled and gasped between them. Stilgar gave them a flicking glance, returned his attention to Jessica. “The son will take only your orders, eh? Good. He knows discipline.”

“Paul, you may come down now,” Jessica said.

Paul stood up, emerging into moonlight above his concealing cleft, slipped the Fremen weapon back into his sash. As he turned, another figure arose from the rocks to face him.

In the moonlight and reflection off gray stone, Paul saw a small figure in Fremen robes, a shadowed face peering out at him from the hood, and the muzzle of one of the projectile weapons aimed at him from a fold of robe.

“I am Chani, daughter of Liet.”

The voice was lilting, half filled with laughter.




“I would not have permitted you to harm my companions,” she said.

Paul swallowed. The figure in front of him turned into the moon’s path and he saw an elfin face, black pits of eyes. The familiarity of that face, the features out of numberless visions in his earliest prescience, shocked Paul to stillness. He remembered the angry bravado with which he had once described this face-from-a-dream, telling the Reverend Mother Gains Helen Mohiam: “I will meet her.”

And here was the face, but in no meeting he had ever dreamed.

“You were as noisy as shai-hulud in a rage,” she said. “And you took the most difficult way up here. Follow me; I’ll show you an easier way down.”

He scrambled out of the cleft, followed the swirling of her robe across a tumbled landscape. She moved like a gazelle, dancing over the rocks. Paul felt hot blood in his face, was thankful for the darkness.

That girl! She was like a touch of destiny. He felt caught up on a wave, in tune with a motion that lifted all his spirits.

They stood presently amidst the Fremen on the basin floor.

Jessica turned a wry smile on Paul, but spoke to Stilgar: “This will be a good exchange of teachings. I hope you and your people feel no anger at our violence. It seemed . . . necessary. You were about to . . . make a mistake.”

“To save one from a mistake is a gift of paradise,” Stilgar said. He touched his lips with his left hand, lifted the weapon from Paul’s waist with the other, tossed it to a companion. “You will have your own maula pistol, lad, when you’ve earned it.”

Paul started to speak, hesitated, remembering his mother’s teaching: “Beginnings are such delicate times . ”

“My son has what weapons he needs,” Jessica said. She stared at Stilgar, forcing him to think of how Paul had acquired the pistol.

Stilgar glanced at the man Paul had subdued – Jamis. The man stood at one side, head lowered, breathing heavily. “You are a difficult woman,” Stilgar said. He held out his left hand to a companion, snapped his fingers. “Kushti bakka te.”

More Chakobsa , Jessica thought.

The companion pressed two squares of gauze into Stilgar’s hand. Stilgar ran them through his fingers, fixed one around Jessica’s neck beneath her hood, fitted the other around Paul’s neck in the same way.

“Now you wear the kerchief of the bakka,” he said. “If we become separated, you will be recognized as belonging to Stilgar’s sietch. We will talk of weapons another time.”

He moved out through his band now, inspecting them, giving Paul’s Fremkit pack to one of his men to carry.




Bakka, Jessica thought, recognizing the religious term: bakka – the weeper . She sensed how the symbolism of the kerchiefs united this band. Why should weeping unite them? she asked herself.

Stilgar came to the young girl who had embarrassed Paul, said: “Chani, take the child-man under your wing. Keep him out of trouble.”

Chani touched Paul’s arm. “Come along, child-man.”

Paul hid the anger in his voice, said: “My name is Paul. It were well you – ”

“We’ll give you a name, manling,” Stilgar said, “in the time of the mihna, at the test of aql.”

The test of reason , Jessica translated. The sudden need of Paul’s ascendancy overrode all other consideration, and she barked, “My son’s been tested with the gom jabbar!”

In the stillness that followed, she knew she had struck to the heart of them.

“There’s much we don’t know of each other,” Stilgar said. “But we tarry overlong. Day-sun mustn’t find us in the open.” He crossed to the man Paul had struck down, said, “Jamis, can you travel?”

A grunt answered him. “Surprised me, he did. ‘Twas an accident. I can travel.”

“No accident,” Stilgar said. “I’ll hold you responsible with Chani for the lad’s safety, Jamis. These people have my countenance.”

Jessica stared at the man, Jamis. His was the voice that had argued with Stilgar from the rocks. His was the voice with death in it. And Stilgar had seen fit to reinforce his order with this Jamis.

Stilgar flicked a testing glance across the group, motioned two men out. “Larus and Farrukh, you are to hide our tracks. See that we leave no trace. Extra care – we have two with us who’ve not been trained.” He turned, hand upheld and aimed across the basin. “In squad line with flankers – move out. We must be at Cave of the Ridges before dawn.”

Jessica fell into step beside Stilgar, counting heads. There were forty Fremen – she and Paul made it forty-two. And she thought: They travel as a military company – even the girl, Chani .

Paul took a place in the line behind Chani. He had put down the black feeling at being caught by the girl. In his mind now was the memory called up by his mother’s barked reminder: “My son’s been tested with the gom jabbar!” He found that his hand tingled with remembered pain.

“Watch where you go,” Chani hissed. “Do not brush against a bush lest you leave a thread to show our passage.”

Paul swallowed, nodded.

Jessica listened to the sounds of the troop, hearing her own footsteps and Paul’s, marveling at the way the Fremen moved. They were forty people crossing the basin with only the sounds natural to the place – ghostly feluccas, their robes flitting through the shadows. Their destination was Sietch Tabr – Stilgar’s sietch.

She turned the word over in her mind; sietch. It was a Chakobsa word, unchanged from the old hunting language out of countless centuries. Sietch: a meeting place in time of danger. The profound implications of the word and the language were just beginning to register with her after the tension of their encounter.




“We move well,” Stilgar said. “With, Shai-hulud’s favor, we’ll reach Cave of the Ridges before dawn.”

Jessica nodded, conserving her strength, sensing the terrible fatigue she held at bay by force of will . . . and, she admitted it: by the force of elation. Her mind focused on the value of this troop, seeing what was revealed here about the Fremen culture.

All of them , she thought, an entire culture trained to military order. What a priceless thing is here for an outcast Duke!

The Fremen were supreme in that quality the ancients called “spannungsbogen”  – which is the self-imposed delay between desire for a thing and the act of reaching out to grasp that thing.

– from “The Wisdom of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan

They approached Cave of the Ridges at dawnbreak, moving through a split in the basin wall so narrow they had to turn sideways to negotiate it. Jessica saw Stilgar detach guards in the thin dawnlight, saw them for a moment as they began their scrambling climb up the cliff.

Paul turned his head upward as he walked, seeing the tapestry of this planet cut in cross section where the narrow cleft gaped toward gray-blue sky.

Chani pulled at his robe to hurry him, said: “Quickly. It is already light.”

“The men who climbed above us, where are they going?” Paul whispered.

“The first daywatch,” she said. “Hurry now!”

A guard left outside , Paul thought. Wise. But it would’ve been wiser still for us to approach this place in separate bands. Less chance of losing the whole troop . He paused in the thought, realizing that this was guerrilla thinking, and he remembered his father’s fear that the Atreides might become a guerrilla house.

“Faster,” Chani whispered.

Paul sped his steps, hearing the swish of robes behind. And he thought of the words of the sirat from Yueh’s tiny O.C. Bible.

“Paradise on my right, Hell on my left and the Angel of Death behind .” He rolled the quotation in his mind.

They rounded a corner where the passage widened. Stilgar stood at one side motioning them into a low hole that opened at right angles.

“Quickly!” he hissed. “We’re like rabbits in a cage if a patrol catches us here.”

Paul bent for the opening, followed Chani into a cave illuminated by thin gray light from somewhere ahead.

“You can stand up,” she said.

He straightened, studied the place: a deep and wide area with domed ceiling that curved away just out of a man’s handreach. The troop spread out through shadows. Paul saw his mother come up on one side, saw her examine their companions. And he noted how she failed to blend with the Fremen even though her garb was identical. The way she moved – such a sense of power and grace.

“Find a place to rest and stay out of the way, child-man,” Chani said. “Here’s food.” She pressed two leaf-wrapped morsels into his hand. They reeked of spice.




Stilgar came up behind Jessica, called an order to a group on the left. “Get the doorseal in place and see to moisture security.” He turned to another Fremen: “Lemil, get glowglobes.” He took Jessica’s arm. “I wish to show you something, weirding woman.” He led her around a curve of rock toward the light source.

Jessica found herself looking out across the wide lip of another opening to the cave, an opening high in a cliff wall – looking out across another basin about ten or twelve kilometers wide. The basin was shielded by high rock walls. Sparse clumps of plant growth were scattered around it.

As she looked at the dawn-gray basin, the sun lifted over the far escarpment illuminating a biscuit-colored landscape of rocks and sand. And she noted how the sun of Arrakis appeared to leap over the horizon.

It’s because we want to hold it back , she thought. Night is safer than day . There came over her then a longing for a rainbow in this place that would never see rain. I must suppress such longings , she thought. They’re a weakness. I no longer can afford weaknesses .

Stilgar gripped her arm, pointed across the basin. “There! There you see proper Druses.”

She looked where he pointed, saw movement: people on the basin floor scattering at the daylight into the shadows of the opposite cliffwall. In spite of the distance, their movements were plain in the clear air. She lifted her binoculars from beneath her robe, focused the oil lenses on the distant people. Kerchiefs fluttered like a flight of multicolored butterflies.

“That is home,” Stilgar said. “We will be there this night.” He stared across the basin, tugging at his mustache. “My people stayed out overlate working. That means there are no patrols about. I’ll signal them later and they’ll prepare for us.”

“Your people show good discipline,” Jessica said. She lowered the binoculars, saw that Stilgar was looking at them.

“They obey the preservation of the tribe,” he said. “It is the way we choose among us for a leader. The leader is the one who is strongest, the one who brings water and security.” He lifted his attention to her face.

She returned his stare, noted the whiteless eyes, the stained eyepits, the dust-rimmed beard and mustache, the line of the catchtube curving down from his nostrils into his stillsuit.

“Have I compromised your leadership by besting you, Stilgar?” she asked.

“You did not call me out,” he said.

“It’s important that a leader keep the respect of his troop,” she said.

“Isn’t a one of those sandlice I cannot handle,” Stilgar said. “When you bested me, you bested us all. Now, they hope to learn from you . . . the weirding way . . . and some are curious to see if you intend to call me out.”

She weighed the implications. “By besting you in formal battle?”

He nodded. “I’d advise you against this because they’d not follow you. You’re not of the sand. They saw this in our night’s passage.”

“Practical people,” she said.

“True enough.” He glanced at the basin. “We know our needs. But not many are thinking deep thoughts now this close to home. We’ve been out overlong arranging to deliver our spice quota to the free traders for the cursed Guild . . . may their faces be forever black.”

Jessica stopped in the act of turning away from him, looked back up into his face. “The Guild? What has the Guild to do with your spice?”




“It’s Liet’s command,” Stilgar said. “We know the reason, but the taste of it sours us. We bribe the Guild with a monstrous payment in spice to keep our skies clear of satellites and such that none may spy what we do to the face of Arrakis.”

She weighed out her words, remembering that Paul had said this must be the reason Arrakeen skies were clear of satellites. “And what is it you do to the face of Arrakis that must not be seen?”

“We change it . . . slowly but with certainty . . . to make it fit for human life. Our generation will not see it, nor our children nor our children’s children nor the grandchildren of their children . . . but it will come.” He stared with veiled eyes out over the basin. “Open water and tall green plants and people walking freely without stillsuits.”

So that’s the dream of this Liet-Kynes , she thought. And she said: “Bribes are dangerous; they have a way of growing larger and larger.”

“They grow,” he said, “but the slow way is the safe way.”

Jessica turned, looked out over the basin, trying to see it the way Stilgar was seeing it in his imagination. She saw only the grayed mustard stain of distant rocks and a sudden hazy motion in the sky above the cliffs.

“Ah-h-h-h,” Stilgar said.

She thought at first it must be a patrol vehicle, then realized it was a mirage – another landscape hovering over the desert-sand and a distant wavering of greenery and in the middle distance a long worm traveling the surface with what looked like Fremen robes fluttering on its back.

The mirage faded.

“It would be better to ride,” Stilgar said, “but we cannot permit a maker into this basin. Thus, we must walk again tonight.”

Maker – their word for worm , she thought.

She measured the import of his words, the statement that they could not permit a worm into this basin. She knew what she had seen in the mirage – Fremen riding on the back of a giant worm. It took heavy control not to betray her shock at the implications.

“We must be getting back to the others,” Stilgar said. “Else my people may suspect I dally with you. Some already are jealous that my hands tasted your loveliness when we struggled last night in Tuono Basin .”

“That will be enough of that!” Jessica snapped.

“No offense,” Stilgar said, and his voice was mild. “Women among us are not taken against their will . . . and with you . . . ” He shrugged. “. . . even that convention isn’t required.”

“You will keep in mind that I was a duke’s lady,” she said, but her voice was calmer.

“As you wish,” he said. “It’s time to seal off this opening, to permit relaxation of stillsuit discipline. My people need to rest in comfort this day. Their families will give them little rest on the morrow.”

Silence fell between them.

Jessica stared out into the sunlight. She had heard what she had heard in Stilgar’s voice – the unspoken offer of more than his countenance . Did he need a wife? She realized she could step into that place with him. It would be one way to end conflict over tribal leadership – female properly aligned with male.

But what of Paul then? Who could tell yet what rules of parenthood prevailed here? And what of the unborn daughter she had carried these few weeks? What of a dead Duke’s daughter? And she permitted herself to face fully the significance of this other child growing within her, to see her own motives in permitting the conception. She knew what it was – she had succumbed to that profound drive shared by all creatures who are faced with death – the drive to seek immortality through progeny. The fertility drive of the species had overpowered them.




Jessica glanced at Stilgar, saw that he was studying her, waiting. A daughter born here to a woman wed to such a one as this man – what would be the fate of such a daughter? she asked herself. Would he try to limit the necessities that a Bene Gesserit must follow?

Stilgar cleared his throat and revealed then that he understood some of the questions in her mind. “What is important for a leader is that which makes him a leader. It is the needs of his people. If you teach me your powers, there may come a day when one of us must challenge the other. I would prefer some alternative.”

“There are several alternatives?” she asked.

“The Sayyadina,” he said. “Our Reverend Mother is old.”

Their Reverend Mother!

Before she could probe this, he said: “I do not necessarily offer myself as mate. This is nothing personal, for you are beautiful and desirable. But should you become one of my women, that might lead some of my young men to believe that I’m too much concerned with pleasures of the flesh and not enough concerned with the tribe’s needs. Even now they listen to us and watch us.”

A man who weighs his decisions, who thinks of consequences , she thought.

“There are those among my young men who have reached the age of wild spirits,” he said. “They must be eased through this period. I must leave no great reasons around for them to challenge me. Because I would have to maim and kill among them. This is not the proper course for a leader if it can be avoided with honor. A leader, you see, is one of the things that distinguishes a mob from a people. He maintains the level of individuals. Too few individuals, and a people reverts to a mob.”

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