Chapter no 5


What had the Lady Jessica to sustain her in her time of trial? Think you carefully on this Bene Gesserit proverb and perhaps you will see: “Any road followed precisely to its end leads precisely nowhere. Climb the mountain just a little bit to test that it’s a mountain. From the top of the mountain, you cannot see the mountain.”

– from “Muad’Dib: Family Commentaries” by the Princess Irulan

At the end of the south wing, Jessica found a metal stair spiraling up to an oval door. She glanced back down the hall, again up at the door.

Oval? she wondered. What an odd shape for a door in a house .

Through the windows beneath the spiral stair she could see the great white sun of Arrakis moving on toward evening. Long shadows stabbed down the hall. She returned her attention to the stairs. Harsh sidelighting picked out bits of dried earth on the open metalwork of the steps.

Jessica put a hand on the rail, began to climb. The rail felt cold under her sliding palm. She stopped at the door, saw it had no handle, but there was a faint depression on the surface of it where a handle should have been.

Surely not a palm lock , she told herself. A palm lock must be keyed to one individual’s hand shape and palm lines . But it looked like a palm lock. And there were ways to open any palm lock – as she had learned at school.

Jessica glanced back to make certain she was unobserved, placed her palm against the depression in the door. The most gentle of pressures to distort the lines – a turn of the wrist, another turn, a sliding twist of the palm across the surface.

She felt the click.

But there were hurrying footsteps in the hall beneath her. Jessica lifted her hand from the door, turned, saw Mapes come to the foot of the stairs.

“There are men in the great hall say they’ve been sent by the Duke to get young master Paul,” Mapes said. “They’ve the ducal signet and the guard has identified them.” She glanced at the door, back to Jessica.

A cautious one, this Mapes , Jessica thought. That’s a good sign .



“He’s in the fifth room from this end of the hall, the small bedroom,” Jessica said. “If you have trouble waking him, call on Dr. Yueh in the next room. Paul may require a wakeshot.”

Again, Mapes cast a piercing stare at the oval door, and Jessica thought she detected loathing in the expression. Before Jessica could ask about the door and what it concealed, Mapes had turned away, hurrying back down the hall.

Hawat certified this place , Jessica thought. There can’t be anything too terrible in here .

She pushed the door. It swung inward onto a small room with another oval door opposite. The other door had a wheel handle.

An air lock! Jessica thought. She glanced down, saw a door prop fallen to the floor of the little room. The prop carried Hawat’s personal mark. The door was left propped open , she thought. Someone probably knocked the prop down accidentally, not realizing the outer door would close on a palm lock.

She stepped over the lip into the little room.

Why an airlock in a house? she asked herself. And she thought suddenly of exotic creatures sealed off in special climates.

Special climate!

That would make sense on Arrakis where even the driest of off-planet growing things had to be irrigated.

The door behind her began swinging closed. She caught it and propped it open securely with the stick Hawat had left. Again, she faced the wheel-locked inner door, seeing now a faint inscription etched in the metal above the handle. She recognized Galach words, read:

“O, Man! Here is a lovely portion of God’s Creation; then, stand before it and learn to love the perfection of Thy Supreme Friend.”

Jessica put her weight on the wheel. It turned left and the inner door opened. A gentle draft feathered her cheek, stirred her hair. She felt change in the air, a richer taste. She swung the door wide, looked through into massed greenery with yellow sunlight pouring across it.

A yellow sun? she asked herself. Then: Filter glass!

She stepped over the sill and the door swung closed behind.



“A wet-planet conservatory,” she breathed:

Potted plants and low-pruned trees stood all about. She recognized a mimosa, a flowering quince, a sondagi, green-blossomed pleniscenta, green and white striped akarso . . . roses . . .

Even roses!

She bent to breathe the fragrance of a giant pink blossom, straightened to peer around the room.

Rhythmic noise invaded her senses.

She parted a jungle overlapping of leaves, looked through to the center of the room. A low fountain stood there, small with fluted lips. The rhythmic noise was a peeling, spooling arc of water falling thud-a-gallop onto the metal bowl.

Jessica sent herself through the quick sense-clearing regimen, began a methodical inspection of the room’s perimeter. It appeared to be about ten meters square. From its placement above the end of the hall and from subtle differences in construction, she guessed it had been added onto the roof of this wing long after the original building’s completion.

She stopped at the south limits of the room in front of the wide reach of filter glass, stared around. Every available space in the room was crowded with exotic wet-climate plants. Something rustled in the greenery. She tensed, then glimpsed a simple clock-set servok with pipe and hose arms. An arm lifted, sent out a fine spray of dampness that misted her cheeks. The arm retracted and she looked at what it had watered: a fern tree.

Water everywhere in this room – on a planet where water was the most precious juice of life. Water being wasted so conspicuously that it shocked her to inner stillness.

She glanced out at the filter-yellowed sun. It hung low on a jagged horizon above cliffs that formed part of the immense rock uplifting known as the Shield Wall.



Filter glass , she thought. To turn a white sun into something softer and more familiar. Who could have built such a place? Leto? It would be like him to surprise me with such a gift, but there hasn’t been time. And he’s been busy with more serious problems .

She recalled the report that many Arrakeen houses were sealed by airlock doors and windows to conserve and reclaim interior moisture. Leto had said it was a deliberate statement of power and wealth for this house to ignore such precautions, its doors and windows being sealed only against the omnipresent dust.

But this room embodied a statement far more significant than the lack of waterseals on outer doors. She estimated that this pleasure room used water enough to support a thousand persons on Arrakis – possibly more.

Jessica moved along the window, continuing to stare into the room. The move brought into view a metallic surface at table height beside the fountain and she glimpsed a white notepad and stylus there partly concealed by an overhanging fan leaf. She crossed to the table, noted Hawat’s daysigns on it, studied a message written on the pad:


May this place give you as much pleasure as it has given me. Please permit the room to convey a lesson we learned from the same teachers: the proximity of a desirable thing tempts one to overindulgence. On that path lies danger.

My kindest wishes,


Jessica nodded, remembering that Leto had referred to the Emperor’s former proxy here as Count Fenring. But the hidden message of the note demanded immediate attention, couched as it was in a way to inform her the writer was another Bene Gesserit. A bitter thought touched Jessica in passing: The Count married his Lady .

Even as this thought flicked through her mind, she was bending to seek out the hidden message. It had to be there. The visible note contained the code phrase every Bene Gesserit not bound by a School Injunction was required to give another Bene Gesserit when conditions demanded it: “On that path lies danger.”

Jessica felt the back of the note, rubbed the surface for coded dots. Nothing. The edge of the pad came under her seeking fingers. Nothing. She replaced the pad where she had found it, feeling a sense of urgency.

Something in the position of the pad? she wondered.



But Hawat had been over this room, doubtless had moved the pad. She looked at the leaf above the pad. The leaf! She brushed a finger along the under surface, along the edge, along the stem. It was there! Her fingers detected the subtle coded dots, scanned them in a single passage:

“Your son and Duke are in immediate danger. A bedroom has been designed to attract your son. The H loaded it with death traps to be discovered, leaving one that may escape detection.” Jessica put down the urge to run back to Paul; the full message had to be learned. Her fingers sped over the dots; “I do not know the exact nature of the menace, but it has something to do with a bed. The threat to your Duke involves defection of a trusted companion or lieutenant. The H plan to give you as gift to a minion. To the best of my knowledge, this conservatory is safe. Forgive that I cannot tell more. My sources are few as my Count is not in the pay of the H. In haste, MF.”

Jessica thrust the leaf aside, whirled to dash back to Paul. In that instant, the airlock door slammed open. Paul jumped through it, holding something in his right hand, slammed the door behind him. He saw his mother, pushed through the leaves to her, glanced at the fountain, thrust his hand and the thing it clutched under the falling water.

“Paul!” She grabbed his shoulder, staring at the hand. “What is that?”

He spoke casually, but she caught the effort behind the tone: “Hunter-seeker. Caught it in my room and smashed its nose, but I want to be sure. Water should short it out.”

“Immerse it!” she commanded.

He obeyed.

Presently, she said: “Withdraw your hand. Leave the thing in the water.”

He brought out his hand, shook water from it, staring at the quiescent metal in the fountain. Jessica broke off a plant stem, prodded the deadly sliver.

It was dead.

She dropped the stem into the water, looked at Paul. His eyes studied the room with a searching intensity that she recognized – the B.G. Way .

“This place could conceal anything,” he said.

“I’ve reason to believe it’s safe,” she said.



“My room was supposed to be safe, too. Hawat said – ”

“It was a hunter-seeker,” she reminded him “That means someone inside the house to operate it. Seeker control beams have a limited range. The thing could’ve been spirited in here after Hawat’s investigation.”

But she thought of the message of the leaf: “. . . defection of a trusted companion or lieutenant.” Not Hawat, surely. Oh, surely not Hawat .

“Hawat’s men are searching the house right now,” he said. “That seeker almost got the old woman who came to wake me.”

“The Shadout Mapes,” Jessica said, remembering the encounter at the stairs. “A summons from your father to – ”

“That can wait,” Paul said. “Why do you think this room’s safe?”

She pointed to the note, explained about it.

He relaxed slightly.

But Jessica remained inwardly tense, thinking: A hunter-seeker! Merciful Mother! It took all her training to prevent a fit of hysterical trembling.

Paul spoke matter of factly: “It’s the Harkonnens, of course. We shall have to destroy them.”

A rapping sounded at the airlock door – the code knock of one of Hawat’s corps.

“Come in,” Paul called.

The door swung wide and a tall man in Atreides uniform with a Hawat insignia on his cap leaned into the room. “There you are, sir,” he said. “The housekeeper said you’d be here.” He glanced around the room. “We found a cairn in the cellar and caught a man in it. He had a seeker console.”

“I’ll want to take part in the interrogation,” Jessica said.

“Sorry, my Lady. We messed him up catching him. He died.”

“Nothing to identify him?” she asked.

“We’ve found nothing yet, my Lady.”

“Was he an Arrakeen native?” Paul asked.



Jessica nodded at the astuteness of the question.

“He has the native look,” the man said. “Put into that cairn more’n a month ago, by the look, and left there to await our coming. Stone and mortar where he came through into the cellar were untouched when we inspected the place yesterday. I’ll stake my reputation on it.”

“No one questions your thoroughness,” Jessica said.

“I question it, my Lady. We should’ve used sonic probes down there.”

“I presume that’s what you’re doing now,” Paul said.

“Yes, sir.”

“Send word to my father that we’ll be delayed.”

“At once, sir.” He glanced at Jessica. “It’s Hawat’s order that under such circumstances as these the young master be guarded in a safe place.” Again, his eyes swept the room. “What of this place?”

“I’ve reason to believe it safe,” she said. “Both Hawat and I have inspected it.”

“Then I’ll mount guard outside here, m’Lady, until we’ve been over the house once more.” He bowed, touched his cap to Paul, backed out and swung the door closed behind him.

Paul broke the sudden silence, saying: “Had we better go over the house later ourselves? Your eyes might see things others would miss.”

“This wing was the only place I hadn’t examined,” she said. “I put if off to last because . . .”

“Because Hawat gave it his personal attention,” he said.

She darted a quick look at his face, questioning.

“Do you distrust Hawat?” she asked.

“No, but he’s getting old . . . he’s overworked. We could take some of the load from him.”

“That’d only shame him and impair his efficiency,” she said. “A stray insect won’t be able to wander into this wing after he hears about this. He’ll be shamed that . . .”

“We must take our own measures,” he said.

“Hawat has served three generations of Atreides with honor,” she said. “He deserves every respect and trust we can pay him . . . many times over.”

Paul said: “When my father is bothered by something you’ve done he says ‘Bene Gesserit!’ like a swear word.”

“And what is it about me that bothers your father?”



“When you argue with him.”

“You are not your father, Paul.”

And Paul thought: It’ll worry her, but I must tell her what that Mapes woman said about a traitor among us .

“What’re you holding back?” Jessica asked. “This isn’t like you, Paul.”

He shrugged, recounted the exchange with Mapes.

And Jessica thought of the message of the leaf. She came to sudden decision, showed Paul the leaf, told him its message.

“My father must learn of this at once,” he said. “I’ll radiograph it in code and get if off.”

“No,” she said. “You will wait until you can see him alone. As few as possible must learn about it.”

“Do you mean we should trust no one?”

“There’s another possibility,” she said. “This message may have been meant to get to us. The people who gave it to us may believe it’s true, but it may be that the only purpose was to get this message to us.”

Paul’s face remained sturdily somber. “To sow distrust and suspicion in our ranks, to weaken us that way,” he said.

“You must tell your father privately and caution him about this aspect of it, ” she said.

“I understand.”

She turned to the tall reach of filter glass, stared out to the southwest where the sun of Arrakis was sinking – a yellowed ball above the cliffs.

Paul turned with her, said: “I don’t think it’s Hawat, either. Is it possible it’s Yueh?”

“He’s not a lieutenant or companion,” she said. “And I can assure you he hates the Harkonnens as bitterly as we do.”

Paul directed his attention to the cliffs, thinking: And it couldn’t be Gurney . . . or Duncan . Could it be one of the sub-lieutenants? Impossible. They’re all from families that’ve been loyal to us for generations – for good reason .

Jessica rubbed her forehead, sensing her own fatigue. So much peril here! She looked out at the filter-yellowed landscape, studying it. Beyond the ducal grounds stretched a high-fenced storage yard – lines of spice silos in it with stilt-legged watchtowers standing around it like so many startled spiders. She could see at least twenty storage yards of silos reaching out to the cliffs of the Shield Wall – silos repeated, stuttering across the basin.



Slowly, the filtered sun buried itself beneath the horizon. Stars leaped out. She saw one bright star so low on the horizon that it twinkled with a clear, precise rhythm – a trembling of light: blink-blink-blink-blink-blink . . .

Paul stirred beside her in the dusky room.

But Jessica concentrated on that single bright star, realizing that it was too low, that it must come from the Shield Wall cliffs.

Someone signaling!

She tried to read the message, but it was in no code she had ever learned.

Other lights had come on down on the plain beneath the cliffs: little yellows spaced out against blue darkness. And one light off to their left grew brighter, began to wink back at the cliff – very fast: blinksquirt, glimmer, blink!

And it was gone.

The false star in the cliff winked out immediately.

Signals . . . and they filled her with premonition.

Why were lights used to signal across the basin? she asked herself. Why couldn’t they use the communications network?

The answer was obvious: the communinet was certain to be tapped now by agents of the Duke Leto. Light signals could only mean that messages were being sent between his enemies – between Harkonnen agents.

There came a tapping at the door behind them and the voice of Hawat’s man; “All clear, sir . . . m’Lady. Time to be getting the young master to his father.”

It is said that the Duke Leto blinded himself to the perils of Arrakis, that he walked heedlessly into the pit. Would it not be more likely to suggest he had lived so long in the presence of extreme danger he misjudged a change in its intensity? Or is it possible he deliberately sacrificed himself that his son might find a better life? All evidence indicates the Duke was a man not easily hoodwinked.

– from “Muad’Dib: Family Commentaries” by the Princess Irulan

The Duke Leto Atreides leaned against a parapet of the landing control tower outside Arrakeen. The night’s first moon, an oblate silver coin, hung well above the southern horizon. Beneath it, the jagged cliffs of the Shield Wall shone like parched icing through a dust haze. To his left, the lights of Arrakeen glowed in the haze – yellow . . . white . . . blue.



He thought of the notices posted now above his signature all through the populous places of the planet: “Our Sublime Padishah Emperor has charged me to take possession of this planet and end all dispute.”

The ritualistic formality of it touched him with a feeling of loneliness. Who was fooled by that fatuous legalism? Not the Fremen, certainly. Nor the Houses Minor who controlled the interior trade of Arrakis . . . and were Harkonnen creatures almost to a man .

They have tried to take the life of my son!

The rage was difficult to suppress.

He saw lights of a moving vehicle coming toward the landing field from Arrakeen. He hoped it was the guard and troop carrier bringing Paul. The delay was galling even though he knew it was prompted by caution on the part of Hawat’s lieutenant.

They have tried to take the life of my son!

He shook his head to drive out the angry thoughts, glanced back at the field where five of his own frigates were posted around the rim like monolithic sentries.

Better a cautious delay than . . .

The lieutenant was a good one, he reminded himself. A man marked for advancement, completely loyal.

“Our Sublime Padishah Emperor . . . ”

If the people of this decadent garrison city could only see the Emperor’s private note to his “Noble Duke” – the disdainful allusions to veiled men and women: ” – but what else is one to expect of barbarians whose dearest dream is to live outside the ordered security of the faufreluches?”

The Duke felt in this moment that his own dearest dream was to end all class distinctions and never again think of deadly order. He looked up and out of the dust at the unwinking stars, thought: Around one of those little lights circles Caladan . . . but I’ll never again see my home . The longing for Caladan was a sudden pain in his breast. He felt that it did not come from within himself, but that it reached out to him from Caladan. He could not bring himself to call this dry wasteland of Arrakis his home, and he doubted he ever would.

I must mask my feelings , he thought. For the boy’s sake. If ever he’s to have a home, this must be it. I may think of Arrakis as a hell I’ve reached before death, but he must find here that which will inspire him. There must be something .

A wave of self-pity, immediately despised and rejected, swept through him, and for some reason he found himself recalling two lines from a poem Gurney Halleck often repeated –

“My lungs taste the air of Time



Blown past falling sands . . . ”

Well, Gurney would find plenty of falling sands here, the Duke thought. The central wastelands beyond those moon-frosted cliffs were desert – barren rock, dunes, and blowing dust, an uncharted dry wilderness with here and there along its rim and perhaps scattered through it, knots of Fremen. If anything could buy a future for the Atreides line, the Fremen just might do it.

Provided the Harkonnens hadn’t managed to infect even the Fremen with their poisonous schemes.

They have tried to take the life of my son!

A scraping metal racket vibrated through the tower, shook the parapet beneath his arms. Blast shutters dropped in front of him, blocking the view.

Shuttle’s coming in , he thought. Time to go down and get to work . He turned to the stairs behind him, headed down to the big assembly room, trying to remain calm as he descended, to prepare his face for the coming encounter.

They have tried to take the life of my son!

The men were already boiling in from the field when he reached the yellow-domed room. They carried their spacebags over their shoulders, shouting and roistering like students returning from vacation.

“Hey! Feel that under your dogs? That’s gravity, man!” “How many G’s does this place pull? Feels heavy.” “Nine-tenths of a G by the book.”

The crossfire of thrown words filled the big room.

“Did you get a good look at this hole on the way down? Where’s all the loot this place’s supposed to have?” “The Harkonnens took it with ’em!” “Me for a hot shower and a soft bed!” “Haven’t you heard, stupid? No showers down here. You scrub your ass with sand!” “Hey! Can it! The Duke!”

The Duke stepped out of the stair entry into a suddenly silent room.

Gurney Halleck strode along at the point of the crowd, bag over one shoulder, the neck of his nine-string baliset clutched in the other hand. They were long-fingered hands with big thumbs, full of tiny movements that drew such delicate music from the baliset.

The Duke watched Halleck, admiring the ugly lump of a man, noting the glass-splinter eyes with their gleam of savage understanding. Here was a man who lived outside the faufreluches while obeying their every precept. What was it Paul had called him? “Gurney, the valorous .”

Halleck’s wispy blond hair trailed across barren spots on his head. His wide mouth was twisted into a pleasant sneer, and the scar of the inkvine whip slashed across his jawline seemed to move with a life of its own. His whole air was of casual, shoulder-set capability. He came up to the Duke, bowed.

“Gurney,” Leto said.

“My Lord.” He gestured with the baliset toward the men in the room. “This is the last of them. I’d have preferred coming in with the first wave, but . . . ”

“There are still some Harkonnens for you,” the Duke said. “Step aside with me, Gurney, where we may talk.”

“Yours to command, my Lord.”

They moved into an alcove beside a coil-slot water machine while the men stirred restlessly in the big room. Halleck dropped his bag into a corner, kept his grip on the baliset.

“How many men can you let Hawat have?” the Duke asked.

“Is Thufir in trouble Sire?”

“He’s lost only two agents, but his advance men gave us an excellent line on the entire Harkonnen setup here. If we move fast we may gain a measure of security, the breathing space we require. He wants as many men as you can spare – men who won’t balk at a little knife work.”

“I can let him have three hundred of my best,” Halleck said. “Where shall I send them?”

“To the main gate. Hawat has an agent there waiting to take them.”

“Shall I get about it at once, Sire?”

“In a moment. We have another problem. The field commandant will hold the shuttle here until dawn on a pretext. The Guild Heighliner that brought us is going on about its business, and the shuttle’s supposed to make contact with a cargo ship taking up a load of spice.”

“Our spice, m’Lord?”

“Our spice. But the shuttle also will carry some of the spice hunters from the old regime. They’ve opted to leave with the change of fief and the Judge of the Change is allowing it. These are valuable workers, Gurney, about eight hundred of them. Before the shuttle leaves, you must persuade some of those men to enlist with us.”

“How strong a persuasion, Sire?”

“I want their willing cooperation, Gurney. Those men have experience and skills we need. The fact that they’re leaving suggests they’re not part of the Harkonnen machine. Hawat believes there could be some bad ones planted in the group, but he sees assassins in every shadow.”

“Thufir has found some very productive shadows in his time, m’Lord.”



“And there are some he hasn’t found. But I think planting sleepers in this outgoing crowd would show too much imagination for the Harkonnens.”

“Possibly, Sire. Where are these men?”

“Down on the lower level, in a waiting room. I suggest you go down and play a tune or two to soften their minds, then turn on the pressure. You may offer positions of authority to those who qualify. Offer twenty per cent higher wages than they received under the Harkonnens.”

“No more than that, Sire? I know the Harkonnen pay scales. And to men with their termination pay in their pockets and the wanderlust on them . . . well Sire, twenty per cent would hardly seem proper inducement to stay.”

Leto spoke impatiently: “Then use your own discretion in particular cases. Just remember that the treasury isn’t bottomless. Hold it to twenty per cent whenever you can. We particularly need spice drivers, weather scanners, dune men – any with open sand experience.”

“I understand, Sire. ‘They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity of the sand.’ ”

“A very moving quotation,” the Duke said. “Turn your crew over to a lieutenant. Have him give a short drill on water discipline, then bed the men down for the night in the barracks adjoining the field. Field personnel will direct them. And don’t forget the men for Hawat.”

“Three hundred of the best, Sire.” He took up his spacebag. “Where shall I report to you when I’ve completed my chores?”

“I’ve taken over a council room topside here. We’ll hold staff there. I want to arrange a new planetary dispersal order with armored squads going out first.”

Halleck stopped in the act of turning away, caught Leto’s eye. “Are you anticipating that kind of trouble, Sire? I thought there was a Judge of the Change here.”

“Both open battle and secret,” the Duke said. “There’ll be blood aplenty spilled here before we’re through.”

” ‘And the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land,’ ” Halleck quoted.

The Duke sighed. “Hurry back, Gurney.”

“Very good, m’Lord.” The whipscar rippled to his grin. ” ‘Behold, as a wild ass in the desert, go I forth to my work.’ ” He turned, strode to the center of the room, paused to relay his orders, hurried on through the men.

Leto shook his head at the retreating back. Halleck was a continual amazement – a head full of songs, quotations, and flowery phrases . . . and the heart of an assassin when it came to dealing with the Harkonnens.

Presently, Leto took a leisurely diagonal course across to the lift, acknowledging salutes with a casual hand wave. He recognized a propaganda corpsman, stopped to give him a message that could be relayed to the men through channels: those who had brought their women would want to know the women were safe and where they could be found. The others would wish to know that the population here appeared to boast more women than men.

The Duke slapped the propaganda man on the arm, a signal that the message had top priority to be put out immediately, then continued across the room. He nodded to the men, smiled, traded pleasantries with a subaltern.

Command must always look confident , he thought. All that faith riding on your shoulders while you sit in the critical seat and never show it .

He breathed a sigh of relief when the lift swallowed him and he could turn and face the impersonal doors.

They have tried to take the life of my son!

Over the exit of the Arrakeen landing field, crudely carved as though with a poor instrument, there was an inscription that Muad’Dib was to repeat many times. He saw it that first night on Arrakis, having been brought to the ducal command post to participate in his father’s first full staff conference. The words of the inscription were a plea to those leaving Arrakis, but they fell with dark import on the eyes of a boy who had just escaped a close brush with death. They said: “O you who know what we suffer here, do not forget us in your prayers. ”

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

“The whole theory of warfare is calculated risk,” the Duke said, “but when it comes to risking your own family, the element of calculation gets submerged in – other things.”

He knew he wasn’t holding in his anger as well as he should, and he turned, strode down the length of the long table and back.

The Duke and Paul were alone in the conference room at the landing field. It was an empty-sounding room, furnished only with the long table, old-fashioned three-legged chairs around it, and a map board and projector at one end. Paul sat at the table near the map board. He had told his father the experience with the hunter-seeker and given the reports that a traitor threatened him.



The Duke stopped across from Paul, pounded the table: “Hawat told me that house was secure!”

Paul spoke hesitantly: “I was angry, too – at first. And I blamed Hawat. But the threat came from outside the house. It was simple, clever, and direct. And it would’ve succeeded were it not for the training given me by you and many others – including Hawat.”

“Are you defending him?” the Duke demanded.


“He’s getting old. That’s it. He should be – ”

“He’s wise with much experience,” Paul said. “How many of Hawat’s mistakes can you recall?”

“I should be the one defending him,” the Duke said. “Not you.”

Paul smiled.

Leto sat down at the head of the table, put a hand over his son’s. “You’ve . . . matured lately, Son.” He lifted his hand. “It gladdens me.” He matched his son’s smile. “Hawat will punish himself. He’ll direct more anger against himself over this than both of us together could pour on him.”

Paul glanced toward the darkened windows beyond the map board, looked at the night’s blackness. Room lights reflected from a balcony railing out there. He saw movement and recognized the shape of a guard in Atreides uniform. Paul looked back at the white wall behind his father, then down to the shiny surface of the table, seeing his own hands clenched into fists there.

The door opposite the Duke banged open. Thufir Hawat strode through it looking older and more leathery than ever. He paced down the length of the table, stopped at attention facing Leto.

“My Lord,” he said, speaking to a point over Leto’s head, “I have just learned how I failed you. It becomes necessary that I tender my resig – ”

“Oh, sit down and stop acting the fool,” the Duke said. He waved to the chair across from Paul. “If you made a mistake, it was in over estimating the Harkonnens. Their simple minds came up with a simple trick. We didn’t count on simple tricks. And my son has been at great pains to point out to me that he came through this largely because of your training. You didn’t fail there!” He tapped the back of the empty chair. “Sit down, I say!”

Hawat sank into the chair. “But – ”

“I’ll hear no more of it,” the Duke said. “The incident is past. We have more pressing business. Where are the others?”

“I asked them to wait outside while I – ”

“Call them in.”

Hawat looked into Leto’s eyes. “Sire, I – ”

“I know who my true friends are, Thufir,” the Duke said. “Call in the men.”

Hawat swallowed. “At once, my Lord.” He swiveled in the chair, called to the open door: “Gurney, bring them in.”

Halleck led the file of men into the room, the staff officers looking grimly serious followed by the younger aides and specialists, an air of eagerness among them. Brief scuffing sounds echoed around the room as the men took seats. A faint smell of rachag stimulant wafted down the table.

“There’s coffee for those who want it,” the Duke said.

He looked over his men, thinking: They’re a good crew. A man could do far worse for this kind of war . He waited while coffee was brought in from the adjoining room and served, noting the tiredness in some of the faces.

Presently, he put on his mask of quiet efficiency, stood up and commanded their attention with a knuckle rap against the table.

“Well, gentlemen,” he said, “our civilization appears to’ve fallen so deeply into the habit of invasion that we cannot even obey a simple order of the Imperium without the old ways cropping up.”

Dry chuckles sounded around the table, and Paul realized that his father had said the precisely correct thing in precisely the correct tone to lift the mood here. Even the hint of fatigue in his voice was right.

“I think first we’d better learn if Thufir has anything to add to his report on the Fremen,” the Duke said. “Thufir?”

Hawat glanced up. “I’ve some economic matters to go into after my general report, Sire, but I can say now that the Fremen appear more and more to be the allies we need. They’re waiting now to see if they can trust us, but they appear to be dealing openly. They’ve sent us a gift – stillsuits of their own manufacture . . . maps of certain desert areas surrounding strongpoints the Harkonnens left behind – ” He glanced down at the table. “Their intelligence reports have proved completely reliable and have helped us considerably in our dealings with the Judge of the Change. They’ve also sent some incidental things – jewelry for the Lady Jessica, spice liquor, candy, medicinals. My men are processing the lot right now. There appears to be no trickery.”

“You like these people, Thufir?” asked a man down the table.

Hawat turned to face his questioner. “Duncan Idaho says they’re to be admired.”



Paul glanced at his father, back to Hawat, ventured a question: “Have you any new information on how many Fremen there are?”

Hawat looked at Paul. “From food processing and other evidence, Idaho estimates the cave complex he visited consisted of some ten thousand people, all told. Their leader said he ruled a sietch of two thousand hearths. We’ve reason to believe there are a great many such sietch communities. All seem to give their allegiance to someone called Liet.”

“That’s something new,” Leto said.

“It could be an error on my part, Sire. There are things to suggest this Liet may be a local deity.”

Another man down the table cleared his throat, asked: “Is it certain they deal with the smugglers?”

“A smuggler caravan left this sietch while Idaho was there, carrying a heavy load of spice. They used pack beasts and indicated they faced an eighteen-day journey.”

“It appears,” the Duke said, “that the smugglers have redoubled their operations during this period of unrest. This deserves some careful thought. We shouldn’t worry too much about unlicensed frigates working off our planet – it’s always done. But to have them completely outside our observation – that’s not good.”

“You have a plan. Sire,” Hawat asked.

The Duke looked at Halleck. “Gurney, I want you to head a delegation, an embassy if you will, to contact these romantic businessmen. Tell them I’ll ignore their operations as long as they give me a ducal tithe. Hawat here estimates that graft and extra fighting men heretofore required in their operations have been costing them four times that amount.”

“What if the Emperor gets wind of this?” Halleck asked. “He’s very jealous of his CHOAM profits, m’Lord.”

Leto smiled. “We’ll bank the entire tithe openly in the name of Shaddam IV and deduct it legally from our levy support costs. Let the Harkonnens fight that! And we’ll be ruining a few more of the locals who grew fat under the Harkonnen system. No more graft!”

A grin twisted Halleck’s face. “Ahh, m’Lord, a beautiful low blow. Would that I could see the Baron’s face when he learns of this.”

The Duke turned to Hawat. “Thufir, did you get those account books you said you could buy?”

“Yes, my Lord. They’re being examined in detail even now. I’ve skimmed them, though, and can give a first approximation.”

“Give it, then.”

“The Harkonnens took ten billion Solaris out of here every three hundred and thirty Standard days.”

A muted gasp ran around the table. Even the younger aides, who had been betraying some boredom, sat up straighter and exchanged wide-eyed looks.

Halleck murmured: ” ‘For they shall suck of the abundance of the seas and of the treasure hid in the sand.’ ”

“You see, gentlemen,” Leto said. “Is there anyone here so naive he believes the Harkonnens have quietly packed up and walked away from all this merely because the Emperor ordered it?”

There was a general shaking of heads, murmurous agreement.

“We will have to take it at the point of the sword,” Leto said. He turned to Hawat. “This’d be a good point to report on equipment. How many sandcrawlers, harvesters, spice factories, and supporting equipment have they left us?”

“A full complement, as it says in the Imperial inventory audited by the Judge of the Change, my Lord,” Hawat said. He gestured for an aide to pass him a folder, opened the folder on the table in front of him. “They neglect to mention that less than half the crawlers are operable, that only about a third have carryalls to fly them to spice sands – that everything the Harkonnens left us is ready to break down and fall apart. We’ll be lucky to get half the equipment into operation and luckier yet if a fourth of it’s still working six months from now.”

“Pretty much as we expected,” Leto said. “What’s the firm estimate on basic equipment?”

Hawat glanced at his folder. “About nine hundred and thirty harvester-factories that can be sent out in a few days. About sixty-two hundred and fifty ornithopters for survey, scouting, and weather observation . . . carryalls, a little under a thousand.”

Halleck said: “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to reopen negotiations with the Guild for permission to orbit a frigate as a weather satellite?”

The Duke looked at Hawat. “Nothing new there, eh, Thufir?”

“We must pursue other avenues for now,” Hawat said. “The Guild agent wasn’t really negotiating with us. He was merely making it plain – one Mentat to another – that the price was out of our reach and would remain so no matter how long a reach we develop. Our task is to find out why before we approach him again.”

One of Halleck’s aides down the table swiveled in his chair, snapped: “There’s no justice in this!”

“Justice?” The Duke looked at the man. “Who asks for justice? We make our own justice. We make it here on Arrakis – win or die. Do you regret casting your lot with us, sir?”

The man stared at the Duke, then: “No, Sire. You couldn’t turn and I could do nought but follow you. Forgive the outburst, but . . .” He shrugged. ” . . . we must all feel bitter at times.”



“Bitterness I understand,” the Duke said. “But let us not rail about justice as long as we have arms and the freedom to use them. Do any of the rest of you harbor bitterness? If so, let it out. This is friendly council where any man may speak his mind.”

Halleck stirred, said: “I think what rankles, Sire, is that we’ve had no volunteers from the other Great Houses. They address you as ‘Leto the Just’ and promise eternal friendship, but only as long as it doesn’t cost them anything.”

“They don’t know yet who’s going to win this exchange,” the Duke said. “Most of the Houses have grown fat by taking few risks. One cannot truly blame them for this; one can only despise them.” He looked at Hawat. “We were discussing equipment. Would you care to project a few examples to familiarize the men with this machinery?”

Hawat nodded, gestured to an aide at the projector.

A solido tri-D projection appeared on the table surface about a third of the way down from the Duke. Some of the men farther along the table stood up to get a better look at it.

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