Chapter no 9


“Of course, it’s true!” the Duke snapped. “The blasted carry-all disappeared. It shouldn’t be possible for anything that big to disappear!”

“When the worm came, there was nothing to recover the crawler,” Kynes said.

“It should not be possible!” the Duke repeated.




“No one saw the carryall leave?” the banker asked.

“Spotters customarily keep their eyes on the sand,” Kynes said. “They’re primarily interested in wormsign. A carryall’s complement usually is four men – two pilots and two journeymen attachers. If one – or even two of this crew were in the pay of the Duke’s foes – ”

“Ah-h-h, I see,” the banker said. “And you, as Judge of the Change, do you challenge this?”

“I shall have to consider my position carefully,” Kynes said, “and I certainly will not discuss it at table.” And he thought: That pale skeleton of a man! He knows this is the kind of infraction I was instructed to ignore .

The banker smiled, returned his attention to his food.

Jessica sat remembering a lecture from her Bene Gesserit school days. The subject had been espionage and counter-espionage. A plump, happy-faced Reverend Mother had been the lecturer, her jolly voice contrasting weirdly with the subject matter.

A thing to note about any espionage and/or counter-espionage school is the similar basic reaction pattern of all its graduates. Any enclosed discipline sets its stamp, its pattern, upon its students. That pattern is susceptible to analysis and prediction.

“Now, motivational patterns are going to be similar among all espionage agents. That is to say: there will be certain types of motivation that are similar despite differing schools or opposed aims. You will study first how to separate this element for your analysis – in the beginning, through interrogation patterns that betray the inner orientation of the interrogators; secondly, by close observation of language-thought orientation of those under analysis. You will find it fairly simple to determine the root languages of your subjects, of course, both through voice inflection and speech pattern .”

Now, sitting at table with her son and her Duke and their guests, hearing that Guild Bank representative, Jessica felt a chill of realization: the man was a Harkonnen agent. He had the Giedi Prime speech pattern – subtly masked, but exposed to her trained awareness as though he had announced himself.

Does this mean the Guild itself has taken sides against House Atreides? she asked herself. The thought shocked her, and she masked her emotion by calling for a new dish, all the while listening for the man to betray his purpose. He will shift the conversation next to something seemingly innocent, but with ominous overtones , she told herself. It’s his pattern .

The banker swallowed, took a sip of wine, smiled at something said to him by the woman on his right. He seemed to listen for a moment to a man down the table who was explaining to the Duke that native Arrakeen plants had no thorns.

“I enjoy watching the flights of birds on Arrakis,” the banker said, directing his words at Jessica. “All of our birds, of course, are carrion-eaters, and many exist without water, having become blood-drinkers.”

The stillsuit manufacturer’s daughter, seated between Paul and his father at the other end of the table, twisted her pretty face into a frown, said: “Oh, Soo-Soo, you say the most disgusting things.”

The banker smiled. “They call me Soo-Soo because I’m financial adviser to the Water Peddlers Union.” And, as Jessica continued to look at him without comment, he added: “Because of the water-sellers’ cry – ‘Soo-Soo Sook!’ ” And he imitated the call with such accuracy that many around the table laughed.

Jessica heard the boastful tone of voice, but noted most that the young woman had spoken on cue – a set piece. She had produced the excuse for the banker to say what he had said. She glanced at Lingar Bewt. The water magnate was scowling, concentrating on his dinner. It came to Jessica that the banker had said: “I, too, control that ultimate source of power on Arrakis – water .”

Paul had marked the falseness in his dinner companion’s voice, saw that his mother was following the conversation with Bene Gesserit intensity. On impulse, he decided to play the foil, draw the exchange out. He addressed himself to the banker.

“Do you mean, sir, that these birds are cannibals?”




“That’s an odd question, young Master,” the banker said. “I merely said the birds drink blood. It doesn’t have to be the blood of their own kind, does it?”

“It was not an odd question,” Paul said, and Jessica noted the brittle riposte quality of her training exposed in his voice. “Most educated people know that the worst potential competition for any young organism can come from its own kind.” He deliberately forked a bite of food from his companion’s plate, ate it. “They are eating from the same bowl. They have the same basic requirements.”

The banker stiffened, scowled at the Duke.

“Do not make the error of considering my son a child,” the Duke said. And he smiled.

Jessica glanced around the table, noted that Bewt had brightened, that both Kynes and the smuggler, Tuek, were grinning.

“It’s a rule of ecology,” Kynes said, “that the young Master appears to understand quite well. The struggle between life elements is the struggle for the free energy of a system. Blood’s an efficient energy source.”

The banker put down his fork, spoke in an angry voice: “It’s said that the Fremen scum drink the blood of their dead.”

Kynes shook his head, spoke in a lecturing tone: “Not the blood, sir. But all of a man’s water, ultimately, belongs to his people – to his tribe. It’s a necessity when you live near the Great Flat. All water’s precious there, and the human body is composed of some seventy per cent water by weight. A dead man, surely, no longer requires that water.”

The banker put both hands against the table beside his plate, and Jessica thought he was going to push himself back, leave in a rage.

Kynes looked at Jessica. “Forgive me, my Lady, for elaborating on such an ugly subject at table, but you were being told falsehood and it needed clarifying.”

“You’ve associated so long with Fremen that you’ve lost all sensibilities,” the banker rasped.

Kynes looked at him calmly, studied the pale, trembling face. “Are you challenging me, sir?”

The banker froze. He swallowed, spoke stiffly: “Of course not. I’d not so insult our host and hostess.”

Jessica heard the fear in the man’s voice, saw it in his face, in his breathing, in the pulse of a vein at his temple. The man was terrified of Kynes!

“Our host and hostess are quite capable of deciding for themselves when they’ve been insulted,” Kynes said. “They’re brave people who understand defense of honor. We all may attest to their courage by the fact that they are here . . . now . . . on Arrakis.”

Jessica saw that Leto was enjoying this. Most of the others were not. People all around the table sat poised for flight, hands out of sight under the table. Two notable exceptions were Bewt, who was openly smiling at the banker’s discomfiture, and the smuggler, Tuek, who appeared to be watching Kynes for a cue. Jessica saw that Paul was looking at Kynes in admiration.

“Well?” Kynes said.

“I meant no offense,” the banker muttered. “If offense was taken, please accept my apologies.”

“Freely given, freely accepted,” Kynes said. He smiled at Jessica, resumed eating as though nothing had happened.

Jessica saw that the smuggler, too, had relaxed. She marked this: the man had shown every aspect of an aide ready to leap to Kynes’ assistance. There existed an accord of some sort between Kynes and Tuek.

Leto toyed with a fork, looked speculatively at Kynes. The Geologist’s manner indicated a change in attitude toward the House of Atreides. Kynes had seemed colder on their trip over the desert.

Jessica signaled for another course of food and drink. Servants appeared with langues de lapins de garenne  – red wine and a sauce of mushroom-yeast on the side.

Slowly, the dinner conversation resumed, but Jessica heard the agitation in it, the brittle quality, saw that the banker ate in sullen silence. Kynes would have killed him without hesitating , she thought. And she realized that there was an offhand attitude toward killing in Kynes’ manner. He was a casual killer, and she guessed that this was a Fremen quality.

Jessica turned to the stillsuit manufacturer on her left, said: “I find myself continually amazed by the importance of water on Arrakis.”

“Very important,” he agreed. “What is this dish? It’s delicious.”




“Tongues of wild rabbit in a special sauce,” she said. “A very old recipe.”

“I must have that recipe,” the man said.

She nodded. “I’ll see that you get it.”

Kynes looked at Jessica, said: “The newcomer to Arrakis frequently underestimates the importance of water here. You are dealing, you see, with the Law of the Minimum.”

She heard the testing quality in his voice, said, “Growth is limited by that necessity which is present in the least amount. And, naturally, the least favorable condition controls the growth rate.”

“It’s rare to find members of a Great House aware of planetological problems,” Kynes said. “Water is the least favorable condition for life on Arrakis. And remember that growth itself can produce unfavorable conditions unless treated with extreme care.”

Jessica sensed a hidden message in Kynes’ words, but knew she was missing it. “Growth,” she said. “Do you mean Arrakis can have an orderly cycle of water to sustain human life under more favorable conditions?”

“Impossible!” the water magnate barked.

Jessica turned her attention to Bewt. “Impossible?”

“Impossible on Arrakis,” he said. “Don’t listen to this dreamer. All the laboratory evidence is against him.”

Kynes looked at Bewt, and Jessica noted that the other conversations around the table had stopped while people concentrated on this new interchange.

“Laboratory evidence tends to blind us to a very simple fact,” Kynes said. “That fact is this: we are dealing here with matters that originated and exist out-of-doors where plants and animals carry on their normal existence.”

“Normal!” Bewt snorted. “Nothing about Arrakis is normal!”

“Quite the contrary,” Kynes said. “Certain harmonies could be set up here along self-sustaining lines. You merely have to understand the limits of the planet and the pressures upon it.”

“It’ll never be done,” Bewt said.

The Duke came to a sudden realization, placing the point where Kynes’ attitude had changed – it had been when Jessica had spoken of holding the conservatory plants in trust for Arrakis.

“What would it take to set up the self-sustaining system, Doctor Kynes?” Leto asked.

“If we can get three per cent of the green plant element on Arrakis involved in forming carbon compounds as foodstuffs, we’ve started the cyclic system,” Kynes said.

“Water’s the only problem?” the Duke asked. He sensed Kynes’ excitement, felt himself caught up in it.

“Water overshadows the other problems,” Kynes said. “This planet has much oxygen without its usual concomitants – widespread plant life and large sources of free carbon dioxide from such phenomena as volcanoes. There are unusual chemical interchanges over large surface areas here.”

“Do you have pilot projects?” the Duke asked.

“We’ve had a long time in which to build up the Tansley Effect – small-unit experiments on an amateur basis from which my science may now draw its working facts.” Kynes said.

“There isn’t enough water,” Bewt said. “There just isn’t enough water.”

“Master Bewt is an expert on water,” Kynes said. He smiled, turned back to his dinner.

The Duke gestured sharply down with his right hand, barked: “No! I want an answer! Is there enough water, Doctor Kynes?”

Kynes stared at his plate.

Jessica watched the play of emotion on his face. He masks himself well , she thought, but she had him registered now and read that he regretted his words.

“Is there enough water?” the Duke demanded.

“There . . . maybe,” Kynes said.

He’s faking uncertainty! Jessica thought.

With his deeper truthsense, Paul caught the underlying motive, had to use every ounce of his training to mask his excitement. There is enough water! But Kynes doesn’t wish it to be known .




“Our planetologist has many interesting dreams,” Bewt said. “He dreams with the Fremen – of prophecies and messiahs.”

Chuckles sounded at odd places around the table. Jessica marked them – the smuggler, the stillsuit manufacturer’s daughter, Duncan Idaho, the woman with the mysterious escort service.

Tensions are oddly distributed here tonight , Jessica thought. There’s too much going on of which I’m not aware. I’ll have to develop new information sources .

The Duke passed his gaze from Kynes to Bewt to Jessica. He felt oddly let down, as though something vital had passed him here. “May be,” he muttered.

Kynes spoke quickly: “Perhaps we should discuss this another time, my Lord. There are so many – ”

The planetologist broke off as an uniformed Atreides trooper hurried in through the service door, was passed by the guard and rushed to the Duke’s side. The man bent, whispering into Leto’s ear.

Jessica recognized the capsign of Hawat’s corps, fought down uneasiness. She addressed herself to the stillsuit manufacturer’s feminine companion – a tiny, dark-haired woman with a doll face, a touch of epicanthic fold to the eyes.

“You’ve hardly touched your dinner, my dear,” Jessica said. “May I order you something?”

The woman looked at the stillsuit manufacturer before answering, then: “I’m not very hungry.”

Abruptly, the Duke stood up beside his trooper, spoke in a harsh tone of command: “Stay seated, everyone. You will have to forgive me, but a matter has arisen that requires my personal attention.” He stepped aside. “Paul, take over as host for me, if you please.”

Paul stood, wanting to ask why his father had to leave, knowing he had to play this with the grand manner. He moved around to his father’s chair, sat down in it.

The Duke turned to the alcove where Halleck sat, said: “Gurney, please take Paul’s place at table. We mustn’t have an odd number here. When the dinner’s over, I may want you to bring Paul to the field C.P. Wait for my call.”

Halleck emerged from the alcove in dress uniform, his lumpy ugliness seeming out of place in the glittering finery. He leaned his baliset against the wall, crossed to the chair Paul had occupied, sat down.

“There’s no need for alarm,” the Duke said, “but I must ask that no one leave until our house guard says it’s safe. You will be perfectly secure as long as you remain here, and we’ll have this little trouble cleared up very shortly.”

Paul caught the code words in his father’s message – guard-safe-secure-shortly . The problem was security, not violence. He saw that his mother had read the same message. They both relaxed.

The Duke gave a short nod, wheeled and strode through the service door followed by his trooper.

Paul said: “Please go on with your dinner. I believe Doctor Kynes was discussing water.”

“May we discuss it another time?” Kynes asked.




“By all means,” Paul said.

And Jessica noted with pride her son’s dignity, the mature sense of assurance.

The banker picked up his water flagon, gestured with it at Bewt. “None of us here can surpass Master Lingar Bewt in flowery phrases. One might almost assume he aspired to Great House status. Come, Master Bewt, lead us in a toast. Perhaps you’ve a dollop of wisdom for the boy who must be treated like a man.”

Jessica clenched her right hand into a fist beneath the table. She saw a handsignal pass from Halleck to Idaho , saw the house troopers along the walls move into positions of maximum guard.

Bewt cast a venomous glare at the banker.

Paul glanced at Halleck, took in the defensive positions of his guards, looked at the banker until the man lowered the water flagon. He said: “Once, on Caladan, I saw the body of a drowned fisherman recovered. He – ”

“Drowned?” It was the stillsuit manufacturer’s daughter.

Paul hesitated, then: “Yes. Immersed in water until dead. Drowned.”

“What an interesting way to die,” she murmured.

Paul’s smile became brittle. He returned his attention to the banker. “The interesting thing about this man was the wounds on his shoulders – made by another fisherman’s claw-boots. This fisherman was one of several in a boat – a craft for traveling on water – that foundered . . . sank beneath the water. Another fisherman helping recover the body said he’d seen marks like this man’s wounds several times. They meant another drowning fisherman had tried to stand on this poor fellow’s shoulders in the attempt to reach up to the surface – to reach air.”

“Why is this interesting?” the banker asked.

“Because of an observation made by my father at the time. He said the drowning man who climbs on your shoulders to save himself is understandable – except when you see it happen in the drawing room.” Paul hesitated just long enough for the banker to see the point coming, then: “And, I should add, except when you see it at the dinner table.”

A sudden stillness enfolded the room.

That was rash , Jessica thought. This banker might have enough rank to call my son out . She saw that Idaho was poised for instant action. The House troopers were alert. Gurney Halleck had his eyes on the men opposite him.

“Ho-ho-ho-o-o-o!” It was the smuggler, Tuek, head thrown back laughing with complete abandon.

Nervous smiles appeared around the table.




Bewt was grinning.

The banker had pushed his chair back, was glaring at Paul.

Kynes said: “One baits an Atreides at his own risk.”

“Is it Atreides custom to insult their guests?” the banker demanded.

Before Paul could answer, Jessica leaned forward, said: “Sir!” And she thought: We must learn this Harkonnen creature’s game. Is he here to try for Paul? Does he have help?

“My son displays a general garment and you claim it’s cut to your fit?” Jessica asked. “What a fascinating revelation.” She slid a hand down to her leg to the crysknife she had fastened in a calf-sheath.

The banker turned his glare on Jessica. Eyes shifted away from Paul and she saw him ease himself back from the table, freeing himself for action. He had focused on the code word: garment. “Prepare for violence . ”

Kynes directed a speculative look at Jessica, gave a subtle hand signal to Tuek.

The smuggler lurched to his feet, lifted his flagon. “I’ll give you a toast,” he said. “To young Paul Atreides, still a lad by his looks, but a man by his actions.”

Why do they intrude? Jessica asked herself.

The banker stared now at Kynes, and Jessica saw terror return to the agent’s face.

People began responding all around the table.

Where Kynes leads, people follow , Jessica thought. He has told us he sides with Paul. What’s the secret of his power? It can’t be because he’s Judge of the Change. That’s temporary. And certainly not because he’s a civil servant .

She removed her hand from the crysknife hilt, lifted her flagon to Kynes, who responded in kind.

Only Paul and the banker – (Soo-Soo! What an idiotic nickname! Jessica thought.) – remained empty-handed. The banker’s attention stayed fixed on Kynes. Paul stared at his plate.

I was handling it correctly , Paul thought. Why do they interfere? He glanced covertly at the male guests nearest him. Prepare for violence? From whom? Certainly not from that banker fellow.

Halleck stirred, spoke as though to no one in particular, directing his words over the heads of the guests across from him: “In our society, people shouldn’t be quick to take offense. It’s frequently suicidal.” He looked at the stillsuit manufacturer’s daughter beside him. “Don’t you think so, miss?”

“Oh, yes. Yes. Indeed I do,” She said. “There’s too much violence. It makes me sick. And lots of times no offense is meant, but people die anyway. It doesn’t make sense.”

“Indeed it doesn’t,” Halleck said.

Jessica saw the near perfection of the girl’s act, realized: That empty-headed little female is not an empty-headed little female . She saw then the pattern of the threat and understood that Halleck, too, had detected it. They had planned to lure Paul with sex. Jessica relaxed. Her son had probably been the first to see it – his training hadn’t overlooked that obvious gambit.

Kynes spoke to the banker: “Isn’t another apology in order?”




The banker turned a sickly grin toward Jessica, said: “My Lady, I fear I’ve overindulged in your wines. You serve potent drink at table, and I’m not accustomed to it.”

Jessica heard the venom beneath his tone, spoke sweetly: “When strangers meet, great allowance should be made for differences of custom and training.”

“Thank you, my Lady,” he said.

The dark-haired companion of the stillsuit manufacturer leaned toward Jessica, said: “The Duke spoke of our being secure here. I do hope that doesn’t mean more fighting.”

She was directed to lead the conversation this way , Jessica thought.

“Likely this will prove unimportant,” Jessica said. “But there’s so much detail requiring the Duke’s personal attention in these times. As long as enmity continues between Atreides and Harkonnen we cannot be too careful. The Duke has sworn kanly. He will leave no Harkonnen agent alive on Arrakis, of course.” She glanced at the Guild Bank agent. “And the Conventions, naturally, support him in this.” She shifted her attention to Kynes. “Is this not so, Dr. Kynes?”

“Indeed it is,” Kynes said.

The stillsuit manufacturer pulled his companion gently back. She looked at him, said: “I do believe I’ll eat something now. I’d like some of that bird dish you served earlier.”

Jessica signaled a servant, turned to the banker: “And you, sir, were speaking of birds earlier and of their habits. I find so many interesting things about Arrakis. Tell me, where is the spice found? Do the hunters go deep into the desert?”

“Oh, no, my Lady,” he said. “Very little’s known of the deep desert. And almost nothing of the southern regions.”

“There’s a tale that a great Mother Lode of spice is to be found in the southern reaches,” Kynes said, “but I suspect it was an imaginative invention made solely for purposes of a song. Some daring spice hunters do, on occasion, penetrate into the edge of the central belt, but that’s extremely dangerous – navigation is uncertain, storms are frequent. Casualties increase dramatically the farther you operate from Shield Wall bases. It hasn’t been found profitable to venture too far south. Perhaps if we had a weather satellite . . .”

Bewt looked up, spoke around a mouthful of food: “It’s said the Fremen travel there, that they go anywhere and have hunted out soaks and sip-wells even in the southern latitudes.”

“Soaks and sip-wells?” Jessica asked.




Kynes spoke quickly: “Wild rumors, my Lady. These are known on other planets, not on Arrakis. A soak is a place where water seeps to the surface or near enough to the surface to be found by digging according to certain signs. A sip-well is a form of soak where a person draws water through a straw . . . so it is said.”

There’s deception in his words , Jessica thought.

Why is he lying? Paul wondered.

“How very interesting,” Jessica said. And she thought. “It is said . . .” What a curious speech mannerism they have here. If they only knew what it reveals about their dependence on superstitions .

“I’ve heard you have a saying,” Paul said, “that polish comes from the cities, wisdom from the desert.”

“There are many sayings on Arrakis,” Kynes said.

Before Jessica could frame a new question, a servant bent over her with a note. She opened it, saw the Duke’s handwriting and code signs, scanned it.

“You’ll all be delighted to know,” she said, “that our Duke sends his reassurances. The matter which called him away has been settled. The missing carryall has been found. A Harkonnen agent in the crew overpowered the others and flew the machine to a smugglers’ base, hoping to sell it there. Both man and machine were turned over to our forces.” She nodded to Tuek.

The smuggler nodded back.

Jessica refolded the note, tucked it into her sleeve.

“I’m glad it didn’t come to open battle,” the banker said. “The people have such hopes the Atreides will bring peace and prosperity.”

“Especially prosperity,” Bewt said.

“Shall we have our dessert now?” Jessica asked. “I’ve had our chef prepare a Caladan sweet: pongi rice in sauce dolsa.”

“It sounds wonderful,” the stillsuit manufacturer said. “Would it be possible to get the recipe?”

“Any recipe you desire,” Jessica said, registering the man for later mention to Hawat. The stillsuit manufacturer was a fearful little climber and could be bought.

Small talk resumed around her: “Such a lovely fabric . . .” “He is having a setting made to match the jewel . . .” “We might try for a production increase next quarter . . .”




Jessica stared down at her plate, thinking of the coded part of Leto’s message: “The Harkonnens tried to get in a shipment of lasguns. We captured them. This may mean they’ve succeeded with other shipments. It certainly means they don’t place much store in shields. Take appropriate precautions .”

Jessica focused her mind on lasguns, wondering. The white-hot beams of disruptive light could cut through any known substance, provided that substance was not shielded. The fact that feedback from a shield would explode both lasgun and shield did not bother the Harkonnens. Why? A lasgun-shield explosion was a dangerous variable, could be more powerful than atomics, could kill only the gunner and his shielded target.

The unknowns here filled her with uneasiness.

Paul said: “I never doubted we’d find the carryall. Once my father moves to solve a problem, he solves it. This is a fact the Harkonnens are beginning to discover.”

He’s boasting , Jessica thought. He shouldn’t boast. No person who’ll be sleeping far below ground level this night as a precaution against lasguns has the right to boast .

“There is no escape – we pay for the violence of our ancestors. ”

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

Jessica heard the disturbance in the great hall, turned on the light beside her bed. The clock there had not been properly adjusted to local time, and she had to subtract twenty-one minutes to determine that it was about 2 A.M.

The disturbance was loud and incoherent.

Is this the Harkonnen attack? she wondered.

She slipped out of bed, checked the screen monitors to see where her family was. The screen showed Paul asleep in the deep cellar room they’d hastily converted to a bedroom for him. The noise obviously wasn’t penetrating to his quarters. There was no one in the Duke’s room, his bed was unrumpled. Was he still at the field C.P.?

There were no screens yet to the front of the house.

Jessica stood in the middle of her room, listening.

There was one shouting, incoherent voice. She heard someone call for Dr. Yueh. Jessica found a robe, pulled it over her shoulders, pushed her feet into slippers, strapped the crysknife to her leg.

Again, a voice called out for Yueh.

Jessica belted the robe around her, stepped into the hallway. Then the thought struck her: What if Leto’s hurt?

The hall seemed to stretch out forever under her running feet. She turned through the arch at the end, dashed past the dining hall and down the passage to the Great Hall, finding the place brightly lighted, all the wall suspensors glowing at maximum.

To her right near the front entry, she saw two house guards holding Duncan Idaho between them. His head lolled forward, and there was an abrupt, panting silence to the scene.

One of the house guards spoke accusingly to Idaho : “You see what you did? You woke the Lady Jessica.”




The great draperies billowed behind the men, showing that the front door remained open. There was no sign of the Duke or Yueh. Mapes stood to one side staring coldly at Idaho . She wore a long brown robe with serpentine design at the hem. Her feet were pushed into unlaced desert boots.

“So I woke the Lady Jessica,” Idaho muttered. He lifted his face toward the ceiling, bellowed: “My sword was firs’ blooded on Grumman!”

Great Mother! He’s drunk! Jessica thought.

Idaho ‘s dark, round face was drawn into a frown. His hair, curling like the fur of a black goat, was plastered with dirt. A jagged rent in his tunic exposed an expanse of the dress shirt he had worn at the dinner party earlier.

Jessica crossed to him.

One of the guards nodded to her without releasing his hold on Idaho . “We didn’t know what to do with him, my Lady. He was creating a disturbance out front, refusing to come inside. We were afraid locals might come along and see him. That wouldn’t do at all. Give us a bad name here.”

“Where has he been?” Jessica asked.

“He escorted one of the young ladies home from the dinner, my Lady. Hawat’s orders.”

“Which young lady?”

“One of the escort wenches. You understand, my Lady?” He glanced at Mapes, lowered his voice. “They’re always calling on Idaho for special surveillance of the ladies.”

And Jessica thought: So they are. But why is he drunk?

She frowned, turned to Mapes. “Mapes, bring a stimulant. I’d suggest caffeine. Perhaps there’s some of the spice coffee left.”

Mapes shrugged, headed for the kitchen. Her unlaced desert boots slap-slapped against the stone floor.

Idaho swung his unsteady head around to peer at an angle toward Jessica. “Killed more’n three hunner’ men f’r the Duke,” he muttered. “Whadduh wanna know is why’m mere? Can’t live unner th’ groun’ here. Can’t live onna groun’ here. Wha’ kinna place is ‘iss, huh?”

A sound from the side hall entry caught Jessica’s attention. She turned, saw Yueh crossing to them, his medical kit swinging in his left hand. He was fully dressed, looked pale, exhausted. The diamond tattoo stood out sharply on his forehead.

“Th’ good docker!” Idaho shouted. “Whad’re you, Doc? Splint ‘n’ pill man?” He turned blearily toward Jessica. “Makin’ uh damn fool uh m’self, huh?”

Jessica frowned, remained silent, wondering: Why would Idaho get drunk? Was he drugged?

“Too much spice beer,” Idaho said, attempting to straighten.

Mapes returned with a steaming cup in her hands, stopped uncertainly behind Yueh. She looked at Jessica, who shook her head.

Yueh put his kit on the floor, nodded greeting to Jessica, said: “Spice beer, eh?”

“Bes’ damn stuff ever tas’ed,” Idaho said. He tried to pull himself to attention. “My sword was firs’ blooded on Grumman! Killed a Harkon . . . Harkon . . . killed ‘im f’r th’ Duke.”

Yueh turned, looked at the cup in Mapes’ hand.

“What is that?”

“Caffeine,” Jessica said.

Yueh took the cup, held it toward Idaho . “Drink this, lad.”

“Don’t wan’ any more f drink.”

“Drink it, I say!”

Idaho ‘s head wobbled toward Yueh, and he stumbled one step ahead, dragging the guards with him. “I’m almighdy fed up with pleasin’ th’ ‘Mperial Universe, Doc. Jus’ once, we’re gonna do th’ thing my way.”

“After you drink this,” Yueh said. “It’s just caffeine.”

” ‘Sprolly like all res’ uh this place! Damn’ sun ‘stoo brighd. Nothin’ has uh righd color. Ever’thing’s wrong or . . . ”

“Well, it’s nighttime now,” Yueh said. He spoke reasonably. “Drink this like a good lad. It’ll make you feel better.”

“Don’ wanna feel bedder!”

“We can’t argue with him all night,” Jessica said. And she thought: This calls for shock treatment .

“There’s no reason for you to stay, my Lady,” Yueh said. “I can take care of this.”




Jessica shook her head. She stepped forward, slapped Idaho sharply across the cheek.

He stumbled back with his guards, glaring at her.

“This is no way to act in your Duke’s home,” she said. She snatched the cup from Yueh’s hands, spilling part of it, thrust the cup toward Idaho . “Now drink this! That’s an order!”

Idaho jerked himself upright, scowling down at her. He spoke slowly, with careful and precise enunciation: “I do not take orders from a damn’ Harkonnen spy.”

Yueh stiffened, whirled to face Jessica.

Her face had gone pale, but she was nodding. It all became clear to her – the broken stems of meaning she had seen in words and actions around her these past few days could now be translated. She found herself in the grip of anger almost too great to contain. It took the most profound of her Bene Gesserit training to quiet her pulse and smooth her breathing. Even then she could feel the blaze flickering.

They were always calling on Idaho for surveillance of the ladies!

She shot a glance at Yueh. The doctor lowered his eyes.

“You knew this?” she demanded.

“I . . . heard rumors, my Lady. But I didn’t want to add to your burdens.”

“Hawat!” she snapped. “I want Thufir Hawat brought to me immediately!”

“But, my Lady . . . ”


It has to be Hawat , she thought. Suspicion such as this could come from no other source without being discarded immediately .

Idaho shook his head, mumbled. “Chuck th’ whole damn thing.”

Jessica looked down at the cup in her hand, abruptly dashed its contents across Idaho ‘s face. “Lock him in one of the guest rooms of the east wing,” she ordered. “Let him sleep it off.”

The two guards stared at her unhappily. One ventured: “Perhaps we should take him someplace else, m’Lady. We could . . . ”

“He’s supposed to be here!” Jessica snapped. “He has a job to do here.” Her voice dripped bitterness. “He’s so good at watching the ladies.”

The guard swallowed.

“Do you know where the Duke is?” she demanded.

“He’s at the command post, my Lady.”

“Is Hawat with him?”

“Hawat’s in the city, my Lady.”

“You will bring Hawat to me at once,” Jessica said. “I will be in my sitting room when he arrives.”

“But, my Lady . . . ”




“If necessary, I will call the Duke,” she said. “I hope it will not be necessary. I would not want to disturb him with this.”

“Yes, my Lady.”

Jessica thrust the empty cup into Mapes’ hands, met the questioning stare of the blue-within-blue eyes. “You may return to bed, Mapes.”

“You’re sure you’ll not need me?”

Jessica smiled grimly. “I’m sure.”

“Perhaps this could wait until tomorrow,” Yueh said. “I could give you a sedative and . . . ”

“You will return to your quarters and leave me to handle this my way,” she said. She patted his arm to take the sting out of her command. “This is the only way.”

Abruptly, head high, she turned and stalked off through the house to her rooms. Cold walls . . . passages . . . a familiar door . . . She jerked the door open, strode in, and slammed it behind her. Jessica stood there glaring at the shield-blanked windows of her sitting room. Hawat! Could he be the one the Harkonnens bought? We shall see.

Jessica crossed to the deep, old-fashioned armchair with an embroidered cover of schlag skin, moved the chair into position to command the door. She was suddenly very conscious of the crysknife in its sheath on her leg. She removed the sheath and strapped it to her arm, tested the drop of it. Once more, she glanced around the room, placing everything precisely in her mind against any emergency: the chaise near the corner, the straight chairs along the wall, the two low tables, her stand-mounted zither beside the door to her bedroom.

Pale rose light glowed from the suspensor lamps. She dimmed them, sat down in the armchair, patting the upholstery, appreciating the chair’s regal heaviness for this occasion.

Now, let him come , she thought. We shall see what we shall see . And she prepared herself in the Bene Gesserit fashion for the wait, accumulating patience, saving her strength.

Sooner than she had expected, a rap sounded at the door and Hawat entered at her command.

She watched him without moving from the chair, seeing the crackling sense of drug-induced energy in his movements, seeing the fatigue beneath. Hawat’s rheumy old eyes glittered. His leathery skin appeared faintly yellow in the room’s light, and there was a wide, wet stain on the sleeve of his knife arm.

She smelled blood there.




Jessica gestured to one of the straight-backed chairs, said: “Bring that chair and sit facing me.”

Hawat bowed, obeyed. That drunken fool of an Idaho ! he thought. He studied Jessica’s face, wondering how he could save this situation.

“It’s long past time to clear the air between us,” Jessica said.

“What troubles my Lady?” He sat down, placed hands on knees.

“Don’t play coy with me!” she snapped. “If Yueh didn’t tell you why I summoned you, then one of your spies in my household did. Shall we be at least that honest with each other?”

“As you wish, my Lady.”

“First, you will answer me one question,” she said. “Are you now a Harkonnen agent?”

Hawat surged half out of his chair, his face dark with fury, demanding: “You dare insult me so?”

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