IN THE dining hall of the Arrakeen great house, suspensor lamps had been lighted against the early dark.
They cast their yellow glows upward onto the black bull’s head with its bloody horns, and onto the darkly glistening oil painting of the Old Duke.
Beneath these talismans, white linen shone around the burnished reflections of the Atreides silver, which had been placed in precise arrangements along the great table—little archipelagos of service waiting beside crystal glasses, each setting squared off before a heavy wooden chair.
The classic central chandelier remained unlighted, and its chain twisted upward into shadows where the mechanism of the poison-snooper had been concealed.
Pausing in the doorway to inspect the arrangements, the Duke thought about the poison-snooper and what it signified in his society.
All of a pattern, he thought.
You can plumb us by our language-the precise and delicate delineations for ways to administer treacherous death.
Will someone try chaumurky tonight— poison in the drink? Or will it be chaumas— poison in the food?
He shook his head.
Beside each plate on the long table stood a flagon of water.
There was enough water along the table, the Duke estimated, to keep a poor Arrakeen family for more than a year.
Flanking the doorway in which he stood were broad laving basins of ornate yellow and green tile.
Each basin had its rack of towels.
It was the custom, the housekeeper had explained, for guests as they entered to dip their hands ceremoniously into a basin, slop several cups of water onto the floor, dry their hands on a towel and fling the towel into the growing puddle at the door.
After the dinner, beggars gathered outside to get the water squeezings from the towels.
How typical of a Harkonnen fief, the Duke thought.
Every degradation of the spirit that can be conceived.
He took a deep breath, feeling rage tighten his stomach.
“The custom stops here!” he muttered.
He saw a serving woman— one of the old and gnarled ones the housekeeper had recommended— hovering at the doorway from the kitchen across from him.
The Duke signaled with upraised hand.
She moved out of the shadows, scurried around the table toward him, and he noted the leathery face, the blue-within-blue eyes.
“My Lord wishes?” She kept her head bowed, eyes shielded.
“Have these basins and towels removed.”
“But… Noble Born….” She looked up, mouth gaping.
“I know the custom!” he barked.
“Take these basins to the front door.
While we’re eating and until we’ve finished, each beggar who calls may have a full cup of water.
Her leathery face displayed a twisting of emotions: dismay, anger….
With sudden insight, Leto realized that she must have planned to sell the water squeezings from the foot-trampled towels, wringing a few coppers from the wretches who came to the door.
Perhaps that also was a custom.
His face clouded, and he growled: “I’m posting a guard to see that my orders are carried out to the letter.”
He whirled, strode back down the passage to the Great Hall.
Memories rolled in his mind like the toothless mutterings of old women.
He remembered open water and waves—days of grass instead of sand—dazed summers that had whipped past him like windstorm leaves.
I’m getting old, he thought.
I’ve felt the cold hand of my mortality.
And in what? An old woman’s greed.
In the Great Hall, the Lady Jessica was the center of a mixed group standing in front of the fireplace.
An open blaze crackled there, casting flickers of orange light onto jewels and laces and costly fabrics.
He recognized in the group a stillsuit manufacturer down from Carthag, an electronics equipment importer, a watershipper whose summer mansion was near his polar-cap factory, a representative of the Guild Bank (lean and remote, that one), a dealer inreplacement parts for spice mining equipment, a thin and hard-faced woman whose escort service for off-planet visitors reputedly operated as cover for various smuggling, spying, and blackmail operations.
Most of the women in the hall seemed cast from a specific type—decorative, precisely turned out, an odd mingling of untouchable sensuousness.
Even without her position as hostess, Jessica would have dominated the group, he thought.
She wore no jewelry and had chosen warm colors— a long dress almost the shade of the open blaze, and an earth-brown band around her bronzed hair.
He realized she had done this to taunt him subtly, a reproof against his recent pose of coldness.
She was well aware that he liked her best in these shades— that he saw her as a rustling of warm colors.
Nearby, more an outflanker than a member of the group, stood Duncan Idaho in glittering dress uniform, flat face unreadable, the curling black hair neatly combed.
He had been summoned back from the Fremen and had his orders from Hawat— “Under pretext of guarding her, you will keep the Lady Jessica under constant surveillance.
The Duke glanced around the room.
There was Paul in the corner surrounded by a fawning group of the younger Arrakeen richece, and, aloof among them, three officers of the House Troop.
The Duke took particular note of the young women.
What a catch a ducal heir would make.
But Paul was treating all equally with an air of reserved nobility.
He’ll wear the title well, the Duke thought, and realized with a sudden chill that this was another death thought.
Paul saw his father in the doorway, avoided his eyes.
He looked around at the clusterings of guests, the jeweled hands clutching drinks (and the unobtrusive inspections with tiny remote-cast snoopers).
Seeing all the chattering faces, Paul was suddenly repelled by them.
They were cheap masks locked on festering thoughts— voices gabbling to drown out the loud silence in every breast.
I’m in a sour mood, he thought, and wondered what Gurney would say to that.
He knew his mood’s source.
He hadn’t wanted to attend this function, but his father had been firm.
“You have a place— a position to uphold.
You’re old enough to do this.
You’re almost a man.”
Paul saw his father emerge from the doorway, inspect the room, then cross to the group around the Lady Jessica.
As Leto approached Jessica’s group, the water-shipper was asking: “Is it true the Duke will put in weather control?”
From behind the man, the Duke said: “We haven’t gone that far in our thinking, sir.”
The man turned, exposing a bland round face, darkly tanned.
“Ah-h, the Duke,” he said.
“We missed you.” Leto glanced at Jessica.
“A thing needed doing.” He returned his attention to the water-shipper, explained what he had ordered for the laving basins, adding:
“As far as I’m concerned, the old custom ends now.”
“Is this a ducal order, m’Lord?” the man asked.
“I leave that to your own… ah … conscience,” the Duke said.
He turned, noting Kynes come up to the group.
One of the women said: “I think it’s a very generous gesture— giving water to the—” Someone shushed her.
The Duke looked at Kynes, noting that the planetologist wore an old-style dark brown uniform with epaulets of the Imperial Civil Servant and a tiny gold teardrop of rank at his collar.
The water-shipper asked in an angry voice: “Does the Duke imply criticism of our custom?”
“This custom has been changed,” Leto said.
He nodded to Kynes, marked the frown on Jessica’s face, thought: A frown does not become her, but it’ll increase rumors of friction between us.
“With the Duke’s permission,” the water-shipper said, “I’d like to inquire further about customs.”
Leto heard the sudden oily tone in the man’s voice, noted the watchful silence in this group, the way heads were beginning to turn toward them around the room.
“Isn’t it almost time for dinner?” Jessica asked.
“But our guest has some questions,” Leto said.
And he looked at the water-shipper, seeing a round-faced man with large eyes and thick lips, recalling Hawat’s memorandum:
“… and this watershipper is a man to watch— Lingar Bewt, remember the name.
The Harkonnens used him but never fully controlled him.”
“Water customs are so interesting,” Bewt said, and there was a smile on his face.
“I’m curious what you intend about the conservatory attached to this house.
Do you intend to continue flaunting it in the people’s faces… m’Lord?”
Leto held anger in check, staring at the man.
Thoughts raced through his mind.
It had taken bravery to challenge him in his own ducal castle, especially since they now had Bewt’s signature over a contract of allegiance.
The action had taken, also, a knowledge of personal power.
Water was, indeed, power here.
If water facilities were mined, for instance, ready to be destroyed at a signal….
The man looked capable of such a thing.
Destruction of water facilities might well destroy Arrakis.
That could well have been the club this Bewt held over the Harkonnens.
“My Lord, the Duke, and I have other plans for our conservatory,” Jessica said.
She smiled at Leto.
“We intend to keep it, certainly, but only to hold it in trust for the people of Arrakis.
It is our dream that someday the climate of Arrakis may be changed sufficiently to grow such plants anywhere in the open.”
Bless her! Leto thought.
Let our water-shipper chew on that.
“Your interest in water and weather control is obvious,” the Duke said.
“I’d advise you to diversify your holdings.
One day, water will not be a precious commodity on Arrakis.”
And he thought: Hawat must redouble his efforts at infiltrating this Bewt’s organization.
And we must start on stand-by water facilities at once.
No man is going to hold a club over my head!
Bewt nodded, the smile still on his face.
“A commendable dream, my Lord.”
He withdrew a pace.
Leto’s attention was caught by the expression on Kynes’ face.
The man was staring at Jessica.
He appeared transfigured—like a man in love … or caught in a religious trance.
Kynes’ thoughts were overwhelmed at last by the words of prophecy: “And they shall share your most precious dream.”
He spoke directly to Jessica: “Do you bring the shortening of the way?”
“Ah, Dr. Kynes,” the water-shipper said.
“You’ve come in from tramping around with your mobs of Fremen.
How gracious of you.”
Kynes passed an unreadable glance across Bewt, said:
“It is said in the desert that possession of water in great amount can inflict a man with fatal carelessness.”
“They have many strange sayings in the desert,” Bewt said, but his voice betrayed uneasiness.
Jessica crossed to Leto, slipped her hand under his arm to gain a moment in which to calm herself.
Kynes had said: “…the shortening of the way.” In the old tongue, the phrase translated as “Kwisatz Haderach.”
The planetologist’s odd question seemed to have gone unnoticed by the others, and now Kynes was bending over one of the consort women, listening to a low-voiced coquetry.
Kwisatz Haderach, Jessica thought.
Did our Missionaria Protectiva plant that legend here, too?
The thought fanned her secret hope for Paul.
He could be the Kwisatz Haderach.
He could be.
The Guild Bank representative had fallen into conversation with the water-shipper, and Bewt’s voice lifted above the renewed hum of conversations:
“Many people have sought to change Arrakis.”
The Duke saw how the words seemed to pierce Kynes, jerking the planetologist upright and away from the flirting woman.
Into the sudden silence, a house trooper in uniform of a footman cleared his throat behind Leto, said: “Dinner is served, my Lord.”
The Duke directed a questioning glance down at Jessica.
“The custom here is for host and hostess to follow their guests to table,” she said, and smiled:
“Shall we change that one, too, my Lord?”
He spoke coldly:
“That seems a goodly custom.
We shall let it stand for now.”
The illusion that I suspect her of treachery must be maintained, he thought.
He glanced at the guests filing past them.
Who among you believes this lie?
Jessica, sensing his remoteness, wondered at it as she had done frequently the past week.
He acts like a man struggling with himself, she thought.
Is it because I moved so swiftly setting up this dinner party? Yet, he knows how important it is that we begin to mix our officers and men with the locals on a social plane.
We are father and mother surrogate to them all.
Nothing impresses that fact more firmly than this sort of social sharing.
Leto, watching the guests file past, recalled what Thufir Hawat had said when informed of the affair:
“Sire! I forbid it!”
A grim smile touched the Duke’s mouth.
What a scene that had been.
And when the Duke had remained adamant about attending the dinner, Hawat had shaken his head.
“I have bad feelings about this, my Lord,” he’d said.
“Things move too swiftly on Arrakis.
That’s not like the Harkonnens.
Not like them at all.”
Paul passed his father escorting a young woman half a head taller than himself.
He shot a sour glance at his father, nodded at something the young woman said.
“Her father manufactures stillsuits,” Jessica said.
“I’m told that only a fool would be caught in the deep desert wearing one of the man’s suits.”
“Who’s the man with the scarred face ahead of Paul?” the Duke asked.
“I don’t place him.”
“A late addition to the list,” she whispered.
“Gurney arranged the invitation. Smuggler.”
“At my request.
It was cleared with Hawat, althought I thought Hawat was a little stiff about it.
The smuggler’s called Tuek, Esmar Tuek.
He’s a power among his kind.
They all know him here.
He’s dined at many of the houses.”
“Why is he here?”
“Everyone here will ask that question,” she said.
“Tuek will sow doubt and suspicion just by his presence.
He’ll also serve notice that you’re prepared to back up your orders against graft— by enforcement from the smugglers’ end as well.
This was the point Hawat appeared to like.”
“I’m not sure I like it.”
He nodded to a passing couple, saw only a few of their guests remained to precede them.
“Why didn’t you invite some Fremen?”
“There’s Kynes,” she said.
“Yes, there’s Kynes,” he said.
“Have you arranged any other little surprises for me?”
He led her into step behind the procession.
“All else is most conventional,” she said.
And she thought: My darling, can’t you see that this smuggler controls fast ships, that he can be bribed? We must have a way out, a door of escape from Arrakis if all else fails us here.
As they emerged into the dining hall, she disengaged her arm, allowed Leto to seat her.
He strode to his end of the table.
A footman held his chair for him.
The others settled with a swishing of fabrics, a scraping of chairs, but the Duke remained standing.
He gave a hand signal, and the house troopers in footman uniform around the table stepped back, standing at attention.
Uneasy silence settled over the room.
Jessica, looking down the length of the table, saw a faint trembling at the corners of Leto’s mouth, noted the dark flush of anger on his cheeks.
What has angered him? she asked herself.
Surely not my invitation to the smuggler.
“Some question my changing of the laving basin custom,” Leto said.
“This is my way of telling you that many things will change.”
Embarrassed silence settled over the table.
They think him drunk, Jessica thought.
Leto lifted his water flagon, held it aloft where the suspensor lights shot beams of reflection off it.
“As a Chevalier of the Imperium, then,” he said, “I give you a toast.”
The others grasped their flagons, all eyes focused on the Duke.
In the sudden stillness, a suspensor light drifted slightly in an errant breeze from the serving kitchen hallway.
Shadows played across the Duke’s hawk features.
“Here I am and here I remain!” he barked.
There was an abortive movement of flagons toward mouths— stopped as the Duke remained with arm upraised.
“My toast is one of those maxims so dear to our hearts: ‘Business makes progress! Fortune passes everywhere!’”
He sipped his water.
The others joined him.
Questioning glances passed among them.
“Gurney!” the Duke called.
From an alcove at Leto’s end of the room came Halleck’s voice.
“Here, my Lord.”
“Give us a tune, Gurney.”
A minor chord from the baliset floated out of the alcove.
Servants began putting plates of food on the table at the Duke’s gesture releasing them— roast desert hare in sauce cepeda, aplomage sirian, chukka under glass, coffee with melange (a rich cinnamon odor from the spice wafted across the table), a true pot-a-oie served with sparkling Caladan wine.
Still, the Duke remained standing.
As the guests waited, their attention torn between the dishes placed before them and the standing Duke, Leto said: “In olden times, it was the duty of the host to entertain his guests with his own talents.” His knuckles turned white, so fiercely did he grip his water flagon.
“I cannot sing, but I give you the words of Gurney’s song.
Consider it another toast—a toast to all who’ve died bringing us
to this station.”
An uncomfortable stirring sounded around the table.
Jessica lowered her gaze, glanced at the people seated nearest her—there was
the round-faced water-shipper and his woman, the pale and austere Guild Bank
representative (he seemed a whistlefaced scarecrow with his eyes fixed on Leto),
the rugged and scar-faced Tuek, his blue-within-blue eyes downcast.
“Review, friends—troops long past review,” the Duke intoned.
“All to fate a weight of pains and dollars.
Their spirits wear our silver collars.
Review, friends— troops long past review: Each a dot of time without pretense or guile.
With them passes the lure of fortune.
Review, friends—troops long past review.
When our time ends on its rictus smile, we’ll pass the lure of fortune.”
The Duke allowed his voice to trail off on the last line, took a deep drink from his water flagon, slammed it back onto the table.
Water slopped over the brim onto the linen.
The others drank in embarrassed silence.
Again, the Duke lifted his water flagon, and this time emptied its remaining half onto the floor, knowing that the others around the table must do the same.
Jessica was first to follow his example.
There was a frozen moment before the others began emptying their flagons.
Jessica saw how Paul, seated near his father, was studying the reactions around him.
She found herself also fascinated by what her guests’ actions revealed— especially among the women.
This was clean, potable water, not something already cast away in a sopping towel.
Reluctance to just discard it exposed itself in trembling hands, delayed reactions, nervous laughter…
and violent obedience to the necessity.
One woman dropped her flagon, looked the other way as her male companion recovered it.Kynes, though, caught her attention most sharply.
The planetologist hesitated, then emptied his flagon into a container beneath his jacket.
He smiled at Jessica as he caught her watching him, raised the empty flagon to her in a silent toast.
He appeared completely unembarrassed by his action.
Halleck’s music still wafted over the room, but it had come out of its minor key, lilting and lively now as though he were trying to lift the mood.
“Let the dinner commence,” the Duke said, and sank into his chair.
He’s angry and uncertain, Jessica thought.
The loss of that factory crawler hit him more deeply than it should have.
It must be something more than that loss.
He acts like a desperate man.
She lifted her fork, hoping in the motion to hide her own sudden bitterness.
Why not? He is desperate.
Slowly at first, then with increasing animation, the dinner got under way.
The stillsuit manufacturer complimented Jessica on her chef and wine.
“We brought both from Caladan,” she said.
“Superb!” he said, tasting the chukka.
“Simply superb! And not a hint of melange in it.
One gets so tired of the spice in everything.”
The Guild Bank representative looked across at Kynes.
“I understand, Doctor Kynes, that another factory crawler has been lost to a worm.”
“News travels fast,” the Duke said.
“Then it’s true?” the banker asked, shifting his attention to Leto.
“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 withthe 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 manufacterer’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 ecologist’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
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.
“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 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… may be,” 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.
“Maybe,” he muttered.
Kynes spoke quickly: “Perhaps we should discuss this another time, my
Lord. There are so many—”
The planetologist broke off as a 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.
“Drowned?” It was the stillsuit manufacturer’s daughter.
Paul hesitated, then: “Yes.
Immersed in water until dead.
“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.
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.
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 signalled 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
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.