Gurney Halleck, the Moor; or, Othello in Space

It came to Halleck then that the stormwinds of his new reality might shred these smugglers and all of their friends. It might destroy Stilgar with his fragile neutrality and take with him all of the tribes who remained loyal to Alia. They’d all become colonial peoples. Halleck had seen it happen before, knowing the bitter taste of it on his own homeworld.

Before the glowglobes and lasers, before the ornithopters and spice-crawlers, there’d been another kind of life: brown-skinned mothers with babies on their hips, lamps which burned spice-oil amidst a heavy fragrance of cinnamon, Naibs who persuaded their people while knowing none could be compelled. It had been a darkswarming of life in rocky burrows.

“Do you see no hope, Your Reverence?”

“Not for the father.” And the old woman had waved Jessica to silence, looked down at Paul. “Grave this on your memory, lad: A world is supported by four things . . . .” She held up four big-knuckled fingers. “. . . the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave. But all of these are as nothing . . . .” She closed her fingers into a fist. “. . . without a ruler who knows the art of ruling. Make that the science of your tradition!”

“Duncan, the moral,” Paul said, “and Gurney the valorous.”

“You name them well,” the Duke said.

And Paul thought: Gurney’s one of those the Reverend Mother meant, a supporter of worlds — “the valor of the brave.”

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.”

The world is supported by four things only: the learning of the wise, and the justice of the great, the prayers of the good, and the valour of the brave.

(To peruse Herbert’s collection, go to this link: and search "Frank Herbert
Collection” in the Siuslaw Public Library. Credit to Martin Nguyen for locating this excellent resource.)

When Imam Ali was asked about Faith in Religion, he replied that the structure of faith is supported by four pillars endurance, conviction, justice and jihad [struggle].

[Paul] felt a sense of wonder at the uncharacteristic seriousness in Halleck’s manner, the sobering intensity. He looked at the beet-colored inkvine scar on the man’s jaw, remembering the story of how it had been put there by Beast Rabban in a Harkonnen slave pit on Giedi Prime, and Paul felt a sudden shame that he had doubted Halleck even for an instant. It occurred to Paul, then, that the making of Halleck’s scar had been accompanied by pain — a pain as intense, perhaps, as that inflicted by a Reverend Mother. He thrust this thought aside; it chilled their world.

He saw it clearly, recalling the mannerisms of the city Fremen, the pattern of the suburbs, and the unmistakable ways of the rural sietch which rubbed off even on this smugglers’ hideaway. The rural districts were colonies of the urban centers. They’d learned how to wear a padded yoke, led into it by their greed if not their superstitions. Even here, especially here, the people had the attitude of a subject population, not the attitude of free men. They were defensive, concealing, evasive. Any manifestation of authority was subject to resentment — any authority: the Regency’s, Stilgar’s, their own Council . . .

I can’t trust them, Halleck thought. He could only use them and nurture their distrust of others. It was sad. Gone was the old give and take of free men. The old ways had been reduced to ritual words, their origins lost to memory.

Alia had done her work well, punishing opposition and rewarding assistance, shifting the Imperial forces in random fashion, concealing the major elements of her Imperial power. The spies! Gods below, the spies she must have!

Halleck could almost see the deadly rhythm of movement and counter-movement by which Alia hoped to keep her opposition off balance.

If the Fremen remain dormant, she’ll win, he thought

[H]e thought of Esmar Tuek, for whom this sietch had been named. Esmar, long dead of someone’s treachery, would have slit the throat of this Melides [the Fremen to whom Halleck is speaking] on sight.

Do you wish to choose now between me and the Fremen? We have a measure of security, our own sietch carved out of the rock, our own hidden basins. We five the lives of civilized men. The Fremen are a few ragged bands that we use as spice-hunters.

And do you wish to know the result? Even now they are being hunted down like animals — with lasguns, because they have no shields. They are being exterminated. Why? Because they killed Harkonnens…

Me or the Fremen. I will promise you sanctuary and a chance to draw the blood we both want. Be sure of that. The Fremen will offer you only the life of the hunted.

The Cast Out worked like men driven by a devil, and perhaps they were. Before every meal, they faced the Tanzerouft and prayed to Shai-Hulud personified. That was how they saw Leto and, through their eyes, Halleck saw a future where most of humankind shared that view. Halleck wasn’t sure he liked the prospect.

Leo Africanus, sometimes speculated to be the inspiration for Othello.



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