Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

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Because of the one-pointed Time awareness in which the conventional mind remains immersed, humans tend to think of everything in a sequential, word-oriented framework. This mental trap produces very short-term concepts of effectiveness and consequences, a condition of constant, unplanned response to crises. -Liet-Kynes, The Arrakis Workbook

Words and movements simultaneous, Jessica reminded herself and she bent her thoughts to those necessary mental preparations for the coming encounter. The hour was shortly after breakfast, the golden sun of Salusa Secundus just beginning to touch the far wall of the enclosed garden which she could see from her window. She had dressed herself carefully: the black hooded cloak of a Reverend Mother, but it carried the Atreides crest in gold worked into an embroidered ring around the hem and again at the cuff of each sleeve. Jessica arranged the drape of her garment carefully as she turned her back on the window, holding her left arm across her waist to present the Hawk motif of the crest. Farad’n noted the Atreides symbols, commenting on them as he entered, but he betrayed no anger or surprise. She detected subtle humor in his voice and wondered at it. She saw that he had clad himself in the grey leotard which she had suggested. He sat on the low green divan to which she directed him, relaxing with his right arm along the back. Why do I trust her? he wondered. This is a Bene Gesserit witch! Jessica, reading the thought in the contrast between his relaxed body and the expression on his face, smiled and said: “You trust me because you know our bargain is a good one, and you want what I can teach you.” She saw the pinch of a scowl touch his brow, waved her left hand to calm him. “No, I don’t read minds. I read the face, the body, the mannerisms, tone of voice, set of arms. Anyone can do this once they learn the Bene Gesserit Way.” “And you will teach me?” “I’m sure you’ve studied the reports about us,” she said. “Is there anywhere a report that we fail to deliver on a direct promise?” “No reports, but . . .” “We survive in part by the complete confidence which people can have in our truthfulness. That has not changed.” “I find this reasonable,” he said. “I’m anxious to begin.” “I’m surprised you’ve never asked the Bene Gesserit for a teacher,” she said. “They would’ve leaped at the opportunity to put you in their debt.” “My mother would never listen to me when I urged her to do this,” he said. “But now . . .” He shrugged, an eloquent comment on Wensicia’s banishment. “Shall we start?” “It would’ve been better to begin this when you were much younger,” Jessica said. “It’ll be harder for you now, and it’ll take much longer. You’ll have to begin by learning patience, extreme patience. I pray you’ll not find it too high a price.” “Not for the reward you offer.” She heard the sincerity, the pressure of expectations, and the touch of awe in his voice. These formed a place to begin. She said: “The art of patience, then — starting with some elementary prana-bindu exercises for the legs and arms, for your breathing. We’ll leave the hands and fingers for later. Are you ready?” She seated herself on a stool facing him. Farad’n nodded, holding an expectant expression on his face to conceal the sudden onset of fear. Tyekanik had warned him that there must be a trick in the Lady Jessica’s offer, something brewed by the Sisterhood. “You cannot believe that she has abandoned them again or that they have abandoned her.” Farad’n had stopped the argument with an angry outburst for which he’d been immediately sorry. His emotional reaction had made him agree more quickly with Tyekanik’s precautions. Farad’n glanced at the corners of the room, the subtle gleam of jems in the coving. All that glittered was not jems: everything in this room would be recorded and good minds would review every nuance, every word, every movement. Jessica smiled, noting the direction of his gaze, but not revealing that she knew where his attention had wandered. She said: “To learn patience in the Bene Gesserit Way, you must begin by recognizing the essential, raw instability of our universe. We call nature — meaning this totality in all of its manifestations — the Ultimate Non-Absolute. To free your vision and permit you to recognize this conditional nature’s changing ways, you will hold your two hands at arm’s length in front of you. Stare at your extended hands, first the palms and then the backs. Examine the fingers, front and back. Do it.” Farad’n complied, but he felt foolish. These were his own hands. He knew them. “Imagine your hands aging,” Jessica said. “They must grow very old in your eyes. Very, very old. Notice how dry the skin . . .” “My hands don’t change,” he said. He already could feel the muscles of his upper arms trembling. “Continue to stare at your hands. Make them old, as old as you can imagine. It may take time. But when you see them age, reverse the process. Make your hands young again — as young as you can make them. Strive to take them from infancy to great age at will, back and forth, back and forth.” “They don’t change!” he protested. His shoulders ached. “If you demand it of your senses, your hands will change,” she said. “Concentrate upon visualizing the flow of time which you desire: infancy to age, age to infancy. It may take you hours, days, months. But it can be achieved. Reversing that change-flow will teach you to see every system as something spinning in relative stability . . . only relative.” “I thought I was learning patience.” She heard anger in his voice, an edge of frustration. “And relative stability,” she said. “This is the perspective which you create with your own belief, and beliefs can be manipulated by imagination. You’ve learned only a limited way of looking at the universe. Now you must make the universe your own creation. This will permit you to harness any relative stability to your own uses, to whatever uses you are capable of imagining.” “How long did you say it takes?” “Patience,” she reminded him. A spontaneous grin touched his lips. His eyes wavered toward her. “Look at your hands!” she snapped. The grin vanished. His gaze jerked back to a fixated concentration upon his extended hands. “What do I do when my arms get tired?” he asked. “Stop talking and concentrate,” she said. “If you become too tired, stop. Return to it after a few minutes of relaxation and exercise. You must persist in this until you succeed. At your present stage, this is more important than you could possibly realize. Learn this lesson or the others will not come.” Farad’n inhaled a deep breath, chewed his lips, stared at his hands. He turned them slowly: front, back, front, back . . . His shoulders trembled with fatigue. Front, back . . . Nothing changed. Jessica arose, crossed to the only door. He spoke without removing his attention from his hands. “Where are you going?” “You’ll work better on this if you’re alone. I’ll return in about an hour. Patience.” “I know!” She studied him a moment. How intent he looked. He reminded her with a heart-tugging abruptness of her own lost son. She permitted herself a sigh, said: “When I return I’ll give you the exercise lessons to relieve your muscles. Give it time. You’ll be astonished at what you can make your body and your senses do.” She let herself out. The omnipresent guards took up station three paces behind her as she strode down the hall. Their awe and fear were obvious. They were Sardaukar, thrice-warned of her prowess, raised on the stories of their defeat by the Fremen of Arrakis. This witch was a Fremen Reverend Mother, a Bene Gesserit and an Atreides. Jessica, glancing back, saw their stern faces as a milepost in her design. She turned away as she came to the stairs, went down them and through a short passage into the garden below her windows. Now if only Duncan and Gurney can do their parts, she thought as she felt the gravel of a pathway beneath her feet, saw the golden light filtered by greenery.

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Categories: Herbert, Frank