Dune by Frank Herbert Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Dune by Frank Herbert Read Free Book Online
Authors: Frank Herbert
Tags: Fiction, General, Science-Fiction
swung the baliset off his shoulder, began tuning it. “If y’ won’t
talk, y’ won’t,” he said.
    Paul stood, advanced across the room, calling out: “Well, Gurney, do we come
prepared for music when it’s fighting time?”
    “So it’s sass for our elders today,” Halleck said. He tried a chord on the
instrument, nodded.
    “Where’s Duncan Idaho?” Paul asked. “Isn’t he supposed to be teaching me
    “Duncan’s gone to lead the second wave onto Arrakis,” Halleck said. “All you
have left is poor Gurney who’s fresh out of fight and spoiling for music.” He
struck another chord, listened to it, smiled. “And it was decided in council
that you being such a poor fighter we’d best teach you the music trade so’s you
won’t waste your life entire.”
    “Maybe you’d better sing me a lay then,” Paul said. “I want to be sure how
not to do it.”
    “Ah-?h-?h, hah!” Gurney laughed, and he swung into “Galacian Girls.” his
multipick a blur over the strings as he sang:
    “Oh-?h-?h, the Galacian girls
Will do it for pearls,
And the Arrakeen for water!
But if you desire dames
Like consuming flames,
Try a Caladanin daughter!”
“Not bad for such a poor hand with the pick,” Paul said, “but if my mother
heard you singing a bawdy like that in the castle, she’d have your ears on the
outer wall for decoration.”
    Gurney pulled at his left ear. “Poor decoration, too, they having been
bruised so much listening at keyholes while a young lad I know practiced some
strange ditties on his baliset.”
    “So you’ve forgotten what it’s like to find sand in your bed,” Paul said. He
pulled a shield belt from the table, buckled it fast around his waist. “Then,
let’s fight!”
    Halleck’s eyes went wide in mock surprise. “So! It was your wicked hand did
that deed! Guard yourself today, young master — guard yourself.” He grabbed up
a rapier, laced the air with it. “I’m a hellfiend out for revenge!”
    Paul lifted the companion rapier, bent it in his hands, stood in the aguile,
one foot forward. He let his manner go solemn in a comic imitation of Dr. Yueh.
    “What a dolt my father sends me for weaponry,” Paul intoned. “This doltish
Gurney Halleck has forgotten the first lesson for a fighting man armed and
shielded.” Paul snapped the force button at his waist, felt the crinkled-?skin
tingling of the defensive field at his forehead and down his back, heard
external sounds take on characteristic shield-?filtered flatness. “In shield
fighting, one moves fast on defense, slow on attack,” Paul said. “Attack has the
sole purpose of tricking the opponent into a misstep, setting him up for the
attack sinister. The shield turns the fast blow, admits the slow kindjal!” Paul
snapped up the rapier, feinted fast and whipped it back for a slow thrust timed
to enter a shield’s mindless defenses.
    Halleck watched the action, turned at the last minute to let the blunted
blade pass his chest. “Speed, excellent,” he said. “But you were wide open for
an underhanded counter with a slip-?tip.”
    Paul stepped back, chagrined.
    “I should whap your backside for such carelessness,” Halleck said. He lifted
a naked kindjal from the table and held it up. “This in the hand of an enemy can
let out your life’s blood! You’re an apt pupil, none better, but I’ve warned you
that not even in play do you let a man inside your guard with death in his
    “I guess I’m not in the mood for it today,” Paul said.
    “Mood?” Halleck’s voice betrayed his outrage even through the shield’s
filtering. “What has mood to do with it? You fight when the necessity arises —
no matter the mood! Mood’s a thing for cattle or making love or playing the
baliset. It’s not for fighting.”
    “I’m sorry, Gurney.”
    “You’re not sorry enough!”
    Halleck activated his own shield, crouched with kindjal outthrust in left
hand, the

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