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Beautiful book quotes
title source author
Lucilla’s last moments
Dune: Chapterhouse
Frank Herbert

Lucilla cautioned herself not to assume too familiar a feeling about this acidgreen room and the recurring presence of Great Honored Matre. This was junction, stronghold of the ones who sought extermination of the Rene Gesserit. This was the enemy. Day seventeen.

The infallible mental clock that had been set ticking during the Spice Agony told her she had adapted to the planet's circadian rhythms. Awake at dawn. No telling when she would be fed. Honored Matre confined her to one meal a day. And always that Futar in its cage. A reminder: Both of you in cages. This is how we treat dangerous animals. We may let them out occasionally to stretch their legs and give us pleasure but back to the cage afterward. Minimal amounts of melange in the food. Not being parsimonious. Not with their wealth. A small show of "what could be yours if you would only be reasonable."


Great Honored Matre entered and sank into her chair.

Lucilla pitched her voice in the merry lilt: "Good morning, Dama."

"I did not give you permission to call me that." Low and with beginning flecks of orange in the eyes.

"Futar and I have been having a conversation."

"I know." More orange in the eyes. "And if you have spoiled him for me . . ."

"But Dama --"

"Don't call me that!" Out of her chair, eyes blazing orange.

"Do sit down," Lucilla said. "This is no way to conduct an interrogation."

Sarcasm, a dangerous weapon. "You said yesterday you wanted to continue our discussion of politics."

"How do you know what time it is?" Sinking back in her chair but eyes still flaming.

"All Bene Gesserit have this ability. We can feel the rhythms of any planet after a short time on it."

"A strange talent."

"Anyone can do it. A matter of being sensitized."

"Could I learn this?" Orange fading.

" I said anyone. You're still human, aren't you?" A question not yet fully answered.

"Why do you say you witches have no government?"

Wants to change the subject. Our abilities worry her. "That's not what I said. We have no conventional government."

"Not even a social code?"

"There's no such thing as a social code to meet all necessities. A crime in one society can be a moral requirement in another society."

"People always have government." Orange completely faded.

Why does this interest her so much?

"People have politics. I told you that yesterday. Politics: the art of appearing candid and completely open while concealing as much as possible."

"So you witches conceal."

"I did not say that. When we say 'politics,' that's a warning to our Sisters."

"I don't believe you. Humans always create some form of . . ."


"As good a word as any!" It angers her.

When Lucilla made no further response, Great Honored Matre leaned forward.

"You're concealing!"

"Isn't it my right to hide from you things that might help you defeat us?"

There's a juicy morsel of bait!

"I thought so!" Leaning back with a look of satisfaction.

"However, why not reveal it? You think the niches of authority are always there for the filling and you don't see what that says about my Sisterhood."

"Oh, please tell me." Heavy-handed with her sarcasm.

"You believe all of this conforms to instincts going back to tribal days and beyond. Chiefs and Elders. Mystery Mother and Council. And before that, the Strong Man (or Woman) who saw to it that everyone was fed, that all were guarded by fire at the cave's mouth."

"It makes sense."

Does it really?

"Oh, I agree. Evolution of the forms is quite clearly laid out."

"Evolution, witch! One thing piled on another."

Evolution. See how she snaps at key words?

"It's a force that can be brought under control by turning it upon itself."

Control! Look at the interest you've aroused. She loves that word.

"So you make laws just like anyone else!"

"Regulations, perhaps, but isn't everything temporary?"

Intensely interested. "Of course."

"But your society is administered by bureaucrats who know they cannot apply the slightest imagination to what they do."

"That's important?" Really puzzled. Look at her scowl.

"Only to you, Honored Matre."

"Great Honored Matre!" Isn't she touchy!

"Why don't you permit me to call you Dama?"

"We're not intimates."

"Is Futar an intimate?"

"Stop changing the subject!"

"Want tooth clean," the Futar said.

"You shut up!" Really blazing.

The Futar sank to its haunches but it was not cowed.

Great Honored Matre turned her orange gaze toward Lucilla. "What about bureaucrats?"

"They have no room to maneuver because that's the way their superiors grow fat.

If you don't see the difference between regulation and law, both have the force of law."

"I see no difference." She doesn't know what she reveals.

"Laws convey the myth of enforced change. A bright new future will come because of this law or that one. Laws enforce the future. Regulations are believed to enforce the past." "Believed?"

She doesn't like that word, either.

"In each instance, action is illusory. Like appointing a committee to study a problem. The more people on the committee, the more preconceptions applied to the problem."

Careful! She's really thinking about this, applying it to herself.

Lucilla pitched her voice in its most reasonable tones. "You live by a pastmagnified and try to understand some unrecognized future."

"We don't believe in prescience." Yes, she does! At last. This is why she keeps us alive.

"Dama, please. There's always something unbalanced about confining yourself to a tight circle of laws."

Be careful! She didn't bridle at your calling her Dama.

Great Honored Matre's chair creaked as she shifted in it. "But laws are


"Necessary? That's dangerous."

"How so?"

Softly. She feels threatened.

"Necessary rules and laws keep you from adapting. Inevitably, everything comes crashing down. It's like bankers thinking they buy the future. 'Power in my time! To hell with my descendants!' "

"What are descendants doing for me?"

Don't say it! Look at her. She's reacting out of the common insanity. Give her another small taste.

"Honored Matres originated as terrorists. Bureaucrats first and terror as your chosen weapon."

"When it's in your hands, use it. But we were rebels. Terrorists? That's too chaotic."

She likes that word "chaos." It defines everything on the outside. She doesn't even ask how you know her origins. She accepts our mysterious abilities.

"Isn't it odd, Dama . . . " No reaction; continue. ". . . how rebels all too soon fall into old patterns if they are victorious? It's not so much a pitfall in the path of all governments as it is a delusion waiting for anyone who gains power."

"Hah! And I thought you would tell me something new. We know that one: 'Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.' "

"Wrong, Dama. Something more subtle but far more pervasive: Power attracts the corruptible."

"You dare accuse me of being corrupt?"

Watch the eyes!

"I? Accuse you? The only one who can do that is yourself. I merely give you the Bene Gesserit opinion."

"And tell me nothing!"

"Yet we believe there's a morality above any law, which must stand watchdog on all attempts at unchanging regulation."

You used both words in one sentence and she didn't notice.

"Power always works, witch. That's the law."

"And governments that perpetuate themselves long enough under that belief always become packed with corruption."


She's not very good at sarcasm, especially when she's on the defensive.

"I've really tried to help you, Dama. Laws are dangerous to everyone -- innocent and guilty alike. No matter whether you believe yourself powerful or helpless. They have no human understanding in and of themselves." "There's no such thing as human understanding!"

Our question is answered. Not human. Talk to her unconscious side. She's wide open.

"Laws must always be interpreted. The law-bound want no latitude for compassion. No elbow room. 'The law is the law!"'

"It is!" Very defensive.

"That's a dangerous idea, especially for the innocent. People know this instinctively and resent such laws. Little things are done, often unconsciously, to hamstring 'the law' and those who deal in that nonsense."

"How dare you call it nonsense?" Half rising from her chair and sinking back.

"Oh, yes. And the law, personified by all whose livelihoods depend on it, becomes resentful hearing words such as mine."

"Rightly so, witch!" But she doesn't tell you to be silent.

" 'More law!' you say. 'We need more law!' So you make new instruments of noncompassion and, incidentally, new niches of employment for those who feed on the system."

"That's the way it's always been and always will be."

"Wrong again. It's a rondo. It rolls and rolls until it injures the wrong person or the wrong group. Then you get anarchy. Chaos." See her jump?

"Rebels, terrorists, increasing outbursts of raging violence. A jihad! And all because you created something nonhuman."

Hand on her chin. Watch it!

"How did we wander so far away from politics, witch? Was this your intention?"

"We haven't wandered a fraction of a millimeter!"

"I suppose you're going to tell me you witches practice a form of democracy."

"With an alertness you cannot imagine."

"Try me." She thinks you'll tell her a secret. Tell her one.

"Democracy is susceptible to being led astray by having scapegoats paraded in front of the electorate. Get the rich, the greedy, the criminals, the stupid leader and so on ad nauseam."

"You believe as we do." My! How desperately she wants us to be like her.

"You said you were bureaucrats who rebelled. You know the flaw. A top-heavy bureaucracy the electorate cannot touch always expands to the system's limits of energy. Steal it from the aged, from the retired, from anyone. Especially from those we once called middle class because that's where most of the energy originates."

"You think of yourselves as . . . as middle class?"

"We don't think of ourselves in any fixed way. But Other Memory tells us the flaws of bureaucracy. I presume you have some form of civil service for the 'lower orders.' "

"We take care of our own." That's a nasty echo.

"Then you know how that dilutes the vote. Chief symptom: People don't vote.

Instinct tells them it's useless."

"Democracy is a stupid idea anyway!"

"We agree. It's demagogue-prone. That's a disease to which electoral systems are vulnerable. Yet demagogues are easy to identify. They gesture a lot and speak with pulpit rhythms, using words that ring of religious fervor and godfearing sincerity."

She's chuckling!

"Sincerity with nothing behind it takes so much practice, Dama. The practice can always be detected."

"By Truthsayers?"

See how she leans forward? We have her again.

"By anyone who learns the signs: Repetition. Great attempts to keep your attention on words. You must pay no attention to words. Watch what the person does. That way you learn the motives."

"Then you don't have a democracy." Tell me more Bene Gesserit secrets.

"But we do."

"I thought you said . . ."

"We guard it well, watching for the things I've just described. The dangers are great but so are the rewards."

"Do you know what you've told me? That you're a pack of fools!"

"Nice lady!" the Futar said.

"Shut up or I'll send you back to the herd!"

"You not nice, Dama."

"See what you've done, witch? You've ruined him!"

"I suppose there are always others."

Ohhhhh. Look at that smile.

Lucilla matched the smile precisely, pacing her own breaths to those of the Great Honored Matre. See how alike we are? Of course I tried to injure you. Wouldn't you have done the same in my place?

"So you know how to make a democracy do whatever you want." A gloating expression.

"The technique is quite subtle but easy. You create a system where most people

are dissatisfied, vaguely or deeply."

That's how she sees it. Look at her nod in time to your words.

Lucilla held herself to the rhythm of Great Honored Matre's nodding head. "This builds up widespread feelings of vindictive anger. Then you supply targets for that anger as you need them."

"A diversionary tactic."

" I prefer to think of it as distraction. Don't give them time to question.

Bury your mistakes in more laws. You traffic in illusion. Bullring tactics."

"Oh, yes! That's good!" She's almost gleeful. Give her more bullring.

"Wave the pretty cape. They'll charge it and be confused when there's no matador behind the thing. That dulls the electorate just as it dulls the bull.

Fewer people use their vote intelligently next time."

"And that's why we do it!"

We do it! Does she listen to herself?

"Then you rail against the apathetic electorate. Make them feel guilty. Keep them dull. Feed them. Amuse them. Don't overdo it!"

"Oh, no! Never overdo it."

"Let them know hunger awaits them if they don't fall into line. Give them a look at the boredom imposed on boat rockers." Thank you, Mother Superior. It's an appropriate image.

"Don't you let the bull get an occasional matador?"

"Of course. Thump! Got that one! Then you wait for the laughter to subside."

" I knew you didn't allow a democracy!"

"Why won't you believe me?" You're tempting fate!

"Because you'd have to permit open voting, juries and judges and . . ."

"We call them Proctors. A sort of jury of the Whole."

Now you've confused her.

"And no laws . . . regulations, whatever you want to call them?"

"Didn't I say we defined them separately? Regulation-past. Law-future."

"You limit these . . . these Proctors, somehow!"

"They can arrive at any decision they desire, the way a jury should function. The law be damned!"

"That's a very disturbing idea." She's disturbed all right. Look at how dull her eyes are.

"The first rule of our democracy: no laws restricting juries. Such laws are stupid. It's astonishing how stupid humans can be when acting in small, selfserving groups."

"You're calling me stupid, aren't you!" Beware the orange.

"There appears to be a rule of nature that says it's almost impossible for selfserving groups to act enlightened."

"Enlightened! I knew it!"

That's a dangerous smile. Be careful.

"It means flowing with the forces of life, adjusting your actions that life may continue."

"With the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number, of course."

Quick! We've been too clever! Change the subject!

"That was an element the Tyrant left out of his Golden Path. He didn't consider happiness, only survival of humankind."

We said change the subject! Look at her! She's in a rage!

Great Honored Matre dropped her hand away from her chin. "And I was going to invite you into our order, make you one of us. Release you."

Get her off this! Quick!

"Don't speak," Great Honored Matre said. "Don't even open your mouth."

Now you've done it!

"You'd help Logno or one of the others and she'd be in my seat!!" She glanced at the crouching Futar. "Eat, darling?"

"Not eat nice lady."

"Then I'll throw her carcass to the herd!"

"Great Honored Matre --"

"I told you not to speak! You dared call me Dama."

She was out of her chair in a blur. Lucilla's cage door slammed open with a crash against the wall. Lucilla tried to dodge but the shigawire confined her.

She did not see the kick that crushed her temple.

As she died, Lucilla's awareness was filled with a scream of rage -- the horde of Lampadas venting emotions it had confined for many generations.

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