King Ubu – Act 2

SCENE I

The King’s palace.

Wenceslas, Queen Rosemonde, Boleslas, Ladislas and Bougrelas.

THE KING. Mister Bougrelas, you were very impertinent this morning to Master Ubu, knight of my orders and Count of Sandomir. Therefore I forbid you to appear at my parade.

THE QUEEN. But Wenceslas, it wouldn’t be too much for you to have your whole family to defend you.

THE KING. Madam, I never go back on my word. You tire me with these nonsenses.

BOUGRELAS. I submit, my father.

THE QUEEN. Really, my lord, are you determined to go to this parade?

THE KING. Why not, my lady?

THE QUEEN. Have I not dreamed of him striking you with his many weapons and throwing you into the Vistule, while an eagle like that on the arms of Poland places the crown upon his head?

THE KING. Whose head?

THE QUEEN. Papa Ubu’s!

THE KING. What madness! Mister Ubu is a very fine gentleman who would let himself be torn apart by wild horses for my service.

THE QUEEN AND BOUGRELAS. What idiocy!

THE KING. Keep your opinions to yourself, young sagouin. And you, my lady, to prove how little I fear Mister Ubu, I’m going to the review as I am, without buckler and without sword.

THE QUEEN. Fatal imprudence! I won’t see you living again.

THE KING. Come, Ladislas. Come, Boleslas.

They leave. The Queen and Bougrelas go to the window.

THE QUEEN AND BOUGRELAS. May God and great Saint Nicholas watch over you!

THE QUEEN. Bougrelas, come into the chapel with me pray for your father and your brothers.

SCENE II

The parade ground.

The Polish Army, The King, Boleslas, Ladislas, Papa Ubu, Captain Bordure and his men, Lap, Battery, Cotice.

THE KING. Noble Papa Ubu, come closer to me to inspect the troops.

PAPA UBU (to his men). Attention, you lot. (To the King). Coming, Sire, coming.

Ubu’s men surround the King.

THE KING. Ah! there is the regiment of Danzig horse-guards. My word, they are very beautiful!

PAPA UBU. You think so? They appear to me to be miserable. Look at this one. (To the Soldier). How long has it been since you washed yourself, you worthless clown?

THE KING. But this soldier is very clean. What is the matter with you, Papa Ubu?

PAPA UBU. This!

He stamps on the King’s foot.

THE KING. Wretch!

PAPA UBU. PSHITE! To me, my men!

BORDURE. Hurrah! Forward!

All strike the King. A Paladin explodes.

THE KING. Oh! help! Holy Virgin, I’ve died!

BOLESAS, TO LADISLAS. That does it! Let’s draw!

PAPA UBU Ah! I have the crown! Now for the others.

BORDURE. Death to the traitors!!

The king’s sons run away. All pursue them.

SCENE III

The Queen and Bougrelas

THE QUEEN. At last I begin to feel reassured.

BOUGRELAS. You don’t have any cause to fear.

An awful clamour is heard outside.

THE QUEEN. What is that dreadful noise?

BOUGRELAS. Ah! What do I see? My two brothers pursued by Papa Ubu and his men.

THE QUEEN. Oh my God! Holy Virgin. They’re losing ground.

BOUGRELAS. The whole army is following Papa Ubu. The king is not there. Horror! Help!

THE QUEEN. Boleslas is dead! He received a bullet.

BOUGRELAS. Hey! (Ladislas turns around.) Defend yourself! Hurrah for Ladislas!

THE QUEEN. Oh! he’s surrounded.

BOUGRELAS. This is the end of him. Bordure just cut him in two like a sausage.

THE QUEEN. Alas! These madmen penetrate the palace. They’re coming up the stairs.

The clamour increases.

THE QUEEN AND BOUGRELAS (on their knees). My God, defend us.

BOUGRELAS. Oh! That Papa Ubu! The wretched rogue! If I had him here…

SCENE IV

The same. The door is demolished. Papa Ubu and his men burst in.

PAPA UBU. Hey! Bougrelas. What now?

BOUGRELAS. By the living God! I will defend my mother to the death! The first one to take a step dies!

PAPA UBU. Oh, Bordure, I’m scared! Let me out of here.

A SOLDIER (advances). Surrender, Bougrelas!

BOUGRELAS. Hold, hooligan! Here’s your comeuppance!

He splits open the Soldier’s skull.

THE QUEEN. Hold good, Bougrelas! Hold good!

MANY (advancing). Bougrelas, we promise to spare your life.

BOUGRELAS. Scoundrels, scrotums, mercenary sagouins!

He makes a windmill with his sword, and massacres them.

PAPA UBU. Oh! I’ll finish this thing just the same.

BOUGRELAS. Mother, save yourself by the secret staircase.

THE QUEEN. And you, my son, and you?

BOUGRELAS. I’ll follow.

PAPA UBU. Try and catch the queen! Ah, she’s gone! As for you, you wretch…

He advances toward Bougrelas.

BOUGRELAS. Ah, by the living God! Here is my vengeance!

He rips open Papa Ubu’s guts with a terrible blow of his sword.

BOUGRELAS. Mother, I follow you!

He disappears by the secret staircase.

SCENE V

A cavern in the mountains.

Young Bougrelas enters, followed by Rosemonde.

BOUGRELAS. Here we will be safe.

THE QUEEN. Yes, I hope so. Bougrelas, support me!

She falls in the snow.

BOUGRELAS. Ha, what, my mother, ails you?

THE QUEEN. I’m very sick, believe me, Bougrelas. I have only two hours to live.

BOUGRELAS. What! Has the cold weather gotten to you?

THE QUEEN. How can I stand so many blows? The king slaughtered, our family destroyed, and you – representing the noblest race that ever carried the sword – forced to hide in the mountains like a smuggler.

BOUGRELAS. And by who, great God, by who? Vulgar Papa Ubu, an adventurer from who knows where?, a vile scoundrel, a shameful vagabond! And when I think that my father decorated him and made him a count, and the following day that villain unashamedly assaulted him.

THE QUEEN. Oh, Bougrelas! When I remember how happy we were before the arrival of this Papa Ubu! But now, alas, all is changed.

BOUGRELAS. What do you want? Let’s wait with hope and never renounce our claim.

THE QUEEN. I wish it for you, my child, but as for me, I won’t see the happy day.

BOUGRELAS. Eh? what’s wrong? She becomes pale, she falls. Help! But I’m in a desert! Oh, my God! Her heart doesn’t beat any more. She’s dead! Is this possible? Another victim for Papa Ubu!

He buries his face in his hands, and weeps.

BOUGRELAS. Oh, my God! how sad it is to find oneself alone at the age of fourteen, with a terrible vengeance to pursue!

He falls prey to the most violent despair. Meanwhile the Souls of Wenceslas, Boleslas, Ladislas and Rosemonde enter the cave. Their Ancestors come with them and fill the cave. The eldest approaches Bougrelas and gently wakes him.

BOUGRELAS. Hey? What do I see? All my family, my ancestors! By what miracle?

THE GHOST. Learn, Bougrelas, that I was during my life Matthias Lord of Koenigsberg, the first king and founder of our house. I place upon you the responsibility of exacting our vengeance. (He gives him a big sword.) Let this sword not rest until it has caused the death of the usurper.

The Ghosts disappear, and Bougrelas remains alone in an attitude of ecstasy.

SCENE VI

The King’s palace.

Papa Ubu, Mama Ubu, Captain Bordure.

PAPA UBU. No! I won’t do it! You want to ruin me with this nonsense?

BORDURE. But in short, Papa Ubu, don’t you see the people await the happy event.

MAMA UBU. If you don’t have meats and gold distributed, you’ll be overthrown within two hours.

PAPA UBU. Meats, yes! Gold, no! Slaughter three old horses. That’s good enough for such sagouins.

MAMA UBU. Sagouin yourself! How did I end up with such an animal as you?

PAPA UBU. For the last time, I want to become richer. I won’t release a single coin.

MAMA UBU. When he has in his hands all the treasures of Poland.

BORDURE. Yes. I know that there is in the chapel an immense treasure. We will distribute it.

PAPA UBU. Wretch! Just you try!

BORDURE. But Papa Ubu, if you don’t make any distributions, the people won’t want to pay their taxes.

PAPA UBU. Is this really true?

MAMA UBU. Yes, yes!

PAPA UBU. Oh, then I agree to all. Invite three million people and cook a hundred and fifty cows and sheep, especially as I will also have some.

They leave.

SCENE VII

The court of the palace full of people.

Papa Ubu wearing a crown, Mama Ubu, Captain Bordure, hirelings loaded with meat.

PEOPLE. There’s the king! Long live the king! Hurrah!!

PAPA UBU (throwing gold). Catch. This is for you. It hardly amuses me to give you money, but you know, that’s what Mama Ubu wanted. At least promise me you’ll pay your taxes.

ALL. Yes, yes!

BORDURE. Look, Mama Ubu, see how squabble. What a battle!

MAMA UBU. It’s truly horrible. Ugh! there’s someone with his skull cracked open.

PAPA UBU. What a beautiful spectacle! Bring other cases of gold.

BORDURE. If we made a race…

PAPA UBU. Yes, that’s an idea. (To the people.) My friends, you see this case of gold? It contains three hundred thousand golden rose-nobles in genuine Polish currency. Those who want to run get at that end of the courtyard. You will start when I wave my handkerchief, and the winner will have the case. As for those that don’t win they will have this other case to share as a consolation prize.

ALL. Yes! Long live Papa Ubu! What a good king! One didn’t see anything so good in the days of Wenceslas.

PAPA UBU (to Mama Ubu with joy). Listen to them!

All the people line up at the far end of the courtyard.

PAPA UBU. One, two, three! Are you ready?

ALL. Yes! Yes!

PAPA UBU. Go!

They start running and falling over themselves. Screaming and tumult.

BORDURE. They approach! They approach!

PAPA UBU. Hey! The first one is losing ground!

MAMA UBU. No! He’s regained it.

BORDURE. Oh! He’s losing, he’s losing! Finish! It’s the other

The one that was second finishes first.

ALL. Long live Michel Fédérovitch! Long live Michel Fédérovitch!

MICHEL FÉDÉROVITCH. My lord, I really don’t know how to thank Your Majesty.

PAPA UBU. Oh, my dear friend, this is nothing. Take home your case, Michel; and the rest of you, divide this other case between you. Take a piece each until there aren’t any left.

ALL. Long live Michel Fédérovitch! Long live Papa Ubu!

PAPA UBU. And you, my friends, come and dine. I open today the doors of the palace. Please honour me by sharing my table.

PEOPLE. Let’s go! Let’s go! Long live Papa Ubu! He is the noblest of rulers!

They enter the palace. One hears the noise of an orgy that continues until the following day. The curtain falls.

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