King Ubu – Act4


The crypt of the ancient kings of Poland in the cathedral of Warsaw.

Mama Ubu, alone.

MAMA UBU. Now, where is this treasure? No tile sounds hollow. Yet I carefully counted thirteen flagstones from the tomb of Ladislas the Great going along the wall, and there is not anything. Someone must have deceived me. No! Here the tile sounds hollow. To work. Mama Ubu! Let’s loosen this stone. It holds fast. Let’s use the end of the money-crook. It will serve its purpose again. There! There is gold in the middle of the bones of kings. Into our bag, then, with it all! Hey! What is this noise? In these old vaults, can anything still be alive? No, it’s nothing. Let’s hurry. Let’s take all. This money will be better off in daylight than in the middle of tombs of old princes. Let’s put back the stone. Now what? Still that noise! This place scares me. I will take the remainder of this some other time. I will come back tomorrow.

A VOICE (rising from the tomb of Jean Sigismond). Never, Mama Ubu!

Mama Ubu runs away terrified, carrying off the stolen money through a secret door.


The town square in Warsaw.

Bougrelas and his men, People and soldiers.

BOUGRELAS. Forward, my friends! Long live Wenceslas and Poland! That old rogue, Papa Ubu, is gone. All that remains is the old witch, Mama Ubu, and her champion. I offer to march at your head and to re-establish the race of my forefathers.

ALL. Long live Bougrelas!

BOUGRELAS. And I’ll revoke all the taxes established by the awful Papa Ubu.

ALL. Hurrah! Forward! Let’s run to the palace and slaughter the whole brood.

BOUGRELAS. Hey! There is Mama Ubu coming down the stairway with her guards.

MAMA UBU. What is it you want, gentlemen? Ah! It is Bougrelas!

The crowd launches stones.

FIRST GUARD. All the windows are broken.

SECOND GUARD. Saint George, I am stunned!

THIRD GUARD. Cornelius, I die.

BOUGRELAS. Launch stones, my friends.

PALADIN LAP. Hey! It is thus!

He unsheathes his sword and rushes in, wreaking terrible carnage.

BOUGRELAS. Have at you! En-garde, you loose cannon!

They fight.

PALADIN LAP. I’m dying!

BOUGRELAS. Victory, my friends! And now for Mama Ubu!

Trumpets sound.

BOUGRELAS. Ah! There are the Nobles arriving. Let’s run. Let’s catch the evil harpy!

THE OTHERS. Until we strangle the old bandit!

Mama Ubu runs away pursued by all the Poles. Shots and hail of stones.


The Polish army on the march in the Ukraine.

PAPA UBU (enters dragging a long bridle). Blue corn! Ham of God! Head of cow! We are going to perish because we die of thirst and tiredness. Lord Soldier, have the kindness to carry our phynance box, and you, Lord Lancer, take charge of the pshite-chisel and physics-stick to relieve our person, because, I repeat, we are tired.

The soldiers obey.

BATTERY. Hey! Mister! It is astonishing that the Russians don’t appear.

PAPA UBU. It is regrettable that the state of our finances doesn’t permit us to have a car big enough for our needs; because, for fear of demolishing our nag, we came the whole way on foot, trailing our horse by the bridle. But when we are back in Poland, we will invent, by means of our science in physics and helped by the enlightenment of our councillors, a car to transport the whole army.

COTICE. There’s Nicholas Rensky on a hurry.

PAPA UBU. What’s bothering him, this boy?

RENSKY. All is lost. Lord! The Poles are revolting. Lap is killed and Mama Ubu has fled to the mountains.

PAPA UBU. Bird of night, beast of misfortune, owl in gaiters! Where do you finish with these nonsenses? It’s just one thing after another. And who did it? Bougrelas, I bet. From whence do you come?

RENSKY. From Warsaw, noble Sire.

PAPA UBU. Boy of my pshite, if I believed you I’d make the whole army go back the same way it came. But, esteemed youth, there are on your shoulders more feathers than brains and you’ve dreamt this silliness. Back to the outposts, my boy. The Russians are not far off, and we will have soon to draw our weapons and attack with everything we’ve got – pshite, phynances and physics.

GENERAL LACSY. Papa Ubu, don’t you see the Russians on the plain?

PAPA UBU. It is true! The Russians! And now I am bolloxed! If there was means for me to get away – but not at all. We are on a height and exposed on all sides.

THE ARMY. The Russians! The enemy!

PAPA UBU. Let’s go, gentlemen. let’s take up our positions for the battle. We’re going to stay on this hill and won’t commit the blunder of descending to the bottom. I will hold the middle like a living citadel and the rest of you will circle around me. I recommend that you put in your rifles as many bullets as they’ll hold, because eight bullets can kill eight Russians and that’s a few less I won’t have on my back. We’ll put the infantry at the bottom of the hill to receive the Russians and kill them a little, riders behind to throw themselves into the confusion, and the artillery around the windmill here to fire into the heap. As for us, we will stay inside the windmill and will fire with our phynance-gun through the window. Across the door we’ll place the physics-stick and if someone tries to enter we’ll use the pshite-hook!

OFFICERS. Your orders, Lord Ubu, will be executed.

PAPA UBU. Hey! It goes well. We will be winners. What hour is it?

GENERAL LASCY. Eleven O’clock in the morning.

PAPA UBU. Then we shall dine because the Russians won’t attack before noon. Tell the soldiers, Esteemed General, to get themselves ready and to begin the Song of Finances.

Lascy leaves.

SOLDIERS and PALADINS. Long live Papa Ubu! Ting, ting, ting; ting, ting, ting; ting, ting, tating!

PAPA UBU. Oh, the brave people. I adore them!

A Russian cannonball arrives and breaks off a vane of the mill.

PAPA UBU. Ah! I’m scared. Lord God, I’m dead! And yet, no – I’ve no injuries.


The same.

A captain, then the Russian army.

A CAPTAIN (coming in). Lord Ubu, the Russians attack.

PAPA UBU. Hey, well, what do you expect me to do about it? It wasn’t me who told them to. However, Gentlemen of Finances, let us prepare to fight.

A second cannonball. Papa Ubu is bowled over, the cannonball bouncing up and down on his belly several times before coming to a stop.

GENERAL LASCY. A second cannonball! I’m getting out of here.

He flees.

PAPA UBU. Ah, I’ve had enough. It rains lead and iron here and we could damage our precious person. Let’s descend.

All descend quickly. The battle has just begun. They disappear into torrents of smoke at the foot of the hill.

A RUSSIAN (striking). For God and the Czar!

RENSKY. Ah! I’m dead!

PAPA UBU. Forward!! Ah you, mister – you that I’m hitting because you tried to hit me first-do you hear? You bag of wine, with your musket that doesn’t go off.

THE RUSSIAN. Is that so?

He shoots him with a revolver.

PAPA UBU. Ah! Oh! I am wounded! I am pierced! I am punched! I’m done for! I’m buried! Except that he missed! Ah! I got him! (He rips him open.) Now start something!

GENERAL LASCY. Forward! Let’s press home our advantage! Cross the moat! Victory is ours!!

PAPA UBU. You think so? So far I feel on my forehead more bumps than laurels.

RUSSIAN CAVALRY. Hurrah! Make way for the Czar!

The Czar enters, accompanied by Bordure, disguised.

A POLE. Ah! Lord! Save what you can! There’s the Czar!

ANOTHER. Ah! My God! He’s crossing the moat.

A THIRD. Biff! Boff! There’s four of them stunned by that big bastard of a lieutenant.

BORDURE. Ah! had enough, the rest of you? Hold, Jean Sobiesky, this is what’s due to you! (He stuns him.) Now for the others!

He massacres the Poles.

PAPA UBU. Forward, my friends! Catch this blighter! We’ll make minced meat of these Muscovites! Victory is ours! Long live the red Eagle!

ALL. Forward! Hurrah! Ham of God! Get the big feller!

BORDURE. By Saint George, I have fallen.

PAPA UBU (recognising him). Ah, it is you, Bordure! Ah, my friend, we are well happy, along with everyone else present, to see you. I’m going to cook you slowly! Gentlemen of Finances, light a fire. Ah! Oh! Ah! I’m dead. It is at least a cannonball I received. Ah! my God, forgive me my sins. Yes, it is definitely a cannonball.

BORDURE. You’ve been shot with a cap-pistol.

PAPA UBU. Ah! You ridicule me! Again? I’ll show you!

He rushes at Bordure and tears him apart.

GENERAL LASCY. Papa Ubu, we advance on all fronts.

PAPA UBU. So I see, but I’m not able to do any more. I am bereft of energy. I would like to sit down on the floor. (Sits on the ground.) Oh! my bollocks!

GENERAL LASCY. Go take the Czar’s instead. Papa Ubu.

PAPA UBU. Hey! I’ll do that at once. Let’s go! Pshite-sword, do your duty, and you, money-crook, don’t remain behind. Physics-stick, emulate them unstintingly, and share with this swagger stick the honour of slaughtering, burying and abusing the Muscovite emperor. Forward, Mr. Horse of Phynances!

He charges at the Czar.

A RUSSIAN OFFICER. Watch out, Your Majesty!

PAPA UBU. Take that, you! Oh! Ouch! Ah! But all the same. Ah!, gentlemen, mercy! Leave me alone. Oh! But I didn’t mean it.

He runs away. The Czar pursues him.

PAPA UBU. Holy Virgin, this fanatic pursues me! I’ve got to escape, great God! Ah! Good, there is the moat. But I feel him breathing down my neck. Courage! Let’s close our eyes!

He jumps the moat. The Czar falls in.

THE CZAR. Bollocks! I’ve fallen in.

POLES. Hurrah! the Czar is down!

PAPA UBU. I hardly dare turn around! Ah! That’s good. He’s a sitting target. That’s it, Poles, give him a good kicking! He’s got a broad back, the poor sod! No, I don’t dare watch. All the same, our prediction was spot on. The physics-stick worked marvels. There’s no doubt that I would have completely killed him if an inexplicable terror had not come upon me and annulled in us the effects of our courage. But we had to suddenly turn tail, and owe our preservation only to our riding skills and to the solidity of the hocks of our Horse of Phynances, whose speed is equalled only by its strength, and whose agility is famous, and also to the depth of the moat which was fortunately in the path of the enemy of those here present, Mister Finance. All of which is very beautiful, but no one’s listening to me. Let’s go! Here we go again!

The Russian dragoons charge, and rescue the Czar.

GENERAL LASCY (running across). This time it’s a rout!

PAPA UBU. Ah! That’s our cue to get out of here. Therefore, gentlemen of Poland, forward! Or rather, backward!

POLES. Every man for himself!

PAPA UBU. Let’s go! What a shower, what a rout, what a multitude! How am I going to get out of this mess? (He is knocked over.) Ah! But you! Pay attention, or you’re going to taste the wrath of Mister Finance. Ah! he’s gone. Let’s save ourselves – and quick! – while Lascy isn’t looking.

He runs off, then we see the Czar and the Russian army pursuing the Poles.


A cave in Lithuania.

It snows.

Papa Ubu, Battery, Cotice

PAPA UBU. Ah! What a wretched time. It’s freezing enough to split a rock and the person of Mister Finance is badly damaged.

BATTERY. Hey! Mister Ubu, are you over your terror and your flight?

PAPA UBU. Yes. I’m not afraid any more, but I must flee again.

COTICE (aside). What a swine!

PAPA UBU. Hey, Lord Cotice, your yard. How goes it?

COTICE. As well, sir, as it can and it could be worse. By consequeynt of the fact thatte the lead bends it to the ground, and I can’t extract the bullet.

PAPA UBU. That’s good. You were always wanting to strike others. Me, I displayed the greatest courage and without exposing myself to danger I slaughtered four enemies by my own hands, not counting those that had already died.

COTICE. Do you know, Battery, what became of little Rensky?

BATTERY. He received a bullet in the head.

PAPA UBU. Just as the poppy and the dandelion are mowed down by the pitiless efforts of the pitiless mower who mows them down pitilessly, so did little Rensky play the poppy. He is a hard man to beat, but there were too many Russians.


AN ECHO (in the wings). Hhrron!

BATTERY. What’s that? Let’s arm ourselves with our torches.

PAPA UBU. Ah, no! More Russians, I bet! I’ve had enough! Bottom line: if they piss me off, I’ll marmalise them.


The same.

Enter a bear.

COTICE. Hey! Mister Finance!

PAPA UBU. Oh, hold! Look at the little doggy. He’s so cute.

BATTERY. Look out! Ah! what an enormous bear! My cartridges!

PAPA UBU. A bear? Ah! the atrocious beast! Poor poor me, I’m being eaten! God save me! He’s coming for me! No, it’s Cotice he’s after. Ah! I breathe.

The bear throws himself on Cotice. Battery attacks the bear with a knife. Ubu takes refuge on a rock.

COTICE. To me, Battery! To me! Help me, Mister Ubu!

PAPA UBU. Bernique! Sort it out yourself, my friend. We’re saying our Pater Noster. Everyone will have his turn to get eaten.

BATTERY. I have him! I’m holding him!

COTICE. Hold tight, my friend. He’s beginning to let go of me.

PAPA UBU. Sanctificetur nomem tuum.

COTICE. Filthy coward!

BATTERY. Ah! He’s biting me! Oh Lord, save us. I am dying.

PAPA UBU. Fiat voluntas tua.

COTICE. Ah! I have succeeded in wounding him.

BATTERY. Hurrah! he’s losing blood!

Amidst the cries of the Paladins, the bear bellows in pain and Ubu continues to mutter.

COTICE. Hold him tight so I can get him with my explosive punch.

PAPA UBU. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie.

BATTERY. Get on with it. I can’t hold on much longer.

PAPA UBU. Sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.

COTICE. Ah! I have him!

An explosion sounds and the bear drops dead.


PAPA UBU. Sed libera nos a malo. Amen. Is it very dead yet? Can I come down from my rock?

BATTERY (with contempt). If you wish.

PAPA UBU (descending). You may flatter yourselves that if you are still living, and if you tread the snows of Lithuania again, you owe it to the magnanimous virtue of the Master of Finance, who strained himself, broke his back, and near lost his voice saying paternosters for your safety, and who handled the spiritual sword of prayer with as much courage as you who handled the temporal explosive punch of the here-present Paladin Cotice. We pushed our devotion even further, because we did not hesitate to go up on a very high rock so that our prayers had less distance to cross to reach the sky.

BATTERY. Revolting she-ass!

PAPA UBU. Here is a stupid beast. Thanks to me, you have something to eat. What a belly, gentlemen! The Greeks would have been more at ease in there than in their hobby-horse, and we were, dear friends, close to being able to testify with our own eyes his internal capacity.

BATTERY. I’m dying of hunger. What is there to eat?

COTICE. The bear!

PAPA UBU. Hey! poor lads, are you going to eat it all raw? We don’t have anything to make fire.

BATTERY. Don’t we have our rifle flints?

PAPA UBU. Hold, it is true. And it seems to me we are not too far from a small wood where there must be some dry branches. Be off to look for it, Master Cotice.

Cotice goes off across the snow.

BATTERY. And now, Master Ubu, go ahead and cut up the bear.

PAPA UBU. Oh no! He might not be dead. While you, who are already half eaten and bitten all over, you’re just made for the part. I’m going to light a fire until he brings wood.

Battery begins to cut up the bear.

PAPA UBU. Oh! Watch out! It moved.

BATTERY. But Lord Ubu, it’s already cold.

PAPA UBU. That’s a pity. It would have been better to eat it hot. This is going to give the Master of Finance indigestion.

BATTERY (aside). He’s disgusting. (Aloud.) Give us a hand, Mr. Ubu, to complete the task.

PAPA UBU. No, I don’t feel like doing anything. I am tired, as a matter of fact.

COTICE (returning). What snow, my friends! One would think oneself in Castille or at the North Pole. Night begins to fall. In one hour it will be black. Let’s hurry while we still can see.

PAPA UBU. Yes, do you hear, Battery? Hurry yourself! Both of you, hurry yourselves. Put the beast on a spit, cook the beast. I’m hungry, me!

BATTERY. Ah, it’s too much! You have to work or you won’t get anything, you hear, guzzler?

PAPA UBU. Oh! it’s all the same to me. I’d just as soon eat it raw. It is you who will suffer. Besides which, I’m sleepy.

COTICE. What, Battery, do you want? Let’s eat the dinner all ourselves. He won’t get any, that’s all. Or else we could give him the bones.

BATTERY. Fine. Ah, the fire is catching.

PAPA UBU. Oh! that’s good. It’s warm now. But I see Russians everywhere. What a rout, great God! Ah!

He falls asleep.

COTICE. I wish I knew if what Rensky said is true, whether Mama Ubu is indeed dethroned. It ‘s not impossible.

BATTERY. Let’s finish supper.

COTICE. No, we have to speak of more important things. I think it would be a good idea for us to inquire as to the veracity of this news.

BATTERY. You’re right. Should we abandon Papa Ubu, or stay with him?

COTICE. The night brings wisdom. Let’s go to sleep. We’ll decide tomorrow what needs to be done.

BATTERY. No, better to use the night to slip away.

COTICE. Let’s go then.

They leave.


Ubu speaks while sleeping.

Ah! Lord Russian Dragoon, pay attention. Don’t shoot that way; everybody’s there! Ah! there’s Bordure. He is bad, one would say a bear. And Bougrelas who comes at me! The bear, the bear! Ah, there he is down! It is tough, Great God! I don’t want to do any work, me!. Bog off, Bougrelas! Do you hear, you fool? There’s Rensky now, and the Czar! Oh! they’re going to fight me. And Madame Ubu! Where’d you get all this anyway? You stole my gold, you wretch! You’ve plundered my tomb in Warsaw Cathedral, close to the Moon. I’ve been dead a long time, me. It is Bougrelas that killed me, and I am buried at Warsaw close to Vladislas the Great, and also in Cracow close to Jean Sigismond, and also at Thorn in the dungeon with Bordure. There he is again! But go, accursed bear. You look just like Bordure! Do you hear, beast of Satan? No, he doesn’t hear. The Snot-noses cut off his ears. That’s it! Slaughter them! Cut off their ears! Take all their money! And drink yourself to death! That’s the life of the Snot-noses – that’s the luck of the Master of Finance.

He falls silent and sleeps.


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