I was really late for school that morning. I was afraid that Mr. Hamel would blame me for this. We had a test that day and I wasn’t ready. I even thought of not going to school that day.

It was a hot day. The invader forces were busy practicing around that area. I rushed toward the school anyway. When I reached the square of the town, I saw a bunch of people going to different directions while holding signs in their hands. This was the place that the news of the war was usually given. I was wondering what might have happened this time?

When I arrived to school, I was out of breath. It was the beginning of the class meeting. I thought maybe I could enter the class, while the class was not completely quiet yet, without attracting the attention of the teacher. But I noticed, that unlike any other time, the class was silent. I had to open the door and get in. But to my surprise, Mr. Hamel, without any trace of anger on his face, said smoothly, “ Hurry up! Take your seat. You were just on time!”

Everything was unusual. Mr. Hamel was wearing his green coat, which was reserved for the special days. My classmates looked sad. I was even more surprised when I saw the last desks of the class, which were full of sad and depressed villagers on that day.

Mr. Hamel said with kindness, “My dear children! This is the last day that I’m teaching you. There is an order from Berlin that from now on the schools should only teach German. Today, you will read French, your mother language, for the last time.”

So this was our last lesson in our mother language and I still couldn’t read and write well. I felt sorry for not being serious about learning the language and only worrying about having fun. The books that looked boring were now dear to me. I was so sad about not being able to see Mr. Hamel again, that I forgot all his smacks with his ruler.

So he was wearing his special coat because it was the last class. And the villagers were there since they were sorry for not bothering to attend the classes and learn writing and reading in their mother language.

The teacher asked me to read the lesson but I couldn’t. Mr. Hamel said, “I don’t blame you. You will experience the penalty of your laziness and that’s a big punishment! We are used to tell ourselves that we will learn tomorrow. You claim that you are from this place but you can’t read and write your mother language. Every nation that forgets its language is like a person in a jail with a lost key.


Then, he started to teach a new lesson and I learned it well for the first time since I paid attention.

All of a sudden, the bell rang 12 times and announced the end of class time. Mr. Hamel said in a sad tone, “My dear friends…” But it was like something was tightening his throat and he couldn’t finish his sentence. Then, he picked a chalk and wrote “God Bless the Homeland” and gestured that we could leave.


Alfonse is a French writer, born in 1840. He is famous in writing short stories. The story of “The Last Lesson” is the most famous of his stories, in which he describes the psychological conditions of the children who haven’t realized the importance of their mother language and the value of their culture and homeland and they are awakened when their land is being occupied. Alfonse Daudet passed away in 1897.

* * *

Taken and revised from the book “Short Stories from the Famous Literal People of the World”--Rasti No publishers--Naseri Zadeh

         * * *

Thanks to my dear colleague Ms. Mousavi from Florida for translating the above story.

-- Khaleh Parvaneh