The narrator of the story is a little school boy, Franz. The story opens with Franz being late for the school on a beautiful warm morning. He was scared that his teacher M. Hamel would scold him because he was late and had not learned his French lesson on participles. As it was a beautiful day, he was tempted to run away from school and spend it outdoors but he decides to go to school finally.
On his way to school, he passed through the town hall, there he saw a crowd gathered around a bulletin-board. In the past, all the bad news had come from that board during the war. Franz wondered what the news was, this time but hurried to school.
When Franz reached school, unlike other days there was an unusual silence. He hurried towards his classroom. Franz was surprised to see that everybody was already in their seats and the last benches were occupied by the elders of the village and all of them looked sad.
M. Hamel also seemed kinder than usual. He was dressed in his special clothes which he wore only on special occasions. As Franz sat wondering about what was happening, M. Hamel announced that it was his last French class. There had been an order from Berlin that only German would be taught in schools of Alsace and Lorraine. After this announcement Franz was overcome with feelings of regret for he had wasted his time in petty things. M. Hamel tells everybody that French is a very beautiful language. He further added that they would be made fun of by people for calling themselves French because they could not write or speak their own language.
Then M. Hamel asked Franz to recite the rules of participles but he was very kind when Franz was unable to recite the rules. He also remarked that many parents preferred to send their children to work rather than to school. As the class progressed M. Hamel taught the grammar for the last time very patiently followed by writing lesson. The elders came to show their respect towards M. Hamel for his hard work and dedication of forty years.
At twelve, the church bell struck and it was the end of their last lesson. M. Hamel was filled with strong emotions and wrote on blackboard, Vive La France!– Long live France!