The order from Berlin, to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine from now on, aroused a particular zeal in the school on the day of the last French lesson.
The air that day was mixed with pride and sorrow. Students, as well as elderly members of the village, came to attend the class. The ambience was quite sombre as the children were serious and some of the elders, sitting at the back benches, were crying. M. Hamel, who was dressed in his best attire, appeared to be in a pensive mood. His students and the village elders too paid great attention to everything that was being taught in the class. They hoped to learn as much as possible. Even Franz seemed to love his books. M. Hamel told those present in the class to hold on to French as it was the most beautiful language in the world. He said that their mother tongue was the key to their freedom.
A feeling of oneness and immense love and respect for the mother tongue showed on everyone’s face. The class ended with M. Hamel writing ‘Vive La France!’ on the board.