Why were the old men of the village sitting in the classroom on the last day of the lesson?

The village people, including the former Mayor, the former postmaster, old Hauser and several others, occupied the back benches in the classroom on the day of the last lesson. They had come to pay respect to the teacher, M. Hamel for his faithful service and also to the country that was no longer theirs. Being present for the last lesson was an opportunity for everybody to bid farewell to their mother tongue and also to rid the conscience of the guilt of not having learnt the language when there was still time.

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