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The last lesson

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The Last Lesson

Alphonse Daudet

  I was very late that morning on my way to school and was afraid of being scolded. The master had told us he would question us on verbs, and I did not know a thing about them, for I had not done my lesson.

  For a moment I thought of playing truant. The air was so warm and bright, and I could hear the blackbirds whistling on the edge of the woods, and the Prussians drilling in the meadows behind the sawmill.

  I liked this much better than learning the rules of verbs, but I did not dare to stop, so I ran quickly towards school.

  Passing the mayor"s office, I saw people standing before the little bulletin board. For two years it was there that we had received all the news of battles, of victories and defeats.

  "What is it now?" I thought, without stopping.

Then, as I ran along, the blacksmith, who was there reading the notice, cried out to me, "Not so fast, little one, you will reach your school soon enough."  

I thought he was making fun of me and ran faster than ever, reaching the schoolyard quite out of breath.

 Usually at the beginning of school, the noise of desks being opened and closed, and lessons repeated at the top of the children"s voices could be heard out in the street. Occasionally the master beat the table with the heavy ruler as he cried, "Silence, please, silence!"

  I had hoped to be able to take my seat in all this noise without being seen; but that morning the room was quiet and orderly.

  Through the open window I saw my schoolmates already in their places. The master was walking up and down the room with the iron ruler under his arm and a book in his hand.

  As I entered he looked at me kindly, and said, without scolding, "Go quickly to your place, little Franz; we were going to begin without you. You should have been here five minutes ago."

  I climbed over my bench and sat down at once at my desk. Just then I noticed, for the first time, that our master wore his fine green coat and his black silk embroidered cap.

  But what surprised me most was to see some of the village people seated on the benches at the end of the room. One of them was holding an old spelling book on his knee; and they all looked sadly at the master.

 While I was wondering at this, our schoolmaster took his place. "Children," he said, "this is the last time that I shall give you a lesson. An order has come from Berlin that no language but German may be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. A new master will come tomorrow who will teach you German. Today is your last lesson in French. I beg you to pay attention."

  These words frightened me. This was what they had posted on the bulletin board then! This was what the blacksmith was reading!

My last lesson in French! I hardly knew how to write, and I never should learn now. How I regretted the hours wasted in the woods and fields, the days when I had played and should have studied!

  My books that a short time ago had seemed so tiresome, so heavy to carry, now seemed to me like old friends.

  I was thinking of this when I heard my name called. It was my turn to recite. What would I not have given to be able to say the rules without a mistake! But I could not say a word, and stood at my bench without daring to lift my head. Then I heard the master speaking to me.

  "I shall not scold you, little Franz. You are punished enough now. Every day you have said to yourself, "I have plenty of time. I will learn my lessons tomorrow." Now you see what has happened."

  Then he began to talk to us about the French language, saying that it was the most beautiful tongue in the world, and that we must keep it among us and never forget it.

  Finally he took the grammar and read us the lesson. I was surprised to see how well I understood. Everything seemed easy. I believed, too, that I had never listened so attentively; and it almost seemed as if the good man were trying to teach us all he knew at this last lesson.

  When the lesson in grammar was over we began our writing. For that day the master had prepared some cards on which were written, "Alsace, France; Alsace, France."

  They seemed like so many little flags dotted about the schoolroom. How we worked! Nothing was heard but the voice of the master and the scratching of pens on paper. There was no time for play now. On the roof of the schoolhouse some pigeons were softly cooing, and I said to myself, "Will they, too, be obliged to sing in German?"

  From time to time, when I looked up from my page, I saw the master looking about him as if he wished to impress upon his mind everything in the room.

  After writing, we had a history lesson. Next, the little ones recited in concert their "Ba, be, bi, bo, bu".

  Oh, I shall always remember that last lesson!

  Suddenly the church clock struck twelve. The master rose from his chair. "My friends," said he, "my friends, ... I ... I ..."

  But something choked him; he could not finish the sentence. He returned to the blackboard, took a piece of chalk, and wrote in large letters, "VIVE LA FRANCE."

  Then he stood leaning against the wall, unable to speak. He signed to us with his hand. "The lesson is over. You are dismissed."

参考译文:

最后一课

阿方斯•都德

  那天早上我很晚才去上学,心中害怕要挨训斥。老师说过要问我们动词的问题,可是我没有温习功课,一点也不会。  

  逃学的念头在我脑子里闪了一下。天气多么暖和,多么晴朗呀!林边树梢上画眉在吟唱,锯木厂后面的草坪上传来普鲁士军人操练的声音。

  此情此景比学习动词规则有趣多了,可是我不敢逗留,就赶紧朝学校跑去。

  经过镇公所,我看见一群人站在小布告牌前。这两年,我们就是在这儿得到关于战争的各种消息,有打胜仗的,有吃败仗的。

  “又有什么事了?”我寻思着,没停下脚步。

  我刚跑过去,这时,在那儿看布告的铁匠朝我喊道:“别跑那么快,小家伙,你来得及赶到学校的。”

  我以为他是同我开玩笑,便跑得更快了。到学校的时候,已经上气不接下气了。

  平时,刚开始上课的时候,在街上就能听到课桌开开关关的乒乓声和孩子们一遍遍高声念课文的读书声。有时,老师还用大戒尺拍打讲桌,喊道:“安静点,请安静点!”

  我本想趁着这阵喧闹神不知鬼不觉地溜到自己的座位上。可是这天早上,教室里却安安静静,规规矩矩。

  从开着的窗子望进去,我看到同学们已端坐在自己的座位上,老师手里拿着一本书,胳膊下夹着铁戒尺,在教室里走过来走过去。

  我走进教室,老师慈祥地看着我,口气不带责备地说:“快到座位上去吧,小弗朗茨,我们就要开始上课了,不准备等你了。你应该5分钟前到教室才是。”

  我跨过板凳,坐到座位上。这时我才发现,老师第一次穿上了他那件漂亮的绿上衣,戴着黑色绣边丝帽。

  但是最叫我吃惊的是看到教室后面的凳子上坐着好些村民,有个人还在膝上放着一本旧拼写书。他们个个都忧郁地望着老师。

  我正感到纳闷,只见老师登上了讲台,对我们说:“孩子们,这是我最后一次给你们上课了。柏林已下令,阿尔萨斯和洛林的学校只准教德语。明天新老师就来教你们德语。今天是你们最后一次法语课,我恳求你们用心听讲。”

  听了这几句话,我吓坏了。原来布告牌上讲的是这么回事!原来铁匠看的是这么一个布告!

  我最后一次上法语课了!我几乎还不会作文呢,就再也不能学了。想起浪费在树林和田野里的时光,想起本应学习却只顾玩耍的那些日子,我真后悔极了!

  就在刚才还觉得那么讨厌、那么沉重难带的课本,此时对于我却像老朋友一般亲切!

  我正想着,忽然听见老师叫我的名字。轮到我背书了。唉,要是我能一点不错地说出动词的规则该多好哇!可是我一个字也说不出,站在座位上不敢抬头。这时,听到老师对我说:

  “我不批评你,小弗朗茨。你现在心里够难过的了。你以前总是在想:‘时间有的是,明天再学不迟。’这下你知道后果了吧。”

  然后他开始对我们讲起了法兰西语言。他说法语是世界上最美的语言,我们一定要经常讲,永远不要忘掉。

  说完这些,老师拿起文法书,给我们讲课。真怪,我今天全能听懂,老师讲的似乎都挺容易。这才明白,我从来没有这么用心听课。这个好心的人仿佛要在这最后一堂课把他的全部知识教给我们。

  文法讲完了就开始习字。老师专门为那一天准备了一些卡片,上面写着:“法兰西,阿尔萨斯;法兰西,阿尔萨斯。”

  这些卡片就像无数面小旗点缀着教室。我们个个都那么用功!课堂里一点声音也没有,只听见老师的讲课声和铅笔在纸上写字的沙沙声。现在谁也顾不上玩了。教室的屋顶上,几只鸽子在咕咕咕地轻声叫着,我心想:“会不会叫鸽子唱歌也用德语?”

  我不时从练习纸上抬起头,每一次都看见老师在望着周围,仿佛要把教室里的一切都印在心上。

  写完字,老师又给我们讲历史。然后教小班的同学齐声念着“Ba, Be, Bi, Bo, Bu”来拼音。

  啊,我永远忘不了这最后的一次课!

  突然,教堂的钟声敲响了12下。老师从座位上站起来。“朋友们……”他说,“朋友们……我……我……”

  他的声音哽咽了,说不下去。他回到黑板前,拿起一根粉笔,写下几个大字:“法兰西万岁!”

  写完字,老师靠着墙站在那儿,说不出话来。他对我们摆了摆手,好像说:“下课了,你们走吧。”
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