Lesson Ten The Tenth Man
It was at three the next afternoon （alarm clock time） that an officer entered the cell； the first officer they had seen for weeks – and this one was very young， with inexperience even in the shape of his mustache which he had shaved too much on the left side.
He was as embarrassed as a schoolboy making his first entry on a stage at a prize-giving， and he spoke abruptly so as to give the impression of a strength he did not possess.
He said， “There were murders last night in the town. The aide-de-camp of the military governor， a sergeant and a girl on a bicycle.” He added， “We don't complain about the girl. Frenchmen have our permission to kill Frenchwomen.”
He had obviously thought up his speech carefully beforehand， but the irony was overdone and the delivery that of an amateur actor：
the whole scene was as unreal as a charade.
He said， “You know what you are here for， living comfortably， on fine rations， while our men work and fight. Well， now you've got to pay the hotel bill. Don't blame us. Blame your own murderers. My orders are that one man in every ten shall be shot in this camp. How many of you are there？” He shouted sharply， “Number off，” and sullenly they obeyed， “…… twenty-eight， twenty-nine， thirty.” They knew he knew without counting. This was just a line in his charade he couldn't sacrifice.
He said， “Your allotment then is three. We are quite indifferent as to which three. You can choose for yourselves. The funeral rites will begin at seven tomorrow morning.”
The charade was over： they could hear his feet striking sharply on the asphalt going away.
Chavel wondered for a moment what syllable had been acted —“night，”“girl，”“aside，” or perhaps “thirty，” but it was of course the whole word—“hostage. ”
The silence went on a long time， and then a man called Krogh， an Alsatian， said， “Well， do we have to volunteer？”
“Rubbish，” said one of the clerks， a thin elderly man in pince-nez， “nobody will volunteer. We must draw lots.” He added， “Un-less it is thought that we should go by ages —the oldest first. ”
“No， no，” one of the others said， “that would be unjust. ”
“It's the way of nature.”
“Not even the way of nature，” another said. “1 had a child who died when she was five……”
“We must draw lots，” the mayor said firmly.
“It is the only fair thing.” He sat with his hands still pressed over his stomach， hiding his watch， but all through the cell you could hear its blunt tick lock tick.
He added， “On the unmarried. The married should not be included. They have responsibilities…
“Ha， ha，” Pierre said， “we see through that. Why should the married get off？ Their work's finished. You， of course， are married？”
“I have lost my wife，” the mayor said， “I am not married now. And you…”
“Married，” Pierre said.
The mayor began to undo his watch； the discovery that his rival was safe seemed to confirm his belief that as the owner of time he was bound to be the next victim.
He looked from face to face and chose Chavel， perhaps because he was the only man with a waistcoat fit to take the chain. He said， “Monsieur Chavel， I want you to hold this watch for me in case…”
“you'd better choose someone else，” Chavel said. “I am not married.”
The elderly clerk spoke again. He said， “I'm married. I've got the right to speak.
We are going the wrong way about all this. Everyone must draw lots. This isn't the last draw we shall have， and picture to yourselves what it will be like in this cell if we have a privileged class —the ones who are left to the end. The rest of you will soon begin to hate us. We shall be left out of your fear. . . “
“He's right，” Pierre said.
The mayor refastened his watch. “Have it your own way，” he said. “But if the taxes were levied like this…” He gave a gesture of despair.
“How do we draw？” Krogh asked.
Chavel said， “The quickest way would be to draw marked papers out of a shoe. . .”
Krogh said contemptuously， “Why the quickest way？ This is the last gamble some of us will have. We may as well enjoy it. I say a coin.”
“It won't work，” the clerk said. “You can't get a even chance with a coin.”
“The only way is to draw，” the mayor said.
The clerk prepared the draw， sacrificing for it one of his letters from home.
He read it rapidly for the last time， and then tore it into thirty pieces.
On three pieces he made a cross in pencil， and then folded each piece.
“Krogh's got the biggest shoe，” he said. They shuffled the pieces on the floor and then dropped them into the shoe.
“We'll draw in alphabetical order，” the mayor said.
“Z first，” Chavel said. His feeling of security was shaken. He wanted a drink badly. He picked at a dry piece of skin on his lip.
“As you wish，” the lorry driver said. “Anybody beat Voisin？ Here goes.
“He thrust his hand into the shoe and made careful excavations as though he had one particular scrap of paper in mind.
He drew one out， opened it， and gazed at it with astonishment. He said， “This is it.” He sat down and felt for a cigarette， but when he got it between his lips he forgot to light it.
Chavel was filled with a huge and shameful joy.
It seemed to him that already he was saved —twenty - nine men to draw and only two marked papers left.
The chances had suddenly grown in his favor from ten to one to—fourteen to one： the greengrocer had drawn a slip and indicated carelessly and without pleasure that he was safe.
Indeed from the first draw any mark of pleasure was taboo： one couldn't mock the condemned man by any sign of relief.
Again a dull disquiet —ii couldn't yet be described as a fear—exended its empire over Chavel's chest.
It was like a constriction： he found himself yawning as the sixth man drew a blank slip， and a sense of grievance nagged at his mind when the tenth man bad drawn—it was the one they called Janvier—and the chances were once again the same as when the draw started.
Some men drew the first slip which touched their fingers； others seemed to suspect tha t fate was trying to force on them a particular slip and when they bad drawn one a little way from the shoe would let it drop again and choose another.
Time passed with incredible slowness， and the man called Voisin sat against the wall with the unlighted cigarette in his mouth paying them no attention at all.
The chances had narrowed to one in eight when the elderly clerk —his name was Lenotre—drew the second slip.
He cleared his throat and put on his pince-nez as though he had to make sure he was not mistaken. “Ah， Monsieur Voisin，” he said with a thin undecided smile， “May I join you？”
This time Chavel felt no joy even though the elusive odds were back again overwhelmingly in his favor at fifteen to one； he was daunted by the courage of common men. He wanted the whole thing to be over as quickly as possible： like a game of cards which has gone on too long， he only wanted someone to make a move and break up the table.
。 Lenotre， sitting down against the wall next to Voisin， turned the slip over： on the back was a scrap of writing.
Your-wife？“ Voisin said.
“My daughter，” Lenotre said. “Excuse me.” He went over to his roll of bedding and drew out a writing pad. Then he sat down next to Voisin and began to write， carefully， without hurry， a thin legible hand.
The odds were back to ten to one.
From that point the odds seemed to move toward Chavel with a dreadful inevitability：
nine to one， eight to one； they were like a pointing finger.
The men who were left drew more quickly and more carelessly：
they seemed to Chavel to have some inner information —to know that he was the one.
When his time came to draw there were only three slips left ， and it appeared to Chavel a monstrous injustice that there were so few choices left for him.
He drew one out of the shoe and then feeling certain that this one had been willed on him by his companions and contained the penciled cross he threw it back and snatched another.
“You looked， lawyer，” one of the two men exclaimed， but the other quieted him.
“He didn't look. He's got the marked one now.”
“No，” Chavel said， “no.” He threw the slip upon the ground and cried， “I never consented to the draw. You can't make me die for the rest of you. . . ”
They watched him with astonishment but without enmity.
He was a gentleman. They didn't judge him by their own standards： he belonged to an unaccountable class and they didn't at first even attach the idea of cowardice to his actions.
“Listen，” Chavel implored them. He held out the slip of paper and they all watched him with compassionate curiosity. “I'll give a hundred thousand francs to anyone who'll take this.”
He took little rapid steps from one man to another， showing each man the bit of paper as if he were an attendant at an auction.
“A hundred thousand francs，” he implored， and they watched him with a kind of shocked pity： he was the only rich man among them and this was a unique situation.
They had no means of comparison and assumed that this was a characteristic of his class， just as a traveler stepping off the liner at a foreign port for luncheon sums up a nation's character forever in the wily businessman who happens to share the table with him.