The story takes place in Algeria and begins with two men climbing a rocky slope. One of them, the gendarme Balducci, is on horseback and the other, an Arab prisoner, is on foot. At the summit of the hill, a school teacher named Daru watches them climb their way up. There are no students at the school at this time because they stayed home during the blizzard. The two men reach the top of the slope and come to meet Daru. Balducci, an acquaintance of Daru, tells Daru he is ordered by the government to take the prisoner to the police headquarters in Tinguit as a service to his fellow officers. Daru inquires about the crime the Arab committed and Balducci says that he slit his cousin's throat in a fight for some grain, and adds that the prisoner is probably not a rebel. As Balducci is leaving, Daru tells him that he will not take the Arab to Tinguit. Balducci is angered by this and makes Daru sign a paper that states the prisoner is in Daru's custody, then he leaves them. Daru feeds the Arab and gives him a cot to sleep on for the night. In the morning, Daru takes his captive slightly down the mountain and sets him free. He supplies the prisoner with a thousand francs and some food and tells him if he goes east, he can turn himself in to the police in Tinguit. If he goes south, he can hide with the nomads. Daru then goes back to the school, leaving the prisoner to make his decision. A while later, Daru looks back and sees the prisoner heading east to Tinguit, most likely to turn himself in. When Daru looks back at the blackboard in his classroom, there is a message written on it that says, "Tu as livré notre frère. Tu paieras." (You have turned in our brother, you will pay).
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