Short Story #128: Sentenced to Death by Pierre Mille

Title:  Sentenced to Death

Author:  Pierre Mille


Great French Short Stories edited by M. E. Speare.  The World Publishing Company, 1943A group of inmates are contemplating the sentence a notorious criminal who was recently caught.  They figure that he is likely to get a death sentence and this group of lifers moves on to the topic of another man who was supposed to get the death penalty but manages to have it commuted.  They bring him over into the conversation to explain his story.  Cardevaque explains that he was sentenced in March of the previous year but was hoping his execution wouldn't come until Holy Week in April.  As luck would have it, it did.  On Holy Thursday, he was informed he would be executed in the morning.  He requests to confess and hear mass as is his rights.  Because of the ensuing days, Cardevaque is not able to have confession and mass until Tuesday at the earliest.  His lawyer objects that notifying the prisoner of his impending death and then holding it off for five days is grounds for cruel and unusual punishment.  He states he will obtain a commuted sentence because of this and does.  The story ends with the group laughing at the man's luck.


It's a light and amusing story (despite it filled with people on life sentences who clearly admit their wrongdoing and brag about it).  That they beat the system is though true, they are all spending their lives within prison.  It is one of those stories that poke fun at the problems of bureaucracies and established tradition.

Short Story #128 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  5/7/2014
Source:  Great French Short Stories edited by M. E. Speare.  The World Publishing Company, 1943.  You can find this story and others in this anthology at this resource.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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