What started my mind wandering was not the actual last lines, but the beginning of the last chapter:
Yes, reader, we must settle accounts now. I have only briefly to narrate the final fates of some of the personages who acquaintance we have made in this narrative, and then you and I must shake hands, and for the present separate.
How often do we wish that an author would do this for us. We sometimes want to know what happens to all the different characters at the end of a novel. However, it is sometimes more fun to wonder what happened to them and make up our own future stories.
So what are the last lines of Shirley?
The story is told. I think I now see the judicious reader putting on his spectacles to look for the moral. It would be an insult to his sagacity to offer directions. I only say, God speed him in the quest!
And now I think I have said sufficient.
One of my favorite novels is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The end of the novel was revised several times, but since the title of this post is Last Lines, I decided that I would share the last ending that Dickens wrote. It is also my favorite of the endings.
I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so, the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.
I may have to read Great Expectations again soon.
…. and so there ain’t nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I’d a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn’t a tackled it and ain’t agoing to no more. But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.
Huck here says that making a book is trouble and he ain’t agoing to no more. However, he goes on to narrate Tom Sawyer, Detective and Tom Sawyer Abroad.
But now a new history commences: a story of the gradual renewing of a man, of his slow progressive regeneration, and change from one world to another — an introduction to the hitherto unknown realities of life. This may well form the theme of a new tale; the one we wished to offer the reader is ended.
Does this make you wonder about a new tale? Would you want to read a sequel with these themes?
I don’t think that I have given away the ending of any of these novels. However, I may have you thinking about what preceded these last lines.
Do you have a favorite last line of a novel?