Last Words
Stephen Crane
Novels
8:06 h
Level 8
Last Words is a posthumous collection of short stories, travel observations and miscellaneous other pieces by Stephen Crane, published in 1902. Stephen Crane was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer. Prolific throughout his short life, he wrote notable works in the Realist tradition as well as early examples of American Naturalism and Impressionism. He is recognized by modern critics as one of the most innovative writers of his generation. At the time of his death, Crane was considered an important figure in American literature. After he was nearly forgotten for two decades, critics revived interest in his life and work. Crane's writing is characterized by vivid intensity, distinctive dialects, and irony. Common themes involve fear, spiritual crises and social isolation.

Last Words

by
Stephen Crane


The Reluctant Voyagers

Chapter I

Two men sat by the sea waves.

“Well, I know I’m not handsome,” said one gloomily. He was poking holes in the sand with a discontented cane.

The companion was watching the waves play. He seemed overcome with perspiring discomfort as a man who is resolved to set another man right.

Suddenly his mouth turned into a straight line. “To be sure you are not,” he cried vehemently. “You look like thunder. I do not desire to be unpleasant, but I must assure you that your freckled skin continually reminds spectators of white wall paper with gilt roses on it. The top of your head looks like a little wooden plate. And your figure — heavens!”

For a time they were silent. They stared at the waves that purred near their feet like sleepy sea-kittens.

Finally the first man spoke.

“Well,” said he, defiantly, “what of it?”

“What of it,” exploded the other. “Why, it means that you’d look like blazes in a bathing-suit.”

They were again silent. The freckled man seemed ashamed. His tall companion glowered at the scenery.

“I am decided,” said the freckled man suddenly. He got boldly up from the sand and strode away. The tall man followed, walking sarcastically and glaring down at the round, resolute figure before him.

A bath-clerk was looking at the world with superior eyes through a hole in a board. To him the freckled man made application, waving his hands over his person in illustration of a snug fit. The bath-clerk thought profoundly. Eventually, he handed out a blue bundle with an air of having phenomenally solved the freckled man’s dimensions.

The latter resumed his resolute stride.

“See here,” said the tall man, following him, “I bet you’ve got a regular toga, you know. That fellow couldn’t tell — ”

“Yes, he could,” interrupted the freckled man, “I saw correct mathematics in his eyes.”