Page:Twice-Told Tales (1851) vol 2.djvu/219

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213
CHIPPINGS WITH A CHISEL.

himself taken the needful precautions for posthumous remembrance, by bespeaking an immense slab of white marble, with a long epitaph in raised letters, the whole to be as magnificent as Mr. Wigglesworth's skill could make it. There was something very characteristic in this contrivance to have his money's worth even from his own tomb-stone, which, indeed, afforded him more enjoyment in the few months that he lived thereafter, than it probably will in a whole century, now that it is laid over his bones. This incident reminds me of a young girl, a pale, slender, feeble creature, most unlike the other rosy and healthful damsels of the Vineyard, amid whose brightness she was fading away. Day after day did the poor maiden come to the sculptor's shop, and pass from one piece of marble to another, till at last she penciled her name upon a slender slab, which, I think, was of a more spotless white than all the rest. I saw her no more, but soon afterwards found Mr. Wigglesworth cutting her virgin name into the stone which she had chosen.

'She is dead—poor girl,' said he, interrupting the tune which he was whistling, 'and she chose a good piece of stuff for her head-stone. Now which of these slabs would you like best to see your own name upon?'

'Why, to tell you the truth, my good Mr. Wigglesworth,' replied I, after a moment's pause,—for the abruptness of the question had somewhat startled me,—'to be quite sincere with you, I care little or nothing about a stone for my own grave, and am somewhat inclined to skepticism as to the propriety of erecting monuments at all, over the dust that once was human.