The Touch Human by Will Lillibridge
Good-night. A lingering of finger tips that touched, as by
accident; a bared head; the regular tap of shoes on cement, as a man
walked down the path.
Good-nightand God bless thee, he repeated softly, tenderly,
under his breath, that none but he might hear: words of faith spoken
reverently, and by one who believes not in the God known of the herd.
Good-nightand God bless thee, whispered the woman slowly; and
the south wind, murmuring northward, took the words and carried them
gently away as sacred things.
The woman stood thinking, dreaming, her color mounting, her eyes
dimming, as she read deep the mystery of her own heart.
They had sat side by side the entire evening, and had talked of life
and of its hidden things; or else had remained silent in the unspoken
converse that is even sweeter to those who understand each other.
She had said of a mutual friend: He is a man I admire; he has an
A thing but few of earth possess.
No; I think you are wrong. I believe all people have ideals. They
must; life would not be life without.
You mean object rather than ideal. Does not an ideal mean something
beautifulsomething beyondsomething we'd give our all for? Not our
working hours alone, but our hours of pleasure and our times of
thought. An ideal is an intangible thinghaving much of the
supernatural in its make-up; 'tis a fetish for which we'd sacrifice
lifeor the strongest passion of life,love.
Is this an ideal, though? Could anything be beautiful to us after
we'd sacrificed much of life, and all of love in its attainment? Is not
everything that is opposed to love also opposed to the ideal? Is not an
ideal, when all is told, nothing but a great lovethe great personal
love of each individual?
He turned to the woman, and there was that in his face which caused
her eyes to drop, and her breath to come more quickly.
I don't know. I'm miserable, and lonely, and tired. I've thought I
had an ideal, and I followed it, working for it faithfully and for it
alone. I've shown it to myself, glowing, splendid, when I became weary
and ready to yield. I've sacrificed, in attempting its attainment,
youth and pleasureself, continually. Still, I'm afar offand still
the light beckons me on. I work day after day, and night after night,
as ever; but the faith within me is growing weaker. Might not the ideal
I worshipped after all be an earth-born thing, an ambition whose
brightness is not of pure gold, but of tinsel? That which I have
sought, speaks always to me so loudly that there may be no mistake in
'I am thy god,' it says; 'worship meand me alone.
Sacrificesacrificesacrificethyselfthy love. Thus shalt thou
One day I stopped my work to think; hid myself solitary that I
might question. 'What shall I have when I attain thee?' I asked.
'Famefamethe plaudits of the peoplea pedestal apart.'
'Yes,' whispered my soul to me, 'and a great envy always
surrounding; a great fight always to hold thy small pedestal secure.'
Of such as this are ideals made? No. 'Twas a mistake. I have sought
not an ideal, but an ambitiona worthless thing. An ideal is something
beautifula great love. 'Tis not yet too late to correct my fault; to
seek this idealthis beautiful thingthis love.
He reached over to the woman and their fingers, as by chance,
touching, lingered together. His eyes shone, and when he spoke his
You know the idealthe beautiful thingthe love I seek.
Side by side they sat, each bosom throbbing; not with the wild
passion of youth, but with the deeper, more spiritual love of
middle-life. Overhead, the night wind murmured; all about, the crickets
Turning, she met him face to face, frankly, earnestly.
Let us think.
She rose, in her eyes the look men worship and, worshipping, find
A moment they stood together.
Good-night, she whispered.
Good-night, his lips silently answered, pressing upon hers.