“William Weigland took a hurried look at the sketch map, decided to chance it, and swung left off Route 22 on a narrow macadam road. He drove a few hundred yards and pulled the Buick to the side of the road. He stared at the map and admitted to himself that it had him.”
So begins Murder Out Of Turn, the second of the Mr. & Mrs. North mysteries by Frances and Richard Lockridge, a book I have just begun to read again. No doubt I am making too big a deal of it, but I am taken with that final phrase, that it had him. It is such a mature reaction to setbacks.
He does not blame the mapmaker. He does not blame the world for not agreeing with the map. He does not curse. He does not give up. He does not blindly charge ahead. Instead this police detective calmly and with a sense of humor recognizes his pitiable situation and accepts it — but without giving in. Our hero questions the sketchy map, wonders what the woman who drew it was thinking, makes guesses, and acts on them. He gets out of his car and tries to match his location with the map in his hand. He climbs up a hill to get a better view. There, he sees a church, the landmark he had been seeking. In spite of the map’s failings, he now knows how to get where he is going.
I find this even-handed acceptance of one’s situation charming. I admire it when I find it in others. I wonder that I so seldom find it in myself.
On an allegorical level, probably unintended by the authors, our hero finds his way after catching sight of a church, which could be a metaphor for him re-orienting his life to God, the lesson being that we cannot understand our situation, find our place in the world, until we align our coordinates to God. Now you know I am making too much of this passage!