|In the final chapters of E.
classic 1945 children's novel, Stuart Little,
Stuart (who is a
sets off in search of his missing friend, a bird named
tells someone he meets in Ames Crossing: "The highways
and byways are
you'll find me, always looking for Margalo.
Sometimes I feel that
I'm quite near to her and that she's just around the
turn in the
Other times I feel that I'll never find her and never
hear her voice
[North, indeed, is a
the best--, but this passage is really about the
importance of having a
directed life, an openness to the wonders of the
world, and--in spite
the evidence--a certain optimism.]
At the end of the book,
a telephone company repairmen:
"Which direction are you
"North," said Stuart.
"North is nice," said the
"I've always enjoyed going north. Of course,
south-west is a fine
"Yes, I suppose it is,"
"And there's east,"
"I once had an interesting experience on an easterly
want me to tell you about it?"
"No thanks," said Stuart.
The repairman seemed
he kept right on talking. "There's something
about north," he
"something that sets it apart from all other
directions. A person
who is heading north is not making any mistake, in
"That's the way I look at
"I rather expect that from now on I shall be
traveling north until the
end of my days."
"Worse things than that
a person," said the repairman.
"Yes, I know," answered
"Following a broken
I have come upon some wonderful places," continued
"Swamps where cedars grow and turtles wait on logs
but not for anything
in particular; fields bordered by crooked fences
broken by years of
still; orchards so old they have forgotten where the
In the north I have eaten my lunch in pastures rank
with ferns and
all under fair skies with a wind blowing. My
business has taken
into spruce woods on winter nights where the snow
lay deep and soft, a
perfect place for a carnival of rabbits. I
have sat at peace on
freight platforms of railroad junctions in the
north, in the warm hours
and with the warm smells. I know fresh lakes
in the north,
except by fish and hawk and, of course, by the
Telephone Company, which
has to follow its nose. I know all these
places well. They
are a long way from here--don't forget that.
And a person who is
looking for something doesn't travel very fast."
"That's perfectly true,"
"Well, I guess I'd better get going. Thank you
for your friendly
"Not at all," said the
"I hope you find that bird."
Stuart rose from the ditch,
his car, and started up the road that led toward the
was just coming up over the hills on his
right. As he peered
into the great land that stretched before him, the
But the sky was bright, and somehow he felt he was
headed in the right