4. CHAPTER IV - THE TRAIL OF THE GODS
The coming of daylight dispelled his fears but increased his
loneliness. The naked earth, which so shortly before had been so
populous; thrust his loneliness more forcibly upon him. It did not
take him long to make up his mind. He plunged into the forest and
followed the river bank down the stream. All day he ran. He did
not rest. He seemed made to run on for ever. His iron-like body
ignored fatigue. And even after fatigue came, his heritage of
endurance braced him to endless endeavour and enabled him to drive
his complaining body onward.
Where the river swung in against precipitous bluffs, he climbed the
high mountains behind. Rivers and streams that entered the main
river he forded or swam. Often he took to the rim-ice that was
beginning to form, and more than once he crashed through and
struggled for life in the icy current. Always he was on the
lookout for the trail of the gods where it might leave the river
and proceed inland.
White Fang was intelligent beyond the average of his kind; yet his
mental vision was not wide enough to embrace the other bank of the
Mackenzie. What if the trail of the gods led out on that side? It
never entered his head. Later on, when he had travelled more and
grown older and wiser and come to know more of trails and rivers,
it might be that he could grasp and apprehend such a possibility.
But that mental power was yet in the future. Just now he ran
blindly, his own bank of the Mackenzie alone entering into his
All night he ran, blundering in the darkness into mishaps and
obstacles that delayed but did not daunt. By the middle of the
second day he had been running continuously for thirty hours, and
the iron of his flesh was giving out. It was the endurance of his
mind that kept him going. He had not eaten in forty hours, and he
was weak with hunger. The repeated drenchings in the icy water had
likewise had their effect on him. His handsome coat was draggled.
The broad pads of his feet were bruised and bleeding. He had begun
to limp, and this limp increased with the hours. To make it worse,
the light of the sky was obscured and snow began to fall - a raw,
moist, melting, clinging snow, slippery under foot, that hid from
him the landscape he traversed, and that covered over the
inequalities of the ground so that the way of his feet was more
difficult and painful.