Two tired people, weighed down by heavy bales and rifles, limp down to the river. One of the men regrets that they do not have two cartridges hidden in a hiding place. Having entered the first traveler into cold water, the second slipped on a smooth boulder and nearly fell. He tried to go on, but again staggered. The first traveler did not look back. The second called him by his name, shouted that he dislocated his leg. Bill (the first traveler) did not react to this in any way: he continued silently to go forward until he got to the other side. The second traveler tried once again to attract the attention of his comrade, but to no avail: Bill never turned around and soon disappeared behind the horizon formed by the crest of a low hill.
The man in the middle of the river looked at his watch. There were four, and the sun, lowered to the horizon, dimly shone through the fog. The traveler did not know exactly what was now the end of July or the beginning of August, as he had lost his calendar account in the last two weeks. He glanced to the south, where the Great Bear Lake lay behind the hills and lay the terrible path of the Arctic Circle. The tributary of the Coppermine River, in which it now stood, flowed towards the Arctic Ocean. With fear in his eyes, the man tried again to call Bill, then crouched down and dropped the gun into the water. The splash caused him to come to his senses. He arranged a bale on his shoulders and, overcoming the pain, went to the shore.
Thinking about this, the traveler struggled to get ahead. The only thing that did not let him surrender was the thought that Bill had not left him. The man, who had not eaten for two days, mentally looked over the reserves in his cache and vainly tried to get saturated with watery marsh berries. At nine o’clock he bruised his big toe and fell from weakness. After a bit of rest, the traveler got up, made a bonfire, unpacked the bale, counted the matches three times (in order not to be mistaken) and, having divided them into three piles, hid them in three different places. Near the fire, he dried wet shoes, bandaged his tucked ankle, drank boiling water and fell asleep like a dead man.
At six in the morning the man woke up from hunger. He saw a big deer next to him, but he could not kill him, since the gun was not loaded. After tying his bale in the way, the traveler checked the matches and figured out if he could hide a bag of gold weighing as much as all the rest of the equipment. Deciding not to give up money, he started off. The turned leg and hungry stomach ached every hour stronger and stronger. Stumbling in a small hollow on the white partridges, the traveler tried to knock them down with a stone and catch with his hands, but he did not succeed. In the afternoon he reached the bolt, where the game was larger, but he did not have enough strength even to frighten a fox, carrying a partridge in his teeth. In the evening the traveler tried to get enough bulbs of reeds, searched in the frogs’ lakes, dug the earth, in the hope of finding worms. Noticing one of the puddles of a small fish, he long caught her, all wet, then decided to scoop up water, but the prey for this time slipped through the crevasse into another puddle, which could not be scooped out and for a day. In desperation, the man sat down and cried. He spent the night hungry.
In the morning, snow fell. Moss damp. The fire went out. The man set off, and all day his thoughts were only about food. At night he slept without a fire and boiling water under a cold rain. The next morning his head cleared slightly. He again began to think about the Land of Little Sticks, wrapped up his bleached feet with the remnants of one of the blankets, but he did not dare to part with the gold.
The next day the traveler spent in a fainting state. The pain in the stomach was dulled, but he forced himself to catch minnows (two – in the afternoon and three – in the evening) and eat them alive. On that day he passed ten miles, the next – only five. The area gradually began to change. More and more wolves appeared among the animals.
The next morning the traveler parted with half the gold, hiding the part in the ledge of the rock. The day was foggy. The man walked, stumbling and falling from hunger. Falling into a partridge’s nest, he ate up newly hatched chicks alive. In pursuit of their mother, he spent the whole day and did not stop, even when he saw Bill’s footprints in a marshy lowland.
The next day the traveler finally said goodbye to the gold, no longer hiding it, but simply pouring it to the ground. He was obsessed with obsessive thoughts about a loaded gun. Stumbling upon a large drill bear, he tried to kill him with a hunting knife, but in time realized how weak. When the animal, which decided not to contact the strange bipedal creature, disappeared, the man went on his way. Now he began to be afraid to die not by hunger, but by violent death. Towards evening the traveler came upon the deer’s bones gnawed by wolves and ate them, grinding them into porridge. Remains of the bones he took with him.
How long the man moved on, he did not remember. One day he came to himself, lying on a flat stone in the bright sun. At the bottom, the traveler saw a wide river flowing into the sea with an anchored ship. Next to him he found a sick wolf. Drinking boiling water, the hero from the last forces wandered to the ship. The wolf followed. The next day, a man came across traces of a man crawling on all fours, and then on the gnawed bones and a familiar pouch of gold.
A few days later the traveler himself went down on all fours. He wiped his knees in the blood. The sick wolf licked the bloody trace with pleasure.
When the ship was only four miles away, the man began to fall into oblivion. He saved strength for the last fight and several times pretended to be dead before he could kill the wolf and nourish the stomach with the warm blood of the animal.
Wrong as a worm man picked up scientists from the whaler “Bedford”. All the way to San Francisco, the man ate, begged for biscuit from the sailors and hid them in his bunk.