The moon was getting low and ragged pine branches cut against the light. The track was wrapped in shadow that was only a little less dense than the gloom of the surrounding bush. It was not really cold for North Ontario, but the fur coat was hardly enough protection to make a bed in the open air comfortable. Foster had slept in the Athabasca forests when the thermometer marked forty degrees below zero, but he then wore different clothes and had been able to make a roaring fire and build a snow-bank between him and the wind. Moreover, he was still liable to be overtaken by the men on the train.
Getting up, he found his knee sore and stiff, but limped on for an hour or two after the moon sank. He seemed to be stumbling along the bottom of a dark trench, for the firs shut him in like a wall and there was only an elusive glimmer of light above their serrated tops. He did not expect to find a house until he reached the station, for much of North Ontario is a wilderness where the trees are too small for milling and agriculture is impossible among the rocks. To make things worse, he felt hungry. The train had stopped at about seven o’clock at a desolate station where the passengers were given a few minutes to get supper, but Foster’s portion was too hot for him to eat. He tried to encourage himself by remembering that he had once marched three hundred miles across the snow with a badly frozen foot, but this did not make his present exertion easier.
As he got hungry he got angry. He had gone away to enjoy himself, and this was how his holiday had begun! The Government agent, if that was what he was, ought not to have dragged a confiding stranger into his difficulties. He was now safe in the express car and chuckling over the troubles he had left his substitute to face. Then Foster tried to remember if he had left any papers with his address in his overcoat and decided that he had not done so. His wallet was now in his jacket pocket. This was satisfactory, because he meant to have nothing more to do with the matter. Tying the fur coat round his waist to take some of the weight off his shoulders, he trudged on as briskly as he could through the gloom.
After walking for some time, Foster heard a rumble in the distance behind him and climbed the rocky bank of the single-line track. There was not much room between the bank and rails, and he was glad of an excuse for sitting down. Taking out the stranger’s case, he lighted another of the Turkish cigarettes. They were the only benefit he was likely to derive from the adventure, and he felt some satisfaction in making use of them.