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Good evening. It's about the beginning of a simplified version of White Fang by J. London.

1) was : Is 'there was' also possible?
2) across country: What about 'across the country'?
3) was going fast: Said of light, does it refer to its fading?

Thank you.

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You could say, "There was," but it isn't really connected to this particular sentence. This sentence is an example of inverted word order. The sentence is not written the way most sentences in English are, though it isn't weird.

And a long narrow box was on the sled. We would not want to add "there" to this sentence.

London wrote the sentence as he did for sentence variety and maybe for some emphasis he had in mind.

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slocawber2) across country: What about 'across the country'?

No. "Across country" means not using roads or paths.

slocawber3) was going fast: Said of light, does it refer to its fading?

Yes. That is an infrequent meaning of "go".

"18.a. To become weak; fail: His hearing has started to go." (AHD)

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slocawber1) was : Is 'there was' also possible?

Yes. "on the sled there was ..." is also grammatical.

A box was on the sled. (normal word order)
On the sled was a box. (locative inversion)
On the sled there was a box. (locative inversion with there-insertion)

slocawber2) across country: What about 'across the country'?

"across country" ~ through unpopulated areas
"across the country" ~ from one side of the nation to the other

slocawber3) was going fast: Said of light, does it refer to its fading?

Yes.

CJ

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