Having been killed during the Sunday morning re-enactment of the Battle of Hubbardton, I get to my feet after the surrender of the American forces to accept my share of applause. Hundreds of spectators watch us march off the field, and the voice of an announcer can be heard through a single crackling speaker: “Take a walk through the camps; talk to these guys, every one of them is a walking history lesson!” As we troop away, past a large and immaculate British colonel (“Well done, lads!”), Najecki asks me if I’ve learned anything. I tell him that it seems like the more seriously you take it, the more fun re-enacting is.
“That’s it,” he says. “Like anything in life.”
Back at the old bivouac, however, things are going awry. The CSM, in preparation for their long convoy ride back to Canada, are breaking down their camp at high speed, and some of them have pulled their cars around next to their tents. Modernity has not been entirely out of mind during the weekend (a rank of Port-o-Potties, for example, was visible from our camp), but the presence of these rhino-like SUVs so close to the campfire is jarring. The spell is broken: the delicate muse of re-enactment, it seems, has vanished into the woods of Vermont. Various members of the 40th now begin extravagant throat-clearings in which the word “farb!” is distinctly audible. Corporal Hobbs frowns intensely: “This is so out of line . . . especially for these guys.”
His displeasure is noted, and when the CSM camp is all packed up and a young man — formerly one of the most flamboyantly accoutered of the Canadian officers — is standing by the defunct fire-pit in his shorts and Skinny Puppy T-shirt, Hobbs is duly approached by Captain Cameron. “Men of the 40th,” announces Cameron. “I owe you an apology. We got permission for the cars to enter this field, but I didn’t consider what the impact would be on you and your experience here. It was thoughtless of me, and I’m sorry.” There is dignity, nobility even, in his contrition. The air conditioners are already humming in the gathered vehicles. Cameron raises his arm in farewell.
“See you at Fort Ti.”
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