Cam led the old man aside, doing his best not to wrinkle his nose at the stench or stare at the tattered shirt and furs that passed for his clothing.

“How long have you been out here? It’s 200 kilometers to the nearest settlement.”

“Was a part of the Church of Peace,” the old man said in a voice creaking but understandable. “Moved up north to Alaska to get away from the violence and practice our ways. During the war, when I heard there’d be forced conscription, I took to the wilderness with my wife.”

“The war? Which war?”

“The great war, with the Kaiser,” said the old man. “A people what never done anything to harm us, and there was a chance we’d have to betray our sacred vows to the Lord. Lived up here ever since.”

Cam took a step backwards, supporting himself on one of the great pine trees. If the old man was telling the truth, he’d been living along in the taiga for over fifty years. “You don’t even know that you’ve crossed the border?”

“Reckoned I might have, but the Canadians was conscriptin’ too so I figured it didn’t much matter.” A sigh. “My wife’d often say she thought we were movin’ toward the Canada aide before she died.”

“Hey, what’s the holdup?” Jeanette from Cam’s crew called from behind him.

Cam waved her off with a curt gesture. “That’s a long time to be alone,” he said.

“Alone? No, I ain’t alone. I got the Lord, son. The lord and six children.”

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