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LAKE GEORGE & FORT WILLIAM HENRY ... Duncan's Rejection by Cora & Colonials' Debate With Munro


Note: Interestingly, these two scenes were reversed when the film was finally put together.

[INTERIOR MUNRO'S BEDCHAMBER - DOOR - NIGHT

a knock and Heyward enters.

CORA & ALICE

Alice is in her father's bed. Cora is collecting and tearing linen into strips for bandaging.]

HEYWARD: Cora ... I wanted to talk to you, but I'll come back another time ...

[Alice looks at the two of them and rises out of the bed.]

CORA: Alice ...

ALICE: Talk to Duncan, Cora ... I must manage ... I cannot be an invalid schoolgirl. [starts for door] I'll see if Mr. Phelps needs anything ...

[She leaves.]

HEYWARD: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to ...

CORA: Her nerves are shattered. She's trying to be brave.

[There's a lot going on under Cora's surface. We don't know what it is, but it's disconcerting.]

HEYWARD: Cora, I adore you and, when we come together, we will be the happiest couple in England ... I am certain of that. More than ever before. [softens] I believe you must trust the judgment of others who hold your welfare so close to their hearts ...

CORA: Duncan ... [pause] Duncan, I promised you an answer. You have complimented me with your persistence and patience ... But the decision I've come to is I'd rather make the gravest of mistakes than surrender my own judgment.

[Heyward is stunned.]

CORA: And it's been unfair to you, while I search myself for feelings, which, if they were there and as strong as they ought to be, would've made themselves known long ago ... [pause] Take my admiration and friendship, Duncan. And please take this as my final answer. It must be no.

[Heyward' shattered inside.]

HEYWARD: I see ...

CORA: I am sorry, Duncan ...

[Heyward nods. He's speechless. He's errect as he leaves the room.

CLOSE: CORA

The tension rushes out of her and she shudders and leans against the quarter-timbered walls for support. Then she collects the linen and starts out.

CUT TO

INTERIOR FORT, INNER CORRIDOR - CORA

moving through the corridor past wounded. Two French mortar bombs explode above one of the casements. We hear shrill screams in the distance and ... ]

HAWKEYE (O.S.): ... it was no raidin' party out for pillage. The cabin was attacked by a war party. They are sweeping south down the frontier spreading terror among farms and Mohawk villages 'cos all the men are here.

IAN (O.S.): And my cabin's not thirteen miles south of Cameron's!

[Cora, passing the open door to Munro's crowded office, now hesitates.

CORA'S POV: THE ROOM

Hawkeye, Captain Jack Winthrop, Ian, seven or eight other militia spokesmen, Munro, Heyward, two adjutants, one lieutenant of Rangers.]

MUNRO: [to Jack] I must receive proof more conclusive than Mr. Poe's opinion before I weaken our defenses by allowing militia to withdraw.

JACK: Chingachgook's of the same opinion. Taken together, that's gospel. Your fort will stand or fall depending on Webb and reinforcements, not these colonials' presence.

MUNRO: I judge military matters, Captain Winthrop, not you.

HAWKEYE: That judgment is not more important than their right under agreement with Webb to defend their farms & families ... Major Heyward was at John Cameron's. He saw what it was.

MUNRO: [looking to Heyward for confirmation of his point of view.] What did you see, Major?

[Heyward looks around the room. And he catches the doorway ...

CORA

beyond the periphery of men, staring at him.

HEYWARD

Munro is expecting him to be the good soldier in defense of British military interests. At the same time ...

CORA

examines him with a cool, level stare.

HEYWARD

looks at Munro. More French rounds detonate O.S. What if Webb gets here and they need to launch a counter-attack? They need every man they have. It's his moment of decision ... ]

HEYWARD: [to Munro] I saw nothing that would lead me to the conclusion it was other than a raid by savages bent on thievery.

[Jack Winthrop grabs Nathaniel.]

HAWKEYE: You're a liar!

[CORA'S

saddened. Heyward's stature has fallen irrevocably in her eyes.

HEYWARD

can't help it. He turns to look at Cora ...

HEYWARD'S POV: DOORWAY

She's gone.

HEYWARD

suffused with an inner sadness, turns to Hawkeye.]

HAWKEYE: And the blood is on your hands!

[Heyward reaches for his sword.]

MUNRO: [to Heyward] I'll have none of that! [to coloniels] Montcalm is a soldier and a gentleman. Not a butcher.

HAWKEYE: Easy for you to suppose. While it is their women & children, not yours, alone in their farms!

MUNRO: [exploding] You forget yourself!

JACK: We are not forgettin' Webb's promise!

MUNRO: British promises are honored. And the militia will not be released. Because I need more definite proof than this man's word!

JACK: Nathaniel's word been good on the frontier a long time before you got here!

MUNRO: This interview's over! The militia stays!

JACK: [to Munro] Does the rule of English law no longer govern? Has it been replaced by absolutism?

[This is very dangerous talk.]

HAWKEYE: And if English law cannot be trusted, maybe these people would do better makin' a peace with the French!

HEYWARD: That is sedition! Treason!

HAWKEYE: That is the truth!

HEYWARD: [restaining himself] I ought to have you whipped from this fort!

HAWKEYE: Major! [changes down] Some day I think you & I are gonna have a serious disagreement.

MUNRO: [steel] Anyone fomenting or advocating leaving Fort William Henry will be hung for sedition. Anyone leaving will be shot for desertion. [pause] My decision is final. Get out.

[Hawkeye and the others are not intimidated. Their rage smolders. The look on Hawkeye's face says this is not over.

CUT TO ... ]

LAKE GEORGE & FORT WILLIAM HENRY ... Desertion & The Kiss

 


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