[EXTERIOR FRENCH LINES - MUNRO, HEYWARD, BEAMS - DAY
The drums are from Munro's honor guard. They stop.
REVERSE: FRENCH SOLDIERS
Marquis de Montcalm, immaculate, backed by his guard of honor in white, grey and medium blue with six foot by eight foot regimental colors and the French flag (gold fleur-de-lis on a field of blue).
They carried two hundred and forty-five bateaux across a ten mile portage, all their supplies and artillery, and then rowed down the length of Lake George to get here. To them, assaulting this fort is the easy part. The drummers of the honor guard play a tattoo behind them.
Huron, Ottawa, Osage, Choctaw, Fox ... hear the drum of the honor guard and wait. They're in war paint. Many tattoos. Split ears. The Osage scalping locks are hennaed red. Canadiens among them are bearded, dirty, half savage ... At their head ...
in full war paint, with a coterie of Huron warriors, silent, waiting. Drums.
INTERIOR FORT - ENGLISH TROOPS (TABLEAUX)
grim, silent, watchful.
COLONIAL MILITIA & MOHAWK INDIANS IN WAR PAINT (TABLEAUX)
watching the parlay from a blown apart battery. Silent.
WIDE: FRENCH & ENGLISH
and their honor guards. Montcalm steps forward and sweeps his plumed hat to the ground in a courtly bow. Munro bows coldly.]
MONTCALM: Colonel Munro, I have known you as a gallant antagonist. I am happy to make your acquaintance as a friend.
MUNRO: And I to make yours, Monsieur le Marquis.
MONTCALM: Please accept my compliments for the strong and skillful defense of your fortress. Under the command of a lesser man it would have fallen long ago given the superior numbers and material ... mere chance has allowed me to array against you ...
MUNRO: Monsieur le Marquis, I am a soldier, not a diplomat. You called this parlay for a reason.
MONTCALM: You have already done everything which is necessary for the honor of your Prince. I will forever bear testimony that your resistance has been gallant and was continued as long as there was hope. But now, I beg you to listen to the admonitions of humanity. I beg you to consider my terms for your surrender.
MUNRO: However I may apprise such testimony from Monsieur Montcalm, Fort William Henry is strong and stands.
MONTCALM: Honor that is freely accorded to courage, may be refused obstinacy ... These hills afford to us every opportunity to reconnoiter your works and I am possibly as well acquainted with your weak condition as you are yourselves.
[Is Webb really en route and Montcalm hopes to take the fort by duplicity before British reinforcements arrive?]
MUNRO: Perhaps the General's glasses can reach to the Hudson and he knows the size and imminence of the army of Webb ...?
[Montcalm takes a moment to reply and appears genuinely sympathetic to Munro.]
MONTCALM: [quietly] My scouts intercepted this dispatch intended for you.
[Munro is puzzled, suspicious.]
MONTCALM: [to Bougainville] Read the dispatch.
[HEYWARD & MUNRO]
BOUGAINVILLE: [O.S. - reading] "Colonel Munro - Fort William Henry. I have no men available to send to your rescue. It is impossible. I advise you to seek terms for surrender. Signed Webb."
[Munro is rocked, as if struck by a blow. Bougainville hands Heyward the letter.]
HEYWARD: [confirming] This is the signature of Webb. [to Munro] And I know the temper of our men. Rather than spend the war in a French prison hulk in Hudson Bay, they'd fight to the end.
MUNRO: [to Montcalm] You have heard your answer, Monsieur le Marquis. [salutes]
[Munro starts off. Montcalm stops him.]
MONTCALM: Sir. [challengingly] I am incapable of mistreating brave men. I beg you not to sign the death warrant of so many until you have listened to my terms.
MUNRO: Such as ...?
MONTCALM: My master requires the fort be destroyed. But, for you and your comrades, there is no privilege that will be denied. None of your men will see the inside of a prison barge. They're free to go so long as they return to England and fight no more on this continent, and the civilian militia return to their farms.
MUNRO: Their arms?
MONTCALM: They may leave the fortress fully armed, but with no ammunition ... Other than that, ask what you wish.
[Munro's impressed with Montcalm's generosity.]
MUNRO: The honors of war?
MUNRO: My colors?
MONTCALM: Carry them to England to your King with pride.
MUNRO: Allow me to consult with my officers.
[As he turns away something's been disconnected inside Munro that can never get put back together. As the men move away from the French ...]
MUNRO: I have lived to see two things I never expected. An Englishman afraid to support a friend. And a Frenchman too honest to profit by that advantage.
HEYWARD: General Webb can burn in hell. We'll go back and dig our graves behind the ramparts! Our mission is to fight.
MUNRO: [flares] Death and honor are sometimes thought to be the same. Today I have learned that they are not.
[Munro looks at the fortress behind him.]
MUNRO: [stops him with his eyes] The decision is final.
[A beat. Then Munro turns toward Montcalm. Their eyes meet across the churned, scarred earth of the battlefield.]
MUNRO: I am deeply touched by such unusual and unexpected generosity ... The fort is yours under the condition that we be given until dawn to bury our dead, prepare our men and women for their march and turn our wounded over to your surgeon.
MONTCALM: Granted, Monsieur.
[And Montcalm bows deeply and as he does so ...
CUT TO ...]