The siege continues for four more days, as the two sides fire their artillery back and forth. Heyward, on a post near the edge of the fort, looks out on the morning of the fifth day, seeing the French taking a respite from their firing, as the British do the same. He is soon joined on the ramparts by Cora and Alice, and the two mock him, gently, for spending too much time fighting the war, and not enough time socializing with them within the fort.
Cora and Alice, though part of the siege, do not fight as soldiers do, although they help their father and tend to the other business of the place, which itself is as a small city tucked away at the south end of Lake George. But Cora and Alice also reserve a certain amount of goodwill for jesting with Heyward, whom they consider to be noble if a little formal at times.
Alice and Cora then thank Heyward, in seriousness, for his efforts in saving them thus far, and Cora goes on to say that she worries about her father Munro’s health and reputation should he French defeat the English in the siege and take over Fort William Henry. The group wonders if Webb will send reinforcements to Fort William Henry from Fort Edward, although it appears less and less likely with each passing day. Heyward thanks Alice and Cora for their visit, but says he must meet with Munro to decide on strategy for the remainder of the siege.
In this section of the novel, the moment of greatest dramatic tension arrives when Webb reports he will not be sending reinforcements to help the inhabitants of Fort William Henry. It is at this point that Munro is “abandoned” by his own army, and this forces the handing-over of the fort to Montcalm, the massacre, and Magua’s final capture of Alice and Cora.
Munro meets with Heyward, telling him that Hawkeye has passed through enemy lines and been released by Montcalm back into the English fort, with news from Webb that, in fact, no reinforcements will be sent to Fort William Henry. Munro states that the fort has very few options, and that Montcalm has requested that Munro speak with him outside the fort, in the French camp. Munro asks Heyward whether Heyward would mind meeting with Montcalm first, and Heyward replies that it would be his honor. Heyward passes out of the fort, under a sign of temporary truce, and meets with Montcalm, surrounded by French soldiers, in the nearby French line—he is greeted courteously by Montcalm, who prides himself on his “noble” carriage in battle.
Another instance of “nobility” in one’s dealings with the enemy. The alliances of the French and Indian War were interesting ones, since, on the one hand, both the English and French had native allies, but on the other, the French and English considers themselves to be more similar, through a shared European culture, than they were to the natives with whom they were ostensibly friends. This confusion of alliance and “affinity,” or cultural heritage, will cut through the conflicts throughout the novel.
Montcalm welcomes Heyward, and Heyward rapidly realizes that Montcalm expects Heyward, as Munro’s emissary, to sue for peace and give up the fort to the French. But Heyward, too proud to do this, and also not having Munro’s approval to surrender, hears Montcalm’s subtle bragging about the strength of his own forces, and the inferiority of the English ones, and then, politely, requests leave to carry Montcalm’s message back to the English lines. Heyward realizes that the only way the English will be able to negotiate with Montcalm is if they surrender, completely, to his forces. Otherwise, they will have to continue to fight and see if they can improve the terms of the peace.
Montcalm, for his part, is somewhat offended that Munro himself did not come to ask for a stop in the siege. Montcalm, though a “gentleman” in Fenimore Cooper’s description, is all-too-willing to sacrifice his gentlemanly rules of conduct when that suits him. For example, both Hawkeye and the narrator critique Montcalm for failing to do enough to stop the native massacre of non-combatants following the handover of Fort William Henry.