Chapter 16 Summary
After returning to Fort William Henry, Heyward immediately goes to Munro to deliver the message from the French leader, Montcalm. When Heyward walks into Munro's office, he finds Cora and Alice there. Alice is sitting on her father's lap, playing with the old man's hair. Alice appears embarrassed at having been caught in this childlike position and jumps up to a more mature position in front of Heyward. Munro then dismisses his daughters to Heyward in private.
While Heyward waits patiently to deliver the message from Montcalm, Munro seems to want to talk of more trivial things. Eventually Munro teases Heyward, suggesting that he thinks Heyward might make a good son. Heyward agrees and lets Munro know that he indeed would like to marry one of Munro's daughters.
When Heyward announces that he would like for Alice to become his wife, Munro unexpectedly becomes perturbed. He is surprised and somewhat offended that Heyward does not ask to marry the elder daughter, Cora.
Thinking that Heyward might be prejudiced against Cora's darker complexion, Munro explains that he was working in the West Indies when he met his first wife, who was, Munro would later find out, of mixed African and European blood. This explains Cora's darker coloring. Alice, on the other hand, is light haired with a fair complexion. Alice's mother was Munro's second wife, who died upon giving birth to Alice.
The conversation about his daughters is dropped abruptly as Munro changes his focus from that of father to that of soldier. He asks Heyward for Montcalm's message. Upon hearing that Montcalm wants to meet with him in person, Munro tells Heyward to arrange for a quick departure to meet Montcalm.
After confronting Montcalm, Munro remains defiant, stating that there is no need for him to surrender as reinforcements are on their way. The British-Americans will defeat the French, Munro declares.
At this, Montcalm hands Webb's letter over to Munro. After reading the letter, Munro bows his head. Webb has written that he cannot afford to send even one soldier to help Munro defend the fort. After Munro finishes reading the letter, Webb suggests that Munro surrender the fort to the French.
Before Munro leaves this meeting, Montcalm implores him to hear the terms that he is willing to offer. Munro reluctantly gives in and waits to hear what Montcalm has to say. Montcalm is willing to end the battle as soon as Munro signs the papers to surrender. In exchange for this act, Montcalm will allow Munro and his troops to march freely away from the fort with their guns, all their possessions, and the British flag. No harm will come to anyone.
At the end of this chapter Munro declares that he never thought he would live to see a British ally turn against him and a Frenchman treat him with such honor. The narrator states that Munro was never to overcome his depression concerning this forced surrender, which was to lead eventually to his death.