The Last of the Mohicans
James Fenimore Cooper
Part 5 out of 9
the scout, gladly encouraged this idea.
"Without doubt, he could gather no confidence by witnessing
our indifference," he said.
"You never said truer word. I could wish, sir, that he
would visit the works in open day, and in the form of a
storming party; that is the least failing method of proving
the countenance of an enemy, and would be far preferable to
the battering system he has chosen. The beauty and
manliness of warfare has been much deformed, Major Heyward,
by the arts of your Monsieur Vauban. Our ancestors were far
above such scientific cowardice!"
"It may be very true, sir; but we are now obliged to repel
art by art. What is your pleasure in the matter of the
"I will meet the Frenchman, and that without fear or delay;
promptly, sir, as becomes a servant of my royal master. Go,
Major Heyward, and give them a flourish of the music; and
send out a messenger to let them know who is coming. We
will follow with a small guard, for such respect is due to
one who holds the honor of his king in keeping; and hark'ee,
Duncan," he added, in a half whisper, though they were
alone, "it may be prudent to have some aid at hand, in case
there should be treachery at the bottom of it all."
The young man availed himself of this order to quit the
apartment; and, as the day was fast coming to a close, he
hastened without delay, to make the necessary arrangements.
A very few minutes only were necessary to parade a few
files, and to dispatch an orderly with a flag to announce
the approach of the commandant of the fort. When Duncan had
done both these, he led the guard to the sally-port, near
which he found his superior ready, waiting his appearance.
As soon as the usual ceremonials of a military departure
were observed, the veteran and his more youthful companion
left the fortress, attended by the escort.
They had proceeded only a hundred yards from the works, when
the little array which attended the French general to the
conference was seen issuing from the hollow way which formed
the bed of a brook that ran between the batteries of the
besiegers and the fort. From the moment that Munro left his
own works to appear in front of his enemy's, his air had
been grand, and his step and countenance highly military.
The instant he caught a glimpse of the white plume that
waved in the hat of Montcalm, his eye lighted, and age no
longer appeared to possess any influence over his vast and
still muscular person.
"Speak to the boys to be watchful, sir," he said, in an
undertone, to Duncan; "and to look well to their flints and
steel, for one is never safe with a servant of these
Louis's; at the same time, we shall show them the front of
men in deep security. Ye'll understand me, Major Heyward!"
He was interrupted by the clamor of a drum from the
approaching Frenchmen, which was immediately answered, when
each party pushed an orderly in advance, bearing a white
flag, and the wary Scotsman halted with his guard close at
his back. As soon as this slight salutation had passed,
Montcalm moved toward them with a quick but graceful step,
baring his head to the veteran, and dropping his spotless
plume nearly to the earth in courtesy. If the air of Munro
was more commanding and manly, it wanted both the ease and
insinuating polish of that of the Frenchman. Neither spoke
for a few moments, each regarding the other with curious and
interested eyes. Then, as became his superior rank and the
nature of the interview, Montcalm broke the silence. After
uttering the usual words of greeting, he turned to Duncan,
and continued, with a smile of recognition, speaking always
"I am rejoiced, monsieur, that you have given us the
pleasure of your company on this occasion. There will be no
necessity to employ an ordinary interpreter; for, in your
hands, I feel the same security as if I spoke your language
Duncan acknowledged the compliment, when Montcalm, turning
to his guard, which in imitation of that of their enemies,
pressed close upon him, continued:
"En arriere, mes enfants -- il fait chaud ---retirez-vous un
Before Major Heyward would imitate this proof of confidence,
he glanced his eyes around the plain, and beheld with
uneasiness the numerous dusky groups of savages, who looked
out from the margin of the surrounding woods, curious
spectators of the interview.
"Monsieur de Montcalm will readily acknowledge the
difference in our situation," he said, with some
embarrassment, pointing at the same time toward those
dangerous foes, who were to be seen in almost every
direction. "were we to dismiss our guard, we should stand
here at the mercy of our enemies."
"Monsieur, you have the plighted faith of 'un gentilhomme
Francais', for your safety," returned Montcalm, laying his
hand impressively on his heart; "it should suffice."
"It shall. Fall back," Duncan added to the officer who led
the escort; "fall back, sir, beyond hearing, and wait for
Munro witnessed this movement with manifest uneasiness; nor
did he fail to demand an instant explanation.
"Is it not our interest, sir, to betray distrust?" retorted
Duncan. "Monsieur de Montcalm pledges his word for our
safety, and I have ordered the men to withdraw a little, in
order to prove how much we depend on his assurance."
"It may be all right, sir, but I have no overweening
reliance on the faith of these marquesses, or marquis, as
they call themselves. Their patents of nobility are too
common to be certain that they bear the seal of true honor."
"You forget, dear sir, that we confer with an officer,
distinguished alike in Europe and America for his deeds.
From a soldier of his reputation we can have nothing to
The old man made a gesture of resignation, though his rigid
features still betrayed his obstinate adherence to a
distrust, which he derived from a sort of hereditary
contempt of his enemy, rather than from any present signs
which might warrant so uncharitable a feeling. Montcalm
waited patiently until this little dialogue in demi-voice
was ended, when he drew nigher, and opened the subject of
"I have solicited this interview from your superior,
monsieur," he said, "because I believe he will allow himself
to be persuaded that he has already done everything which is
necessary for the honor of his prince, and will now listen
to the admonitions of humanity. I will forever bear
testimony that his resistance has been gallant, and was
continued as long as there was hope."
When this opening was translated to Munro, he answered with
dignity, but with sufficient courtesy:
"However I may prize such testimony from Monsieur Montcalm,
it will be more valuable when it shall be better merited."
The French general smiled, as Duncan gave him the purport of
this reply, and observed:
"What is now so freely accorded to approved courage, may be
refused to useless obstinacy. Monsieur would wish to see my
camp, and witness for himself our numbers, and the
impossibility of his resisting them with success?"
"I know that the king of France is well served," returned
the unmoved Scotsman, as soon as Duncan ended his
translation; "but my own royal master has as many and as
"Though not at hand, fortunately for us," said Montcalm,
without waiting, in his ardor, for the interpreter. "There
is a destiny in war, to which a brave man knows how to
submit with the same courage that he faces his foes."
"Had I been conscious that Monsieur Montcalm was master of
the English, I should have spared myself the trouble of so
awkward a translation," said the vexed Duncan, dryly;
remembering instantly his recent by-play with Munro.
"Your pardon, monsieur," rejoined the Frenchman, suffering a
slight color to appear on his dark cheek. "There is a vast
difference between understanding and speaking a foreign
tongue; you will, therefore, please to assist me still."
Then, after a short pause, he added: "These hills afford us
every opportunity of reconnoitering your works, messieurs,
and I am possibly as well acquainted with their weak
condition as you can be yourselves."
"Ask the French general if his glasses can reach to the
Hudson," said Munro, proudly; "and if he knows when and
where to expect the army of Webb."
"Let General Webb be his own interpreter," returned the
politic Montcalm, suddenly extending an open letter toward
Munro as he spoke; "you will there learn, monsieur, that his
movements are not likely to prove embarrassing to my army."
The veteran seized the offered paper, without waiting for
Duncan to translate the speech, and with an eagerness that
betrayed how important he deemed its contents. As his eye
passed hastily over the words, his countenance changed from
its look of military pride to one of deep chagrin; his lip
began to quiver; and suffering the paper to fall from his
hand, his head dropped upon his chest, like that of a man
whose hopes were withered at a single blow. Duncan caught
the letter from the ground, and without apology for the
liberty he took, he read at a glance its cruel purport.
Their common superior, so far from encouraging them to
resist, advised a speedy surrender, urging in the plainest
language, as a reason, the utter impossibility of his
sending a single man to their rescue.
"Here is no deception!" exclaimed Duncan, examining the
billet both inside and out; "this is the signature of Webb,
and must be the captured letter."
"The man has betrayed me!" Munro at length bitterly
exclaimed; "he has brought dishonor to the door of one where
disgrace was never before known to dwell, and shame has he
heaped heavily on my gray hairs."
"Say not so," cried Duncan; "we are yet masters of the fort,
and of our honor. Let us, then, sell our lives at such a
rate as shall make our enemies believe the purchase too
"Boy, I thank thee," exclaimed the old man, rousing himself
from his stupor; "you have, for once, reminded Munro of his
duty. We will go back, and dig our graves behind those
"Messieurs," said Montcalm, advancing toward them a step, in
generous interest, "you little know Louis de St. Veran if
you believe him capable of profiting by this letter to
humble brave men, or to build up a dishonest reputation for
himself. Listen to my terms before you leave me."
"What says the Frenchman?" demanded the veteran, sternly;
"does he make a merit of having captured a scout, with a
note from headquarters? Sir, he had better raise this
siege, to go and sit down before Edward if he wishes to
frighten his enemy with words."
Duncan explained the other's meaning.
"Monsieur de Montcalm, we will hear you," the veteran added,
more calmly, as Duncan ended.
"To retain the fort is now impossible," said his liberal
enemy; "it is necessary to the interests of my master that
it should be destroyed; but as for yourselves and your brave
comrades, there is no privilege dear to a soldier that shall
"Our colors?" demanded Heyward.
"Carry them to England, and show them to your king."
"Keep them; none can use them better."
"Our march; the surrender of the place?"
"Shall all be done in a way most honorable to yourselves."
Duncan now turned to explain these proposals to his
commander, who heard him with amazement, and a sensibility
that was deeply touched by so unusual and unexpected
"Go you, Duncan," he said; "go with this marquess, as,
indeed, marquess he should be; go to his marquee and arrange
it all. I have lived to see two things in my old age that
never did I expect to behold. An Englishman afraid to
support a friend, and a Frenchman too honest to profit by
So saying, the veteran again dropped his head to his chest,
and returned slowly toward the fort, exhibiting, by the
dejection of his air, to the anxious garrison, a harbinger
of evil tidings.
From the shock of this unexpected blow the haughty feelings
of Munro never recovered; but from that moment there
commenced a change in his determined character, which
accompanied him to a speedy grave. Duncan remained to
settle the terms of the capitulation. He was seen to re-
enter the works during the first watches of the night, and
immediately after a private conference with the commandant,
to leave them again. It was then openly announced that
hostilities must cease -- Munro having signed a treaty by
which the place was to be yielded to the enemy, with the
morning; the garrison to retain their arms, the colors and
their baggage, and, consequently, according to military
opinion, their honor.
"Weave we the woof. The thread is spun. The web is wove.
The work is done."--Gray
The hostile armies, which lay in the wilds of the Horican,
passed the night of the ninth of August, 1757, much in the
manner they would, had they encountered on the fairest field
of Europe. While the conquered were still, sullen, and
dejected, the victors triumphed. But there are limits alike
to grief and joy; and long before the watches of the morning
came the stillness of those boundless woods was only broken
by a gay call from some exulting young Frenchman of the
advanced pickets, or a menacing challenge from the fort,
which sternly forbade the approach of any hostile footsteps
before the stipulated moment. Even these occasional
threatening sounds ceased to be heard in that dull hour
which precedes the day, at which period a listener might
have sought in vain any evidence of the presence of those
armed powers that then slumbered on the shores of the "holy
It was during these moments of deep silence that the canvas
which concealed the entrance to a spacious marquee in the
French encampment was shoved aside, and a man issued from
beneath the drapery into the open air. He was enveloped in
a cloak that might have been intended as a protection from
the chilling damps of the woods, but which served equally
well as a mantle to conceal his person. He was permitted to
pass the grenadier, who watched over the slumbers of the
French commander, without interruption, the man making the
usual salute which betokens military deference, as the other
passed swiftly through the little city of tents, in the
direction of William Henry. Whenever this unknown
individual encountered one of the numberless sentinels who
crossed his path, his answer was prompt, and, as it
appeared, satisfactory; for he was uniformly allowed to
proceed without further interrogation.
With the exception of such repeated but brief interruptions,
he had moved silently from the center of the camp to its
most advanced outposts, when he drew nigh the soldier who
held his watch nearest to the works of the enemy. As he
approached he was received with the usual challenge:
"France," was the reply.
"Le mot d'ordre?"
"La victorie," said the other, drawing so nigh as to be
heard in a loud whisper.
"C'est bien," returned the sentinel, throwing his musket
from the charge to his shoulder; "vous promenez bien matin,
"Il est necessaire d'etre vigilant, mon enfant," the other
observed, dropping a fold of his cloak, and looking the
soldier close in the face as he passed him, still continuing
his way toward the British fortification. The man started;
his arms rattled heavily as he threw them forward in the
lowest and most respectful salute; and when he had again
recovered his piece, he turned to walk his post, muttering
between his teeth:
"Il faut etre vigilant, en verite! je crois que nous avons
la, un caporal qui ne dort jamais!"
The officer proceeded, without affecting to hear the words
which escaped the sentinel in his surprise; nor did he again
pause until he had reached the low strand, and in a somewhat
dangerous vicinity to the western water bastion of the fort.
The light of an obscure moon was just sufficient to render
objects, though dim, perceptible in their outlines. He,
therefore, took the precaution to place himself against the
trunk of a tree, where he leaned for many minutes, and
seemed to contemplate the dark and silent mounds of the
English works in profound attention. His gaze at the
ramparts was not that of a curious or idle spectator; but
his looks wandered from point to point, denoting his
knowledge of military usages, and betraying that his search
was not unaccompanied by distrust. At length he appeared
satisfied; and having cast his eyes impatiently upward
toward the summit of the eastern mountain, as if
anticipating the approach of the morning, he was in the act
of turning on his footsteps, when a light sound on the
nearest angle of the bastion caught his ear, and induced him
Just then a figure was seen to approach the edge of the
rampart, where it stood, apparently contemplating in its
turn the distant tents of the French encampment. Its head
was then turned toward the east, as though equally anxious
for the appearance of light, when the form leaned against
the mound, and seemed to gaze upon the glassy expanse of the
waters, which, like a submarine firmament, glittered with
its thousand mimic stars. The melancholy air, the hour,
together with the vast frame of the man who thus leaned,
musing, against the English ramparts, left no doubt as to
his person in the mind of the observant spectator.
Delicacy, no less than prudence, now urged him to retire;
and he had moved cautiously round the body of the tree for
that purpose, when another sound drew his attention, and
once more arrested his footsteps. It was a low and almost
inaudible movement of the water, and was succeeded by a
grating of pebbles one against the other. In a moment he
saw a dark form rise, as it were, out of the lake, and steal
without further noise to the land, within a few feet of the
place where he himself stood. A rifle next slowly rose
between his eyes and the watery mirror; but before it could
be discharged his own hand was on the lock.
"Hugh!" exclaimed the savage, whose treacherous aim was so
singularly and so unexpectedly interrupted.
Without making any reply, the French officer laid his hand
on the shoulder of the Indian, and led him in profound
silence to a distance from the spot, where their subsequent
dialogue might have proved dangerous, and where it seemed
that one of them, at least, sought a victim. Then throwing
open his cloak, so as to expose his uniform and the cross of
St. Louis which was suspended at his breast, Montcalm
"What means this? Does not my son know that the hatchet is
buried between the English and his Canadian Father?"
"What can the Hurons do?" returned the savage, speaking
also, though imperfectly, in the French language.
"Not a warrior has a scalp, and the pale faces make
"Ha, Le Renard Subtil! Methinks this is an excess of zeal
for a friend who was so late an enemy! How many suns have
set since Le Renard struck the war-post of the English?"
"Where is that sun?" demanded the sullen savage. "Behind
the hill; and it is dark and cold. But when he comes again,
it will be bright and warm. Le Subtil is the sun of his
tribe. There have been clouds, and many mountains between
him and his nation; but now he shines and it is a clear
"That Le Renard has power with his people, I well know,"
said Montcalm; "for yesterday he hunted for their scalps,
and to-day they hear him at the council-fire."
"Magua is a great chief."
"Let him prove it, by teaching his nation how to conduct
themselves toward our new friends."
"Why did the chief of the Canadas bring his young men into
the woods, and fire his cannon at the earthen house?"
demanded the subtle Indian.
"To subdue it. My master owns the land, and your father was
ordered to drive off these English squatters. They have
consented to go, and now he calls them enemies no longer."
"'Tis well. Magua took the hatchet to color it with blood.
It is now bright; when it is red, it shall be buried."
"But Magua is pledged not to sully the lilies of France.
The enemies of the great king across the salt lake are his
enemies; his friends, the friends of the Hurons."
"Friends!" repeated the Indian in scorn. "Let his father
give Magua a hand."
Montcalm, who felt that his influence over the warlike
tribes he had gathered was to be maintained by concession
rather than by power, complied reluctantly with the other's
request. The savage placed the fingers of the French
commander on a deep scar in his bosom, and then exultingly
"Does my father know that?"
"What warrior does not? 'Tis where a leaden bullet has cut."
"And this?" continued the Indian, who had turned his naked
back to the other, his body being without its usual calico
"This! -- my son has been sadly injured here; who has done
"Magua slept hard in the English wigwams, and the sticks
have left their mark," returned the savage, with a hollow
laugh, which did not conceal the fierce temper that nearly
choked him. Then, recollecting himself, with sudden and
native dignity, he added: "Go; teach your young men it is
peace. Le Renard Subtil knows how to speak to a Huron
Without deigning to bestow further words, or to wait for any
answer, the savage cast his rifle into the hollow of his
arm, and moved silently through the encampment toward the
woods where his own tribe was known to lie. Every few yards
as he proceeded he was challenged by the sentinels; but he
stalked sullenly onward, utterly disregarding the summons of
the soldiers, who only spared his life because they knew the
air and tread no less than the obstinate daring of an
Montcalm lingered long and melancholy on the strand where he
had been left by his companion, brooding deeply on the
temper which his ungovernable ally had just discovered.
Already had his fair fame been tarnished by one horrid
scene, and in circumstances fearfully resembling those under
which he now found himself. As he mused he became keenly
sensible of the deep responsibility they assume who
disregard the means to attain the end, and of all the danger
of setting in motion an engine which it exceeds human power
to control. Then shaking off a train of reflections that he
accounted a weakness in such a moment of triumph, he
retraced his steps toward his tent, giving the order as he
passed to make the signal that should arouse the army from
The first tap of the French drums was echoed from the bosom
of the fort, and presently the valley was filled with the
strains of martial music, rising long, thrilling and lively
above the rattling accompaniment. The horns of the victors
sounded merry and cheerful flourishes, until the last
laggard of the camp was at his post; but the instant the
British fifes had blown their shrill signal, they became
mute. In the meantime the day had dawned, and when the line
of the French army was ready to receive its general, the
rays of a brilliant sun were glancing along the glittering
array. Then that success, which was already so well known,
was officially announced; the favored band who were selected
to guard the gates of the fort were detailed, and defiled
before their chief; the signal of their approach was given,
and all the usual preparations for a change of masters were
ordered and executed directly under the guns of the
A very different scene presented itself within the lines of
the Anglo-American army. As soon as the warning signal was
given, it exhibited all the signs of a hurried and forced
departure. The sullen soldiers shouldered their empty tubes
and fell into their places, like men whose blood had been
heated by the past contest, and who only desired the
opportunity to revenge an indignity which was still wounding
to their pride, concealed as it was under the observances of
Women and children ran from place to place, some bearing the
scanty remnants of their baggage, and others searching in
the ranks for those countenances they looked up to for
Munro appeared among his silent troops firm but dejected.
It was evident that the unexpected blow had struck deep into
his heart, though he struggled to sustain his misfortune
with the port of a man.
Duncan was touched at the quiet and impressive exhibition of
his grief. He had discharged his own duty, and he now
pressed to the side of the old man, to know in what
particular he might serve him.
"My daughters," was the brief but expressive reply.
"Good heavens! are not arrangements already made for their
"To-day I am only a soldier, Major Heyward," said the
veteran. "All that you see here, claim alike to be my
Duncan had heard enough. Without losing one of those
moments which had now become so precious, he flew toward the
quarters of Munro, in quest of the sisters. He found them
on the threshold of the low edifice, already prepared to
depart, and surrounded by a clamorous and weeping assemblage
of their own sex, that had gathered about the place, with a
sort of instinctive consciousness that it was the point most
likely to be protected. Though the cheeks of Cora were pale
and her countenance anxious, she had lost none of her
firmness; but the eyes of Alice were inflamed, and betrayed
how long and bitterly she had wept. They both, however,
received the young man with undisguised pleasure; the
former, for a novelty, being the first to speak.
"The fort is lost," she said, with a melancholy smile;
"though our good name, I trust, remains."
"'Tis brighter than ever. But, dearest Miss Munro, it is
time to think less of others, and to make some provision for
yourself. Military usage -- pride -- that pride on which
you so much value yourself, demands that your father and I
should for a little while continue with the troops. Then
where to seek a proper protector for you against the
confusion and chances of such a scene?"
"None is necessary," returned Cora; "who will dare to injure
or insult the daughter of such a father, at a time like
"I would not leave you alone," continued the youth, looking
about him in a hurried manner, "for the command of the best
regiment in the pay of the king. Remember, our Alice is not
gifted with all your firmness, and God only knows the terror
she might endure."
"You may be right," Cora replied, smiling again, but far
more sadly than before. "Listen! chance has already sent us
a friend when he is most needed."
Duncan did listen, and on the instant comprehended her
meaning. The low and serious sounds of the sacred music, so
well known to the eastern provinces, caught his ear, and
instantly drew him to an apartment in an adjacent building,
which had already been deserted by its customary tenants.
There he found David, pouring out his pious feelings through
the only medium in which he ever indulged. Duncan waited,
until, by the cessation of the movement of the hand, he
believed the strain was ended, when, by touching his
shoulder, he drew the attention of the other to himself, and
in a few words explained his wishes.
"Even so," replied the single-minded disciple of the King of
Israel, when the young man had ended; "I have found much
that is comely and melodious in the maidens, and it is
fitting that we who have consorted in so much peril, should
abide together in peace. I will attend them, when I have
completed my morning praise, to which nothing is now wanting
but the doxology. Wilt thou bear a part, friend? The meter
is common, and the tune 'Southwell'."
Then, extending the little volume, and giving the pitch of
the air anew with considerate attention, David recommenced
and finished his strains, with a fixedness of manner that it
was not easy to interrupt. Heyward was fain to wait until
the verse was ended; when, seeing David relieving himself
from the spectacles, and replacing the book, he continued.
"It will be your duty to see that none dare to approach the
ladies with any rude intention, or to offer insult or taunt
at the misfortune of their brave father. In this task you
will be seconded by the domestics of their household."
"It is possible that the Indians and stragglers of the enemy
may intrude, in which case you will remind them of the terms
of the capitulation, and threaten to report their conduct to
Montcalm. A word will suffice."
"If not, I have that here which shall," returned David,
exhibiting his book, with an air in which meekness and
confidence were singularly blended. Here are words which,
uttered, or rather thundered, with proper emphasis, and in
measured time, shall quiet the most unruly temper:
"'Why rage the heathen furiously'?"
"Enough," said Heyward, interrupting the burst of his
musical invocation; "we understand each other; it is time
that we should now assume our respective duties."
Gamut cheerfully assented, and together they sought the
females. Cora received her new and somewhat extraordinary
protector courteously, at least; and even the pallid
features of Alice lighted again with some of their native
archness as she thanked Heyward for his care. Duncan took
occasion to assure them he had done the best that
circumstances permitted, and, as he believed, quite enough
for the security of their feelings; of danger there was
none. He then spoke gladly of his intention to rejoin them
the moment he had led the advance a few miles toward the
Hudson, and immediately took his leave.
By this time the signal for departure had been given, and
the head of the English column was in motion. The sisters
started at the sound, and glancing their eyes around, they
saw the white uniforms of the French grenadiers, who had
already taken possession of the gates of the fort. At that
moment an enormous cloud seemed to pass suddenly above their
heads, and, looking upward, they discovered that they stood
beneath the wide folds of the standard of France.
"Let us go," said Cora; "this is no longer a fit place for
the children of an English officer."
Alice clung to the arm of her sister, and together they left
the parade, accompanied by the moving throng that surrounded
As they passed the gates, the French officers, who had
learned their rank, bowed often and low, forbearing,
however, to intrude those attentions which they saw, with
peculiar tact, might not be agreeable. As every vehicle and
each beast of burden was occupied by the sick and wounded,
Cora had decided to endure the fatigues of a foot march,
rather than interfere with their comforts. Indeed, many a
maimed and feeble soldier was compelled to drag his
exhausted limbs in the rear of the columns, for the want of
the necessary means of conveyance in that wilderness. The
whole, however, was in motion; the weak and wounded,
groaning and in suffering; their comrades silent and sullen;
and the women and children in terror, they knew not of what.
As the confused and timid throng left the protecting mounds
of the fort, and issued on the open plain, the whole scene
was at once presented to their eyes. At a little distance
on the right, and somewhat in the rear, the French army
stood to their arms, Montcalm having collected his parties,
so soon as his guards had possession of the works. They
were attentive but silent observers of the proceedings of
the vanquished, failing in none of the stipulated military
honors, and offering no taunt or insult, in their success,
to their less fortunate foes. Living masses of the English,
to the amount, in the whole, of near three thousand, were
moving slowly across the plain, toward the common center,
and gradually approached each other, as they converged to
the point of their march, a vista cut through the lofty
trees, where the road to the Hudson entered the forest.
Along the sweeping borders of the woods hung a dark cloud of
savages, eyeing the passage of their enemies, and hovering
at a distance, like vultures who were only kept from
swooping on their prey by the presence and restraint of a
superior army. A few had straggled among the conquered
columns, where they stalked in sullen discontent; attentive,
though, as yet, passive observers of the moving multitude.
The advance, with Heyward at its head, had already reached
the defile, and was slowly disappearing, when the attention
of Cora was drawn to a collection of stragglers by the
sounds of contention. A truant provincial was paying the
forfeit of his disobedience, by being plundered of those
very effects which had caused him to desert his place in the
ranks. The man was of powerful frame, and too avaricious to
part with his goods without a struggle. Individuals from
either party interfered; the one side to prevent and the
other to aid in the robbery. Voices grew loud and angry,
and a hundred savages appeared, as it were, by magic, where
a dozen only had been seen a minute before. It was then
that Cora saw the form of Magua gliding among his
countrymen, and speaking with his fatal and artful
eloquence. The mass of women and children stopped, and
hovered together like alarmed and fluttering birds. But the
cupidity of the Indian was soon gratified, and the different
bodies again moved slowly onward.
The savages now fell back, and seemed content to let their
enemies advance without further molestation. But, as the
female crowd approached them, the gaudy colors of a shawl
attracted the eyes of a wild and untutored Huron. He
advanced to seize it without the least hesitation. The
woman, more in terror than through love of the ornament,
wrapped her child in the coveted article, and folded both
more closely to her bosom. Cora was in the act of speaking,
with an intent to advise the woman to abandon the trifle,
when the savage relinquished his hold of the shawl, and tore
the screaming infant from her arms. Abandoning everything
to the greedy grasp of those around her, the mother darted,
with distraction in her mien, to reclaim her child. The
Indian smiled grimly, and extended one hand, in sign of a
willingness to exchange, while, with the other, he
flourished the babe over his head, holding it by the feet as
if to enhance the value of the ransom.
"Here -- here -- there -- all -- any -- everything!"
exclaimed the breathless woman, tearing the lighter articles
of dress from her person with ill-directed and trembling
fingers; "take all, but give me my babe!"
The savage spurned the worthless rags, and perceiving that
the shawl had already become a prize to another, his
bantering but sullen smile changing to a gleam of ferocity,
he dashed the head of the infant against a rock, and cast
its quivering remains to her very feet. For an instant the
mother stood, like a statue of despair, looking wildly down
at the unseemly object, which had so lately nestled in her
bosom and smiled in her face; and then she raised her eyes
and countenance toward heaven, as if calling on God to curse
the perpetrator of the foul deed. She was spared the sin of
such a prayer for, maddened at his disappointment, and
excited at the sight of blood, the Huron mercifully drove
his tomahawk into her own brain. The mother sank under the
blow, and fell, grasping at her child, in death, with the
same engrossing love that had caused her to cherish it when
At that dangerous moment, Magua placed his hands to his
mouth, and raised the fatal and appalling whoop. The
scattered Indians started at the well-known cry, as coursers
bound at the signal to quit the goal; and directly there
arose such a yell along the plain, and through the arches of
the wood, as seldom burst from human lips before. They who
heard it listened with a curdling horror at the heart,
little inferior to that dread which may be expected to
attend the blasts of the final summons.
More than two thousand raving savages broke from the forest
at the signal, and threw themselves across the fatal plain
with instinctive alacrity. We shall not dwell on the
revolting horrors that succeeded. Death was everywhere, and
in his most terrific and disgusting aspects. Resistance
only served to inflame the murderers, who inflicted their
furious blows long after their victims were beyond the power
of their resentment. The flow of blood might be likened to
the outbreaking of a torrent; and as the natives became
heated and maddened by the sight, many among them even
kneeled to the earth, and drank freely, exultingly,
hellishly, of the crimson tide.
The trained bodies of the troops threw themselves quickly
into solid masses, endeavoring to awe their assailants by
the imposing appearance of a military front. The experiment
in some measure succeeded, though far too many suffered
their unloaded muskets to be torn from their hands, in the
vain hope of appeasing the savages.
In such a scene none had leisure to note the fleeting moments.
It might have been ten minutes (it seemed an age) that the
sisters had stood riveted to one spot, horror-stricken and
nearly helpless. When the first blow was struck, their
screaming companions had pressed upon them in a body, rendering
flight impossible; and now that fear or death had scattered
most, if not all, from around them, they saw no avenue open,
but such as conducted to the tomahawks of their foes. On every
side arose shrieks, groans, exhortations and curses. At this
moment, Alice caught a glimpse of the vast form of her father,
moving rapidly across the plain, in the direction of the French
army. He was, in truth, proceeding to Montcalm, fearless of
every danger, to claim the tardy escort for which he had before
conditioned. Fifty glittering axes and barbed spears were
offered unheeded at his life, but the savages respected his
rank and calmness, even in their fury. The dangerous weapons
were brushed aside by the still nervous arm of the veteran, or
fell of themselves, after menacing an act that it would seem no
one had courage to perform. Fortunately, the vindictive Magua
was searching for his victim in the very band the veteran had
"Father -- father -- we are here!" shrieked Alice, as he
passed, at no great distance, without appearing to heed
them. "Come to us, father, or we die!"
The cry was repeated, and in terms and tones that might have
melted a heart of stone, but it was unanswered. Once,
indeed, the old man appeared to catch the sound, for he
paused and listened; but Alice had dropped senseless on the
earth, and Cora had sunk at her side, hovering in untiring
tenderness over her lifeless form. Munro shook his head in
disappointment, and proceeded, bent on the high duty of his
"Lady," said Gamut, who, helpless and useless as he was, had
not yet dreamed of deserting his trust, "it is the jubilee
of the devils, and this is not a meet place for Christians
to tarry in. Let us up and fly."
"Go," said Cora, still gazing at her unconscious sister;
"save thyself. To me thou canst not be of further use."
David comprehended the unyielding character of her
resolution, by the simple but expressive gesture that
accompanied her words. He gazed for a moment at the dusky
forms that were acting their hellish rites on every side of
him, and his tall person grew more erect while his chest
heaved, and every feature swelled, and seemed to speak with
the power of the feelings by which he was governed.
"If the Jewish boy might tame the great spirit of Saul by
the sound of his harp, and the words of sacred song, it may
not be amiss," he said, "to try the potency of music here."
Then raising his voice to its highest tone, he poured out a
strain so powerful as to be heard even amid the din of that
bloody field. More than one savage rushed toward them,
thinking to rifle the unprotected sisters of their attire,
and bear away their scalps; but when they found this strange
and unmoved figure riveted to his post, they paused to
listen. Astonishment soon changed to admiration, and they
passed on to other and less courageous victims, openly
expressing their satisfaction at the firmness with which the
white warrior sang his death song. Encouraged and deluded
by his success, David exerted all his powers to extend what
he believed so holy an influence. The unwonted sounds
caught the ears of a distant savage, who flew raging from
group to group, like one who, scorning to touch the vulgar
herd, hunted for some victim more worthy of his renown. It
was Magua, who uttered a yell of pleasure when he beheld his
ancient prisoners again at his mercy.
"Come," he said, laying his soiled hands on the dress of
Cora, "the wigwam of the Huron is still open. Is it not
better than this place?"
"Away!" cried Cora, veiling her eyes from his revolting
The Indian laughed tauntingly, as he held up his reeking
hand, and answered: "It is red, but it comes from white
"Monster! there is blood, oceans of blood, upon thy soul;
thy spirit has moved this scene."
"Magua is a great chief!" returned the exulting savage,
"will the dark-hair go to his tribe?"
"Never! strike if thou wilt, and complete thy revenge." He
hesitated a moment, and then catching the light and
senseless form of Alice in his arms, the subtle Indian moved
swiftly across the plain toward the woods.
"Hold!" shrieked Cora, following wildly on his footsteps;
"release the child! wretch! what is't you do?"
But Magua was deaf to her voice; or, rather, he knew his
power, and was determined to maintain it.
"Stay -- lady -- stay," called Gamut, after the unconscious
Cora. "The holy charm is beginning to be felt, and soon
shalt thou see this horrid tumult stilled."
Perceiving that, in his turn, he was unheeded, the faithful
David followed the distracted sister, raising his voice
again in sacred song, and sweeping the air to the measure,
with his long arm, in diligent accompaniment. In this
manner they traversed the plain, through the flying, the
wounded and the dead. The fierce Huron was, at any time,
sufficient for himself and the victim that he bore; though
Cora would have fallen more than once under the blows of her
savage enemies, but for the extraordinary being who stalked
in her rear, and who now appeared to the astonished natives
gifted with the protecting spirit of madness.
Magua, who knew how to avoid the more pressing dangers, and
also to elude pursuit, entered the woods through a low
ravine, where he quickly found the Narragansetts, which the
travelers had abandoned so shortly before, awaiting his
appearance, in custody of a savage as fierce and malign in
his expression as himself. Laying Alice on one of the
horses, he made a sign to Cora to mount the other.
Notwithstanding the horror excited by the presence of her
captor, there was a present relief in escaping from the
bloody scene enacting on the plain, to which Cora could not
be altogether insensible. She took her seat, and held forth
her arms for her sister, with an air of entreaty and love
that even the Huron could not deny. Placing Alice, then, on
the same animal with Cora, he seized the bridle, and
commenced his route by plunging deeper into the forest.
David, perceiving that he was left alone, utterly
disregarded as a subject too worthless even to destroy,
threw his long limb across the saddle of the beast they had
deserted, and made such progress in the pursuit as the
difficulties of the path permitted.
They soon began to ascend; but as the motion had a tendency
to revive the dormant faculties of her sister, the attention
of Cora was too much divided between the tenderest
solicitude in her behalf, and in listening to the cries
which were still too audible on the plain, to note the
direction in which they journeyed. When, however, they
gained the flattened surface of the mountain-top, and
approached the eastern precipice, she recognized the spot to
which she had once before been led under the more friendly
auspices of the scout. Here Magua suffered them to
dismount; and notwithstanding their own captivity, the
curiosity which seems inseparable from horror, induced them
to gaze at the sickening sight below.
The cruel work was still unchecked. On every side the
captured were flying before their relentless persecutors,
while the armed columns of the Christian king stood fast in
an apathy which has never been explained, and which has left
an immovable blot on the otherwise fair escutcheon of their
leader. Nor was the sword of death stayed until cupidity
got the mastery of revenge. Then, indeed, the shrieks of
the wounded, and the yells of their murderers grew less
frequent, until, finally, the cries of horror were lost to
their ear, or were drowned in the loud, long and piercing
whoops of the triumphant savages.
"Why, anything; An honorable murderer, if you will; For
naught I did in hate, but all in honor."--Othello
The bloody and inhuman scene rather incidentally mentioned
than described in the preceding chapter, is conspicuous in
the pages of colonial history by the merited title of "The
Massacre of William Henry." It so far deepened the stain
which a previous and very similar event had left upon the
reputation of the French commander that it was not entirely
erased by his early and glorious death. It is now becoming
obscured by time; and thousands, who know that Montcalm died
like a hero on the plains of Abraham, have yet to learn how
much he was deficient in that moral courage without which no
man can be truly great. Pages might yet be written to prove,
from this illustrious example, the defects of human
excellence; to show how easy it is for generous sentiments,
high courtesy, and chivalrous courage to lose their
influence beneath the chilling blight of selfishness, and to
exhibit to the world a man who was great in all the minor
attributes of character, but who was found wanting when it
became necessary to prove how much principle is superior to
policy. But the task would exceed our prerogatives; and, as
history, like love, is so apt to surround her heroes with an
atmosphere of imaginary brightness, it is probable that
Louis de Saint Veran will be viewed by posterity only as the
gallant defender of his country, while his cruel apathy on
the shores of the Oswego and of the Horican will be
forgotten. Deeply regretting this weakness on the part of a
sister muse, we shall at once retire from her sacred
precincts, within the proper limits of our own humble
The third day from the capture of the fort was drawing to a
close, but the business of the narrative must still detain
the reader on the shores of the "holy lake." When last
seen, the environs of the works were filled with violence
and uproar. They were now possessed by stillness and death.
The blood-stained conquerors had departed; and their camp,
which had so lately rung with the merry rejoicings of a
victorious army, lay a silent and deserted city of huts.
The fortress was a smoldering ruin; charred rafters,
fragments of exploded artillery, and rent mason-work
covering its earthen mounds in confused disorder.
A frightful change had also occurred in the season. The sun
had hid its warmth behind an impenetrable mass of vapor, and
hundreds of human forms, which had blackened beneath the
fierce heats of August, were stiffening in their deformity
before the blasts of a premature November. The curling and
spotless mists, which had been seen sailing above the hills
toward the north, were now returning in an interminable
dusky sheet, that was urged along by the fury of a tempest.
The crowded mirror of the Horican was gone; and, in its
place, the green and angry waters lashed the shores, as if
indignantly casting back its impurities to the polluted
strand. Still the clear fountain retained a portion of its
charmed influence, but it reflected only the somber gloom
that fell from the impending heavens. That humid and
congenial atmosphere which commonly adorned the view,
veiling its harshness, and softening its asperities, had
disappeared, the northern air poured across the waste of
water so harsh and unmingled, that nothing was left to be
conjectured by the eye, or fashioned by the fancy.
The fiercer element had cropped the verdure of the plain,
which looked as though it were scathed by the consuming
lightning. But, here and there, a dark green tuft rose in
the midst of the desolation; the earliest fruits of a soil
that had been fattened with human blood. The whole
landscape, which, seen by a favoring light, and in a genial
temperature, had been found so lovely, appeared now like
some pictured allegory of life, in which objects were
arrayed in their harshest but truest colors, and without the
relief of any shadowing.
The solitary and arid blades of grass arose from the passing
gusts fearfully perceptible; the bold and rocky mountains
were too distinct in their barrenness, and the eye even
sought relief, in vain, by attempting to pierce the
illimitable void of heaven, which was shut to its gaze by
the dusky sheet of ragged and driving vapor.
The wind blew unequally; sometimes sweeping heavily along
the ground, seeming to whisper its moanings in the cold ears
of the dead, then rising in a shrill and mournful whistling,
it entered the forest with a rush that filled the air with
the leaves and branches it scattered in its path. Amid the
unnatural shower, a few hungry ravens struggled with the
gale; but no sooner was the green ocean of woods which
stretched beneath them, passed, than they gladly stopped, at
random, to their hideous banquet.
In short, it was a scene of wildness and desolation; and it
appeared as if all who had profanely entered it had been
stricken, at a blow, by the relentless arm of death. But
the prohibition had ceased; and for the first time since the
perpetrators of those foul deeds which had assisted to
disfigure the scene were gone, living human beings had now
presumed to approach the place.
About an hour before the setting of the sun, on the day
already mentioned, the forms of five men might have been
seen issuing from the narrow vista of trees, where the path
to the Hudson entered the forest, and advancing in the
direction of the ruined works. At first their progress was
slow and guarded, as though they entered with reluctance
amid the horrors of the post, or dreaded the renewal of its
frightful incidents. A light figure preceded the rest of
the party, with the caution and activity of a native;
ascending every hillock to reconnoiter, and indicating by
gestures, to his companions, the route he deemed it most
prudent to pursue. Nor were those in the rear wanting in
every caution and foresight known to forest warfare. One
among them, he also was an Indian, moved a little on one
flank, and watched the margin of the woods, with eyes long
accustomed to read the smallest sign of danger. The
remaining three were white, though clad in vestments
adapted, both in quality and color, to their present
hazardous pursuit--that of hanging on the skirts of a
retiring army in the wilderness.
The effects produced by the appalling sights that constantly
arose in their path to the lake shore, were as different as
the characters of the respective individuals who composed
the party. The youth in front threw serious but furtive
glances at the mangled victims, as he stepped lightly across
the plain, afraid to exhibit his feelings, and yet too
inexperienced to quell entirely their sudden and powerful
influence. His red associate, however, was superior to such
a weakness. He passed the groups of dead with a steadiness
of purpose, and an eye so calm, that nothing but long and
inveterate practise could enable him to maintain. The
sensations produced in the minds of even the white men were
different, though uniformly sorrowful. One, whose gray
locks and furrowed lineaments, blending with a martial air
and tread, betrayed, in spite of the disguise of a
woodsman's dress, a man long experienced in scenes of war,
was not ashamed to groan aloud, whenever a spectacle of more
than usual horror came under his view. The young man at his
elbow shuddered, but seemed to suppress his feelings in
tenderness to his companion. Of them all, the straggler who
brought up the rear appeared alone to betray his real
thoughts, without fear of observation or dread of
consequences. He gazed at the most appalling sight with
eyes and muscles that knew not how to waver, but with
execrations so bitter and deep as to denote how much he
denounced the crime of his enemies.
The reader will perceive at once, in these respective
characters, the Mohicans, and their white friend, the scout;
together with Munro and Heyward. It was, in truth, the
father in quest of his children, attended by the youth who
felt so deep a stake in their happiness, and those brave and
trusty foresters, who had already proved their skill and
fidelity through the trying scenes related.
When Uncas, who moved in front, had reached the center of
the plain, he raised a cry that drew his companions in a
body to the spot. The young warrior had halted over a group
of females who lay in a cluster, a confused mass of dead.
Notwithstanding the revolting horror of the exhibition,
Munro and Heyward flew toward the festering heap,
endeavoring, with a love that no unseemliness could
extinguish, to discover whether any vestiges of those they
sought were to be seen among the tattered and many-colored
garments. The father and the lover found instant relief in
the search; though each was condemned again to experience
the misery of an uncertainty that was hardly less
insupportable than the most revolting truth. They were
standing, silent and thoughtful, around the melancholy pile,
when the scout approached. Eyeing the sad spectacle with an
angry countenance, the sturdy woodsman, for the first time
since his entering the plain, spoke intelligibly and aloud:
"I have been on many a shocking field, and have followed a
trail of blood for weary miles," he said, "but never have I
found the hand of the devil so plain as it is here to be
seen! Revenge is an Indian feeling, and all who know me
know that there is no cross in my veins; but this much will
I say -- here, in the face of heaven, and with the power of
the Lord so manifest in this howling wilderness -- that
should these Frenchers ever trust themselves again within
the range of a ragged bullet, there is one rifle which shall
play its part so long as flint will fire or powder burn! I
leave the tomahawk and knife to such as have a natural gift
to use them. What say you, Chingachgook," he added, in
Delaware; "shall the Hurons boast of this to their women
when the deep snows come?"
A gleam of resentment flashed across the dark lineaments of
the Mohican chief; he loosened his knife in his sheath; and
then turning calmly from the sight, his countenance settled
into a repose as deep as if he knew the instigation of
"Montcalm! Montcalm!" continued the deeply resentful and
less self-restrained scout; "they say a time must come when
all the deeds done in the flesh will be seen at a single
look; and that by eyes cleared from mortal infirmities. Woe
betide the wretch who is born to behold this plain, with the
judgment hanging about his soul! Ha -- as I am a man of
white blood, yonder lies a red-skin, without the hair of his
head where nature rooted it! Look to him, Delaware; it may
be one of your missing people; and he should have burial
like a stout warrior. I see it in your eye, Sagamore; a
Huron pays for this, afore the fall winds have blown away
the scent of the blood!"
Chingachgook approached the mutilated form, and, turning it
over, he found the distinguishing marks of one of those six
allied tribes, or nations, as they were called, who, while
they fought in the English ranks, were so deadly hostile to
his own people. Spurning the loathsome object with his
foot, he turned from it with the same indifference he would
have quitted a brute carcass. The scout comprehended the
action, and very deliberately pursued his own way,
continuing, however, his denunciations against the French
commander in the same resentful strain.
"Nothing but vast wisdom and unlimited power should dare to
sweep off men in multitudes," he added; "for it is only the
one that can know the necessity of the judgment; and what is
there, short of the other, that can replace the creatures of
the Lord? I hold it a sin to kill the second buck afore the
first is eaten, unless a march in front, or an ambushment,
be contemplated. It is a different matter with a few
warriors in open and rugged fight, for 'tis their gift to
die with the rifle or the tomahawk in hand; according as
their natures may happen to be, white or red. Uncas, come
this way, lad, and let the ravens settle upon the Mingo. I
know, from often seeing it, that they have a craving for the
flesh of an Oneida; and it is as well to let the bird follow
the gift of its natural appetite."
"Hugh!" exclaimed the young Mohican, rising on the
extremities of his feet, and gazing intently in his front,
frightening the ravens to some other prey by the sound and
"What is it, boy?" whispered the scout, lowering his tall
form into a crouching attitude, like a panther about to take
his leap; "God send it be a tardy Frencher, skulking for
plunder. I do believe 'killdeer' would take an uncommon
Uncas, without making any reply, bounded away from the spot,
and in the next instant he was seen tearing from a bush, and
waving in triumph, a fragment of the green riding-veil of
Cora. The movement, the exhibition, and the cry which again
burst from the lips of the young Mohican, instantly drew the
whole party about him.
"My child!" said Munro, speaking quickly and wildly; "give
me my child!"
"Uncas will try," was the short and touching answer.
The simple but meaning assurance was lost on the father, who
seized the piece of gauze, and crushed it in his hand, while
his eyes roamed fearfully among the bushes, as if he equally
dreaded and hoped for the secrets they might reveal.
"Here are no dead," said Heyward; "the storm seems not to
have passed this way."
"That's manifest; and clearer than the heavens above our
heads," returned the undisturbed scout; "but either she, or
they that have robbed her, have passed the bush; for I
remember the rag she wore to hide a face that all did love
to look upon. Uncas, you are right; the dark-hair has been
here, and she has fled like a frightened fawn, to the wood;
none who could fly would remain to be murdered. Let us
search for the marks she left; for, to Indian eyes, I
sometimes think a humming-bird leaves his trail in the air."
The young Mohican darted away at the suggestion, and the
scout had hardly done speaking, before the former raised a
cry of success from the margin of the forest. On reaching
the spot, the anxious party perceived another portion of the
veil fluttering on the lower branch of a beech.
"Softly, softly," said the scout, extending his long rifle
in front of the eager Heyward; "we now know our work, but
the beauty of the trail must not be deformed. A step too
soon may give us hours of trouble. We have them, though;
that much is beyond denial."
"Bless ye, bless ye, worthy man!" exclaimed Munro; "whither
then, have they fled, and where are my babes?"
"The path they have taken depends on many chances. If they
have gone alone, they are quite as likely to move in a
circle as straight, and they may be within a dozen miles of
us; but if the Hurons, or any of the French Indians, have
laid hands on them, 'tis probably they are now near the
borders of the Canadas. But what matters that?" continued
the deliberate scout, observing the powerful anxiety and
disappointment the listeners exhibited; "here are the
Mohicans and I on one end of the trail, and, rely on it, we
find the other, though they should be a hundred leagues
asunder! Gently, gently, Uncas, you are as impatient as a
man in the settlements; you forget that light feet leave but
"Hugh!" exclaimed Chingachgook, who had been occupied in
examining an opening that had been evidently made through
the low underbrush which skirted the forest; and who now
stood erect, as he pointed downward, in the attitude and
with the air of a man who beheld a disgusting serpent.
"Here is the palpable impression of the footstep of a man,"
cried Heyward, bending over the indicated spot; "he has trod
in the margin of this pool, and the mark cannot be mistaken.
They are captives."
"Better so than left to starve in the wilderness," returned
the scout; "and they will leave a wider trail. I would
wager fifty beaver skins against as many flints, that the
Mohicans and I enter their wigwams within the month! Stoop
to it, Uncas, and try what you can make of the moccasin; for
moccasin it plainly is, and no shoe."
The young Mohican bent over the track, and removing the
scattered leaves from around the place, he examined it with
much of that sort of scrutiny that a money dealer, in these
days of pecuniary doubts, would bestow on a suspected due-bill.
At length he arose from his knees, satisfied with the result
of the examination.
"Well, boy," demanded the attentive scout; "what does it
say? Can you make anything of the tell-tale?"
"Le Renard Subtil!"
"Ha! that rampaging devil again! there will never be an end
of his loping till 'killdeer' has said a friendly word to
Heyward reluctantly admitted the truth of this intelligence,
and now expressed rather his hopes than his doubts by
"One moccasin is so much like another, it is probable there
is some mistake."
"One moccasin like another! you may as well say that one
foot is like another; though we all know that some are long,
and others short; some broad and others narrow; some with
high, and some with low insteps; some intoed, and some out.
One moccasin is no more like another than one book is like
another: though they who can read in one are seldom able to
tell the marks of the other. Which is all ordered for the
best, giving to every man his natural advantages. Let me
get down to it, Uncas; neither book nor moccasin is the
worse for having two opinions, instead of one." The scout
stooped to the task, and instantly added:
"You are right, boy; here is the patch we saw so often in
the other chase. And the fellow will drink when he can get
an opportunity; your drinking Indian always learns to walk
with a wider toe than the natural savage, it being the gift
of a drunkard to straddle, whether of white or red skin.
'Tis just the length and breadth, too! look at it, Sagamore;
you measured the prints more than once, when we hunted the
varmints from Glenn's to the health springs."
Chingachgook complied; and after finishing his short
examination, he arose, and with a quiet demeanor, he merely
pronounced the word:
"Ay, 'tis a settled thing; here, then, have passed the
dark-hair and Magua."
"And not Alice?" demanded Heyward.
"Of her we have not yet seen the signs," returned the scout,
looking closely around at the trees, the bushes and the
ground. "What have we there? Uncas, bring hither the thing
you see dangling from yonder thorn-bush."
When the Indian had complied, the scout received the prize,
and holding it on high, he laughed in his silent but
"'Tis the tooting we'pon of the singer! now we shall have a
trail a priest might travel," he said. "Uncas, look for the
marks of a shoe that is long enough to uphold six feet two
of tottering human flesh. I begin to have some hopes of the
fellow, since he has given up squalling to follow some
"At least he has been faithful to his trust," said Heyward.
"And Cora and Alice are not without a friend."
"Yes," said Hawkeye, dropping his rifle, and leaning on it
with an air of visible contempt, "he will do their singing.
Can he slay a buck for their dinner; journey by the moss on
the beeches, or cut the throat of a Huron? If not, the
first catbird* he meets is the cleverer of the two. Well,
boy, any signs of such a foundation?"
* The powers of the American mocking-bird are
generally known. But the true mocking-bird is not found so
far north as the state of New York, where it has, however,
two substitutes of inferior excellence, the catbird, so
often named by the scout, and the bird vulgarly called
ground-thresher. Either of these last two birds is superior
to the nightingale or the lark, though, in general, the
American birds are less musical than those of Europe.
"Here is something like the footstep of one who has worn a
shoe; can it be that of our friend?"
"Touch the leaves lightly or you'll disconsart the
formation. That! that is the print of a foot, but 'tis the
dark-hair's; and small it is, too, for one of such a noble
height and grand appearance. The singer would cover it with
"Where! let me look on the footsteps of my child," said
Munro, shoving the bushes aside, and bending fondly over the
nearly obliterated impression. Though the tread which had
left the mark had been light and rapid, it was still plainly
visible. The aged soldier examined it with eyes that grew
dim as he gazed; nor did he rise from this stooping posture
until Heyward saw that he had watered the trace of his
daughter's passage with a scalding tear. Willing to divert
a distress which threatened each moment to break through the
restraint of appearances, by giving the veteran something to
do, the young man said to the scout:
"As we now possess these infallible signs, let us commence
our march. A moment, at such a time, will appear an age to
"It is not the swiftest leaping deer that gives the longest
chase," returned Hawkeye, without moving his eyes from the
different marks that had come under his view; "we know that
the rampaging Huron has passed, and the dark-hair, and the
singer, but where is she of the yellow locks and blue eyes?
Though little, and far from being as bold as her sister, she
is fair to the view, and pleasant in discourse. Has she no
friend, that none care for her?"
"God forbid she should ever want hundreds! Are we not now
in her pursuit? For one, I will never cease the search till
she be found."
"In that case we may have to journey by different paths; for
here she has not passed, light and little as her footsteps
Heyward drew back, all his ardor to proceed seeming to
vanish on the instant. Without attending to this sudden
change in the other's humor, the scout after musing a moment
"There is no woman in this wilderness could leave such a
print as that, but the dark-hair or her sister. We know
that the first has been here, but where are the signs of the
other? Let us push deeper on the trail, and if nothing
offers, we must go back to the plain and strike another
scent. Move on, Uncas, and keep your eyes on the dried
leaves. I will watch the bushes, while your father shall
run with a low nose to the ground. Move on, friends; the
sun is getting behind the hills."
"Is there nothing that I can do?" demanded the anxious
"You?" repeated the scout, who, with his red friends, was
already advancing in the order he had prescribed; "yes, you
can keep in our rear and be careful not to cross the trail."
Before they had proceeded many rods, the Indians stopped,
and appeared to gaze at some signs on the earth with more
than their usual keenness. Both father and son spoke quick
and loud, now looking at the object of their mutual
admiration, and now regarding each other with the most
"They have found the little foot!" exclaimed the scout,
moving forward, without attending further to his own portion
of the duty. "What have we here? An ambushment has been
planted in the spot! No, by the truest rifle on the
frontiers, here have been them one-sided horses again! Now
the whole secret is out, and all is plain as the north star
at midnight. Yes, here they have mounted. There the beasts
have been bound to a sapling, in waiting; and yonder runs
the broad path away to the north, in full sweep for the
"But still there are no signs of Alice, of the younger Miss
Munro," said Duncan.
"Unless the shining bauble Uncas has just lifted from the
ground should prove one. Pass it this way, lad, that we may
look at it."
Heyward instantly knew it for a trinket that Alice was fond
of wearing, and which he recollected, with the tenacious
memory of a lover, to have seen, on the fatal morning of the
massacre, dangling from the fair neck of his mistress. He
seized the highly prized jewel; and as he proclaimed the
fact, it vanished from the eyes of the wondering scout, who
in vain looked for it on the ground, long after it was
warmly pressed against the beating heart of Duncan.
"Pshaw!" said the disappointed Hawkeye, ceasing to rake the
leaves with the breech of his rifle; "'tis a certain sign of
age, when the sight begins to weaken. Such a glittering
gewgaw, and not to be seen! Well, well, I can squint along
a clouded barrel yet, and that is enough to settle all
disputes between me and the Mingoes. I should like to find
the thing, too, if it were only to carry it to the right
owner, and that would be bringing the two ends of what I
call a long trail together, for by this time the broad St.
Lawrence, or perhaps, the Great Lakes themselves, are
"So much the more reason why we should not delay our march,"
returned Heyward; "let us proceed."
"Young blood and hot blood, they say, are much the same
thing. We are not about to start on a squirrel hunt, or to
drive a deer into the Horican, but to outlie for days and
nights, and to stretch across a wilderness where the feet of
men seldom go, and where no bookish knowledge would carry
you through harmless. An Indian never starts on such an
expedition without smoking over his council-fire; and,
though a man of white blood, I honor their customs in this
particular, seeing that they are deliberate and wise. We
will, therefore, go back, and light our fire to-night in the
ruins of the old fort, and in the morning we shall be fresh,
and ready to undertake our work like men, and not like
babbling women or eager boys."
Heyward saw, by the manner of the scout, that altercation
would be useless. Munro had again sunk into that sort of
apathy which had beset him since his late overwhelming
misfortunes, and from which he was apparently to be roused
only by some new and powerful excitement. Making a merit of
necessity, the young man took the veteran by the arm, and
followed in the footsteps of the Indians and the scout, who
had already begun to retrace the path which conducted them
to the plain.
"Salar.--Why, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not
take his flesh; what's that good for? Shy.--To bait fish
withal; if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my
revenge."--Merchant of Venice
The shades of evening had come to increase the dreariness of
the place, when the party entered the ruins of William
Henry. The scout and his companions immediately made their
preparations to pass the night there; but with an
earnestness and sobriety of demeanor that betrayed how much
the unusual horrors they had just witnessed worked on even
their practised feelings. A few fragments of rafters were
reared against a blackened wall; and when Uncas had covered
them slightly with brush, the temporary accommodations were
deemed sufficient. The young Indian pointed toward his
rude hut when his labor was ended; and Heyward, who
understood the meaning of the silent gestures, gently urged
Munro to enter. Leaving the bereaved old man alone with his
sorrows, Duncan immediately returned into the open air, too
much excited himself to seek the repose he had recommended
to his veteran friend.
While Hawkeye and the Indians lighted their fire and took
their evening's repast, a frugal meal of dried bear's meat,
the young man paid a visit to that curtain of the
dilapidated fort which looked out on the sheet of the
Horican. The wind had fallen, and the waves were already
rolling on the sandy beach beneath him, in a more regular
and tempered succession. The clouds, as if tired of their
furious chase, were breaking asunder; the heavier volumes,
gathering in black masses about the horizon, while the
lighter scud still hurried above the water, or eddied among
the tops of the mountains, like broken flights of birds,
hovering around their roosts. Here and there, a red and
fiery star struggled through the drifting vapor, furnishing
a lurid gleam of brightness to the dull aspect of the
heavens. Within the bosom of the encircling hills, an
impenetrable darkness had already settled; and the plain lay
like a vast and deserted charnel-house, without omen or
whisper to disturb the slumbers of its numerous and hapless
Of this scene, so chillingly in accordance with the past,
Duncan stood for many minutes a rapt observer. His eyes
wandered from the bosom of the mound, where the foresters
were seated around their glimmering fire, to the fainter
light which still lingered in the skies, and then rested
long and anxiously on the embodied gloom, which lay like a
dreary void on that side of him where the dead reposed. He
soon fancied that inexplicable sounds arose from the place,
though so indistinct and stolen, as to render not only their
nature but even their existence uncertain. Ashamed of his
apprehensions, the young man turned toward the water, and
strove to divert his attention to the mimic stars that dimly
glimmered on its moving surface. Still, his too-conscious
ears performed their ungrateful duty, as if to warn him of
some lurking danger. At length, a swift trampling seemed,
quite audibly, to rush athwart the darkness. Unable any
longer to quiet his uneasiness, Duncan spoke in a low voice
to the scout, requesting him to ascend the mound to the
place where he stood. Hawkeye threw his rifle across an arm
and complied, but with an air so unmoved and calm, as to
prove how much he counted on the security of their position.
"Listen!" said Duncan, when the other placed himself
deliberately at his elbow; "there are suppressed noises on
the plain which may show Montcalm has not yet entirely
deserted his conquest."
"Then ears are better than eyes," said the undisturbed
scout, who, having just deposited a portion of a bear
between his grinders, spoke thick and slow, like one whose
mouth was doubly occupied. "I myself saw him caged in Ty,
with all his host; for your Frenchers, when they have done a
clever thing, like to get back, and have a dance, or a
merry-making, with the women over their success."
"I know not. An Indian seldom sleeps in war, and plunder
may keep a Huron here after his tribe has departed. It
would be well to extinguish the fire, and have a watch --
listen! you hear the noise I mean!"
"An Indian more rarely lurks about the graves. Though ready
to slay, and not over regardful of the means, he is commonly
content with the scalp, unless when blood is hot, and temper
up; but after spirit is once fairly gone, he forgets his
enmity, and is willing to let the dead find their natural
rest. Speaking of spirits, major, are you of opinion that
the heaven of a red-skin and of us whites will be of one and
"No doubt -- no doubt. I thought I heard it again! or was
it the rustling of the leaves in the top of the beech?"
"For my own part," continued Hawkeye, turning his face for a
moment in the direction indicated by Heyward, but with a
vacant and careless manner, "I believe that paradise is
ordained for happiness; and that men will be indulged in it
according to their dispositions and gifts. I, therefore,
judge that a red-skin is not far from the truth when he
believes he is to find them glorious hunting grounds of
which his traditions tell; nor, for that matter, do I think
it would be any disparagement to a man without a cross to
pass his time --"
"You hear it again?" interrupted Duncan.
"Ay, ay; when food is scarce, and when food is plenty, a
wolf grows bold," said the unmoved scout. "There would be
picking, too, among the skins of the devils, if there was
light and time for the sport. But, concerning the life that
is to come, major; I have heard preachers say, in the
settlements, that heaven was a place of rest. Now, men's
minds differ as to their ideas of enjoyment. For myself,
and I say it with reverence to the ordering of Providence,
it would be no great indulgence to be kept shut up in those
mansions of which they preach, having a natural longing for
motion and the chase."
Duncan, who was now made to understand the nature of the
noise he had heard, answered, with more attention to the
subject which the humor of the scout had chosen for
discussion, by saying:
"It is difficult to account for the feelings that may attend
the last great change."
"It would be a change, indeed, for a man who has passed his
days in the open air," returned the single-minded scout;
"and who has so often broken his fast on the head waters of
the Hudson, to sleep within sound of the roaring Mohawk.
But it is a comfort to know we serve a merciful Master,
though we do it each after his fashion, and with great
tracts of wilderness atween us -- what goes there?"
"Is it not the rushing of the wolves you have mentioned?"
Hawkeye slowly shook his head, and beckoned for Duncan to
follow him to a spot to which the glare from the fire did
not extend. When he had taken this precaution, the scout
placed himself in an attitude of intense attention and
listened long and keenly for a repetition of the low sound
that had so unexpectedly startled him. His vigilance,
however, seemed exercised in vain; for after a fruitless
pause, he whispered to Duncan:
"We must give a call to Uncas. The boy has Indian senses,
and he may hear what is hid from us; for, being a white-skin,
I will not deny my nature."
The young Mohican, who was conversing in a low voice with
his father, started as he heard the moaning of an owl, and,
springing on his feet, he looked toward the black mounds, as
if seeking the place whence the sounds proceeded. The scout
repeated the call, and in a few moments, Duncan saw the
figure of Uncas stealing cautiously along the rampart, to
the spot where they stood.
Hawkeye explained his wishes in a very few words, which were
spoken in the Delaware tongue. So soon as Uncas was in
possession of the reason why he was summoned, he threw
himself flat on the turf; where, to the eyes of Duncan, he
appeared to lie quiet and motionless. Surprised at the
immovable attitude of the young warrior, and curious to
observe the manner in which he employed his faculties to
obtain the desired information, Heyward advanced a few
steps, and bent over the dark object on which he had kept
his eye riveted. Then it was he discovered that the form of
Uncas vanished, and that he beheld only the dark outline of
an inequality in the embankment.
"What has become of the Mohican?" he demanded of the scout,
stepping back in amazement; "it was here that I saw him
fall, and could have sworn that here he yet remained."
"Hist! speak lower; for we know not what ears are open, and
the Mingoes are a quick-witted breed. As for Uncas, he is
out on the plain, and the Maquas, if any such are about us,
will find their equal."
"You think that Montcalm has not called off all his Indians?
Let us give the alarm to our companions, that we may stand
to our arms. Here are five of us, who are not unused to
meet an enemy."
"Not a word to either, as you value your life. Look at the
Sagamore, how like a grand Indian chief he sits by the fire.
If there are any skulkers out in the darkness, they will
never discover, by his countenance, that we suspect danger
"But they may discover him, and it will prove his death.
His person can be too plainly seen by the light of that
fire, and he will become the first and most certain victim."
"It is undeniable that now you speak the truth," returned
the scout, betraying more anxiety than was usual; "yet what
can be done? A single suspicious look might bring on an
attack before we are ready to receive it. He knows, by the
call I gave to Uncas, that we have struck a scent; I will
tell him that we are on the trail of the Mingoes; his Indian
nature will teach him how to act."
The scout applied his fingers to his mouth, and raised a low
hissing sound, that caused Duncan at first to start aside,
believing that he heard a serpent. The head of Chingachgook
was resting on a hand, as he sat musing by himself but the
moment he had heard the warning of the animal whose name he
bore, he arose to an upright position, and his dark eyes
glanced swiftly and keenly on every side of him. With his
sudden and, perhaps, involuntary movement, every appearance
of surprise or alarm ended. His rifle lay untouched, and
apparently unnoticed, within reach of his hand. The
tomahawk that he had loosened in his belt for the sake of
ease, was even suffered to fall from its usual situation to
the ground, and his form seemed to sink, like that of a man
whose nerves and sinews were suffered to relax for the
purpose of rest. Cunningly resuming his former position,
though with a change of hands, as if the movement had been
made merely to relieve the limb, the native awaited the
result with a calmness and fortitude that none but an Indian
warrior would have known how to exercise.
But Heyward saw that while to a less instructed eye the
Mohican chief appeared to slumber, his nostrils were
expanded, his head was turned a little to one side, as if to
assist the organs of hearing, and that his quick and rapid
glances ran incessantly over every object within the power
of his vision.
"See the noble fellow!" whispered Hawkeye, pressing the arm
of Heyward; "he knows that a look or a motion might
disconsart our schemes, and put us at the mercy of them imps --"
He was interrupted by the flash and report of a rifle. The
air was filled with sparks of fire, around that spot where
the eyes of Heyward were still fastened, with admiration and
wonder. A second look told him that Chingachgook had
disappeared in the confusion. In the meantime, the scout
had thrown forward his rifle, like one prepared for service,
and awaited impatiently the moment when an enemy might rise
to view. But with the solitary and fruitless attempt made
on the life of Chingachgook, the attack appeared to have
terminated. Once or twice the listeners thought they could
distinguish the distant rustling of bushes, as bodies of
some unknown description rushed through them; nor was it
long before Hawkeye pointed out the "scampering of the
wolves," as they fled precipitately before the passage of
some intruder on their proper domains. After an impatient
and breathless pause, a plunge was heard in the water, and
it was immediately followed by the report of another rifle.
"There goes Uncas!" said the scout; "the boy bears a smart
piece! I know its crack, as well as a father knows the
language of his child, for I carried the gun myself until a
"What can this mean?" demanded Duncan, "we are watched, and,
as it would seem, marked for destruction."
"Yonder scattered brand can witness that no good was
intended, and this Indian will testify that no harm has been
done," returned the scout, dropping his rifle across his arm
again, and following Chingachgook, who just then reappeared
within the circle of light, into the bosom of the work.
"How is it, Sagamore? Are the Mingoes upon us in earnest,
or is it only one of those reptiles who hang upon the skirts
of a war-party, to scalp the dead, go in, and make their
boast among the squaws of the valiant deeds done on the pale
Chingachgook very quietly resumed his seat; nor did he make
any reply, until after he had examined the firebrand which
had been struck by the bullet that had nearly proved fatal
to himself. After which he was content to reply, holding a
single finger up to view, with the English monosyllable:
"I thought as much," returned Hawkeye, seating himself; "and
as he had got the cover of the lake afore Uncas pulled upon
him, it is more than probable the knave will sing his lies
about some great ambushment, in which he was outlying on the
trail of two Mohicans and a white hunter -- for the officers
can be considered as little better than idlers in such a
scrimmage. Well, let him -- let him. There are always some
honest men in every nation, though heaven knows, too, that
they are scarce among the Maquas, to look down an upstart
when he brags ag'in the face of reason. The varlet sent his
lead within whistle of your ears, Sagamore."
Chingachgook turned a calm and incurious eye toward the
place where the ball had struck, and then resumed his former
attitude, with a composure that could not be disturbed by so
trifling an incident. Just then Uncas glided into the
circle, and seated himself at the fire, with the same
appearance of indifference as was maintained by his father.
Of these several moments Heyward was a deeply interested and
wondering observer. It appeared to him as though the
foresters had some secret means of intelligence, which had
escaped the vigilance of his own faculties. In place of
that eager and garrulous narration with which a white youth
would have endeavored to communicate, and perhaps
exaggerate, that which had passed out in the darkness of the
plain, the young warrior was seemingly content to let his
deeds speak for themselves. It was, in fact, neither the
moment nor the occasion for an Indian to boast of his
exploits; and it is probably that, had Heyward neglected to
inquire, not another syllable would, just then, have been
uttered on the subject.
"What has become of our enemy, Uncas?" demanded Duncan; "we
heard your rifle, and hoped you had not fired in vain."
The young chief removed a fold of his hunting skirt, and
quietly exposed the fatal tuft of hair, which he bore as the
symbol of victory. Chingachgook laid his hand on the scalp,
and considered it for a moment with deep attention. Then
dropping it, with disgust depicted in his strong features,
"Oneida!" repeated the scout, who was fast losing his
interest in the scene, in an apathy nearly assimilated to
that of his red associates, but who now advanced in uncommon
earnestness to regard the bloody badge. "By the Lord, if
the Oneidas are outlying upon the trail, we shall by flanked
by devils on every side of us! Now, to white eyes there is
no difference between this bit of skin and that of any other
Indian, and yet the Sagamore declares it came from the poll
of a Mingo; nay, he even names the tribe of the poor devil,
with as much ease as if the scalp was the leaf of a book,
and each hair a letter. What right have Christian whites to
boast of their learning, when a savage can read a language
that would prove too much for the wisest of them all! What
say you, lad, of what people was the knave?"
Uncas raised his eyes to the face of the scout, and
answered, in his soft voice:
"Oneida, again! when one Indian makes a declaration it is
commonly true; but when he is supported by his people, set
it down as gospel!"
"The poor fellow has mistaken us for French," said Heyward;
"or he would not have attempted the life of a friend."
"He mistake a Mohican in his paint for a Huron! You would
be as likely to mistake the white-coated grenadiers of
Montcalm for the scarlet jackets of the Royal Americans,"
returned the scout. "No, no, the sarpent knew his errand;
nor was there any great mistake in the matter, for there is
but little love atween a Delaware and a Mingo, let their
tribes go out to fight for whom they may, in a white
quarrel. For that matter, though the Oneidas do serve his
sacred majesty, who is my sovereign lord and master, I
should not have deliberated long about letting off
'killdeer' at the imp myself, had luck thrown him in my
"That would have been an abuse of our treaties, and unworthy
of your character."
"When a man consort much with a people," continued Hawkeye,
"if they were honest and he no knave, love will grow up
atwixt them. It is true that white cunning has managed to
throw the tribes into great confusion, as respects friends
and enemies; so that the Hurons and the Oneidas, who speak
the same tongue, or what may be called the same, take each
other's scalps, and the Delawares are divided among
themselves; a few hanging about their great council-fire on
their own river, and fighting on the same side with the
Mingoes while the greater part are in the Canadas, out of
natural enmity to the Maquas -- thus throwing everything
into disorder, and destroying all the harmony of warfare.
Yet a red natur' is not likely to alter with every shift of
policy; so that the love atwixt a Mohican and a Mingo is
much like the regard between a white man and a sarpent."
"I regret to hear it; for I had believed those natives who
dwelt within our boundaries had found us too just and
liberal, not to identify themselves fully with our
"Why, I believe it is natur' to give a preference to one's
own quarrels before those of strangers. Now, for myself, I
do love justice; and, therefore, I will not say I hate a
Mingo, for that may be unsuitable to my color and my
religion, though I will just repeat, it may have been owing
to the night that 'killdeer' had no hand in the death of
this skulking Oneida."
Then, as if satisfied with the force of his own reasons,
whatever might be their effect on the opinions of the other
disputant, the honest but implacable woodsman turned from
the fire, content to let the controversy slumber. Heyward
withdrew to the rampart, too uneasy and too little
accustomed to the warfare of the woods to remain at ease
under the possibility of such insidious attacks. Not so,
however, with the scout and the Mohicans. Those acute and
long-practised senses, whose powers so often exceed the
limits of all ordinary credulity, after having detected the
danger, had enabled them to ascertain its magnitude and
duration. Not one of the three appeared in the least to
doubt their perfect security, as was indicated by the
preparations that were soon made to sit in council over
their future proceedings.
The confusion of nations, and even of tribes, to which
Hawkeye alluded, existed at that period in the fullest
force. The great tie of language, and, of course, of a
common origin, was severed in many places; and it was one of
its consequences, that the Delaware and the Mingo (as the
people of the Six Nations were called) were found fighting
in the same ranks, while the latter sought the scalp of the
Huron, though believed to be the root of his own stock. The
Delawares were even divided among themselves. Though love
for the soil which had belonged to his ancestors kept the
Sagamore of the Mohicans with a small band of followers who
were serving at Edward, under the banners of the English
king, by far the largest portion of his nation were known to
be in the field as allies of Montcalm. The reader probably
knows, if enough has not already been gleaned form this
narrative, that the Delaware, or Lenape, claimed to be the
progenitors of that numerous people, who once were masters
of most of the eastern and northern states of America, of
whom the community of the Mohicans was an ancient and highly
It was, of course, with a perfect understanding of the
minute and intricate interests which had armed friend
against friend, and brought natural enemies to combat by
each other's side, that the scout and his companions now
disposed themselves to deliberate on the measures that were
to govern their future movements, amid so many jarring and
savage races of men. Duncan knew enough of Indian customs
to understand the reason that the fire was replenished, and
why the warriors, not excepting Hawkeye, took their seats
within the curl of its smoke with so much gravity and
decorum. Placing himself at an angle of the works, where he
might be a spectator of the scene without, he awaited the
result with as much patience as he could summon.
After a short and impressive pause, Chingachgook lighted a
pipe whose bowl was curiously carved in one of the soft
stones of the country, and whose stem was a tube of wood,
and commenced smoking. When he had inhaled enough of the
fragrance of the soothing weed, he passed the instrument
into the hands of the scout. In this manner the pipe had
made its rounds three several times, amid the most profound
silence, before either of the party opened his lips. Then
the Sagamore, as the oldest and highest in rank, in a few
calm and dignified words, proposed the subject for
deliberation. He was answered by the scout; and
Chingachgook rejoined, when the other objected to his
opinions. But the youthful Uncas continued a silent and
respectful listener, until Hawkeye, in complaisance,
demanded his opinion. Heyward gathered from the manners of
the different speakers, that the father and son espoused one
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