The Last of the Mohicans
James Fenimore Cooper
Part 7 out of 9
success in the hazardous race he was about to run.
Insensibly the young man drew nigher to the swarthy lines of
the Hurons, and scarcely breathed, so intense became his
interest in the spectacle. Just then the signal yell was
given, and the momentary quiet which had preceded it was
broken by a burst of cries, that far exceeded any before
heard. The more abject of the two victims continued
motionless; but the other bounded from the place at the cry,
with the activity and swiftness of a deer. Instead of
rushing through the hostile lines, as had been expected, he
just entered the dangerous defile, and before time was given
for a single blow, turned short, and leaping the heads of a
row of children, he gained at once the exterior and safer
side of the formidable array. The artifice was answered by
a hundred voices raised in imprecations; and the whole of
the excited multitude broke from their order, and spread
themselves about the place in wild confusion.
A dozen blazing piles now shed their lurid brightness on the
place, which resembled some unhallowed and supernatural
arena, in which malicious demons had assembled to act their
bloody and lawless rites. The forms in the background
looked like unearthly beings, gliding before the eye, and
cleaving the air with frantic and unmeaning gestures; while
the savage passions of such as passed the flames were
rendered fearfully distinct by the gleams that shot athwart
their inflamed visages.
It will easily be understood that, amid such a concourse of
vindictive enemies, no breathing time was allowed the
fugitive. There was a single moment when it seemed as if he
would have reached the forest, but the whole body of his
captors threw themselves before him, and drove him back into
the center of his relentless persecutors. Turning like a
headed deer, he shot, with the swiftness of an arrow,
through a pillar of forked flame, and passing the whole
multitude harmless, he appeared on the opposite side of the
clearing. Here, too, he was met and turned by a few of the
older and more subtle of the Hurons. Once more he tried the
throng, as if seeking safety in its blindness, and then
several moments succeeded, during which Duncan believed the
active and courageous young stranger was lost.
Nothing could be distinguished but a dark mass of human
forms tossed and involved in inexplicable confusion. Arms,
gleaming knives, and formidable clubs, appeared above them,
but the blows were evidently given at random. The awful
effect was heightened by the piercing shrieks of the women
and the fierce yells of the warriors. Now and then Duncan
caught a glimpse of a light form cleaving the air in some
desperate bound, and he rather hoped than believed that the
captive yet retained the command of his astonishing powers
of activity. Suddenly the multitude rolled backward, and
approached the spot where he himself stood. The heavy body
in the rear pressed upon the women and children in front,
and bore them to the earth. The stranger reappeared in the
confusion. Human power could not, however, much longer
endure so severe a trial. Of this the captive seemed
conscious. Profiting by the momentary opening, he darted
from among the warriors, and made a desperate, and what
seemed to Duncan a final effort to gain the wood. As if
aware that no danger was to be apprehended from the young
soldier, the fugitive nearly brushed his person in his
flight. A tall and powerful Huron, who had husbanded his
forces, pressed close upon his heels, and with an uplifted
arm menaced a fatal blow. Duncan thrust forth a foot, and
the shock precipitated the eager savage headlong, many feet
in advance of his intended victim. Thought itself is not
quicker than was the motion with which the latter profited
by the advantage; he turned, gleamed like a meteor again
before the eyes of Duncan, and, at the next moment, when the
latter recovered his recollection, and gazed around in quest
of the captive, he saw him quietly leaning against a small
painted post, which stood before the door of the principal
Apprehensive that the part he had taken in the escape might
prove fatal to himself, Duncan left the place without delay.
He followed the crowd, which drew nigh the lodges, gloomy
and sullen, like any other multitude that had been
disappointed in an execution. Curiosity, or perhaps a
better feeling, induced him to approach the stranger. He
found him, standing with one arm cast about the protecting
post, and breathing thick and hard, after his exertions, but
disdaining to permit a single sign of suffering to escape.
His person was now protected by immemorial and sacred usage,
until the tribe in council had deliberated and determined on
his fate. It was not difficult, however, to foretell the
result, if any presage could be drawn from the feelings of
those who crowded the place.
There was no term of abuse known to the Huron vocabulary
that the disappointed women did not lavishly expend on the
successful stranger. They flouted at his efforts, and told
him, with bitter scoffs, that his feet were better than his
hands; and that he merited wings, while he knew not the use
of an arrow or a knife. To all this the captive made no
reply; but was content to preserve an attitude in which
dignity was singularly blended with disdain. Exasperated as
much by his composure as by his good-fortune, their words
became unintelligible, and were succeeded by shrill,
piercing yells. Just then the crafty squaw, who had taken
the necessary precaution to fire the piles, made her way
through the throng, and cleared a place for herself in front
of the captive. The squalid and withered person of this hag
might well have obtained for her the character of possessing
more than human cunning. Throwing back her light vestment,
she stretched forth her long, skinny arm, in derision, and
using the language of the Lenape, as more intelligible to
the subject of her gibes, she commenced aloud:
"Look you, Delaware," she said, snapping her fingers in his
face; "your nation is a race of women, and the hoe is better
fitted to your hands than the gun. Your squaws are the
mothers of deer; but if a bear, or a wildcat, or a serpent
were born among you, ye would flee. The Huron girls shall
make you petticoats, and we will find you a husband."
A burst of savage laughter succeeded this attack, during
which the soft and musical merriment of the younger females
strangely chimed with the cracked voice of their older and
more malignant companion. But the stranger was superior to
all their efforts. His head was immovable; nor did he
betray the slightest consciousness that any were present,
except when his haughty eye rolled toward the dusky forms of
the warriors, who stalked in the background silent and
sullen observers of the scene.
Infuriated at the self-command of the captive, the woman
placed her arms akimbo; and, throwing herself into a posture
of defiance, she broke out anew, in a torrent of words that
no art of ours could commit successfully to paper. Her
breath was, however, expended in vain; for, although
distinguished in her nation as a proficient in the art of
abuse, she was permitted to work herself into such a fury as
actually to foam at the mouth, without causing a muscle to
vibrate in the motionless figure of the stranger. The
effect of his indifference began to extend itself to the
other spectators; and a youngster, who was just quitting the
condition of a boy to enter the state of manhood, attempted
to assist the termagant, by flourishing his tomahawk before
their victim, and adding his empty boasts to the taunts of
the women. Then, indeed, the captive turned his face toward
the light, and looked down on the stripling with an
expression that was superior to contempt. At the next
moment he resumed his quiet and reclining attitude against
the post. But the change of posture had permitted Duncan to
exchange glances with the firm and piercing eyes of Uncas.
Breathless with amazement, and heavily oppressed with the
critical situation of his friend, Heyward recoiled before
the look, trembling lest its meaning might, in some unknown
manner, hasten the prisoner's fate. There was not, however,
any instant cause for such an apprehension. Just then a
warrior forced his way into the exasperated crowd.
Motioning the women and children aside with a stern gesture,
he took Uncas by the arm, and led him toward the door of the
council-lodge. Thither all the chiefs, and most of the
distinguished warriors, followed; among whom the anxious
Heyward found means to enter without attracting any
dangerous attention to himself.
A few minutes were consumed in disposing of those present in
a manner suitable to their rank and influence in the tribe.
An order very similar to that adopted in the preceding
interview was observed; the aged and superior chiefs
occupying the area of the spacious apartment, within the
powerful light of a glaring torch, while their juniors and
inferiors were arranged in the background, presenting a dark
outline of swarthy and marked visages. In the very center
of the lodge, immediately under an opening that admitted the
twinkling light of one or two stars, stood Uncas, calm,
elevated, and collected. His high and haughty carriage was
not lost on his captors, who often bent their looks on his
person, with eyes which, while they lost none of their
inflexibility of purpose, plainly betrayed their admiration
of the stranger's daring.
The case was different with the individual whom Duncan had
observed to stand forth with his friend, previously to the
desperate trial of speed; and who, instead of joining in the
chase, had remained, throughout its turbulent uproar, like a
cringing statue, expressive of shame and disgrace. Though
not a hand had been extended to greet him, nor yet an eye
had condescended to watch his movements, he had also entered
the lodge, as though impelled by a fate to whose decrees he
submitted, seemingly, without a struggle. Heyward profited
by the first opportunity to gaze in his face, secretly
apprehensive he might find the features of another
acquaintance; but they proved to be those of a stranger,
and, what was still more inexplicable, of one who bore all
the distinctive marks of a Huron warrior. Instead of
mingling with his tribe, however, he sat apart, a solitary
being in a multitude, his form shrinking into a crouching
and abject attitude, as if anxious to fill as little space
as possible. When each individual had taken his proper
station, and silence reigned in the place, the gray-haired
chief already introduced to the reader, spoke aloud, in the
language of the Lenni Lenape.
"Delaware," he said, "though one of a nation of women, you
have proved yourself a man. I would give you food; but he
who eats with a Huron should become his friend. Rest in
peace till the morning sun, when our last words shall be
"Seven nights, and as many summer days, have I fasted on the
trail of the Hurons," Uncas coldly replied; "the children of
the Lenape know how to travel the path of the just without
lingering to eat."
"Two of my young men are in pursuit of your companion,"
resumed the other, without appearing to regard the boast of
his captive; "when they get back, then will our wise man say
to you 'live' or 'die'."
"Has a Huron no ears?" scornfully exclaimed Uncas; "twice,
since he has been your prisoner, has the Delaware heard a
gun that he knows. Your young men will never come back!"
A short and sullen pause succeeded this bold assertion.
Duncan, who understood the Mohican to allude to the fatal
rifle of the scout, bent forward in earnest observation of
the effect it might produce on the conquerors; but the chief
was content with simply retorting:
"If the Lenape are so skillful, why is one of their bravest
"He followed in the steps of a flying coward, and fell into
a snare. The cunning beaver may be caught."
As Uncas thus replied, he pointed with his finger toward the
solitary Huron, but without deigning to bestow any other
notice on so unworthy an object. The words of the answer
and the air of the speaker produced a strong sensation among
his auditors. Every eye rolled sullenly toward the
individual indicated by the simple gesture, and a low,
threatening murmur passed through the crowd. The ominous
sounds reached the outer door, and the women and children
pressing into the throng, no gap had been left, between
shoulder and shoulder, that was not now filled with the dark
lineaments of some eager and curious human countenance.
In the meantime, the more aged chiefs, in the center,
communed with each other in short and broken sentences. Not
a word was uttered that did not convey the meaning of the
speaker, in the simplest and most energetic form. Again, a
long and deeply solemn pause took place. It was known, by
all present, to be the brave precursor of a weighty and
important judgment. They who composed the outer circle of
faces were on tiptoe to gaze; and even the culprit for an
instant forgot his shame in a deeper emotion, and exposed
his abject features, in order to cast an anxious and
troubled glance at the dark assemblage of chiefs. The
silence was finally broken by the aged warrior so often
named. He arose from the earth, and moving past the
immovable form of Uncas, placed himself in a dignified
attitude before the offender. At that moment, the withered
squaw already mentioned moved into the circle, in a slow,
sidling sort of a dance, holding the torch, and muttering
the indistinct words of what might have been a species of
incantation. Though her presence was altogether an
intrusion, it was unheeded.
Approaching Uncas, she held the blazing brand in such a
manner as to cast its red glare on his person, and to expose
the slightest emotion of his countenance. The Mohican
maintained his firm and haughty attitude; and his eyes, so
far from deigning to meet her inquisitive look, dwelt
steadily on the distance, as though it penetrated the
obstacles which impeded the view and looked into futurity.
Satisfied with her examination, she left him, with a slight
expression of pleasure, and proceeded to practise the same
trying experiment on her delinquent countryman.
The young Huron was in his war paint, and very little of a
finely molded form was concealed by his attire. The light
rendered every limb and joint discernible, and Duncan turned
away in horror when he saw they were writhing in
irrepressible agony. The woman was commencing a low and
plaintive howl at the sad and shameful spectacle, when the
chief put forth his hand and gently pushed her aside.
"Reed-that-bends," he said, addressing the young culprit by
name, and in his proper language, "though the Great Spirit
has made you pleasant to the eyes, it would have been better
that you had not been born. Your tongue is loud in the
village, but in battle it is still. None of my young men
strike the tomahawk deeper into the war- post -- none of
them so lightly on the Yengeese. The enemy know the shape
of your back, but they have never seen the color of your
eyes. Three times have they called on you to come, and as
often did you forget to answer. Your name will never be
mentioned again in your tribe -- it is already forgotten."
As the chief slowly uttered these words, pausing
impressively between each sentence, the culprit raised his
face, in deference to the other's rank and years. Shame,
horror, and pride struggled in its lineaments. His eye,
which was contracted with inward anguish, gleamed on the
persons of those whose breath was his fame; and the latter
emotion for an instant predominated. He arose to his feet,
and baring his bosom, looked steadily on the keen,
glittering knife, that was already upheld by his inexorable
judge. As the weapon passed slowly into his heart he even
smiled, as if in joy at having found death less dreadful
than he had anticipated, and fell heavily on his face, at
the feet of the rigid and unyielding form of Uncas.
The squaw gave a loud and plaintive yell, dashed the torch
to the earth, and buried everything in darkness. The whole
shuddering group of spectators glided from the lodge like
troubled sprites; and Duncan thought that he and the yet
throbbing body of the victim of an Indian judgment had now
become its only tenants.
"Thus spoke the sage: the kings without delay Dissolve the
council, and their chief obey."--Pope's Iliad
A single moment served to convince the youth that he was
mistaken. A hand was laid, with a powerful pressure, on his
arm, and the low voice of Uncas muttered in his ear:
"The Hurons are dogs. The sight of a coward's blood can
never make a warrior tremble. The 'Gray Head' and the
Sagamore are safe, and the rifle of Hawkeye is not asleep.
Go -- Uncas and the 'Open Hand' are now strangers. It is
Heyward would gladly have heard more, but a gentle push from
his friend urged him toward the door, and admonished him of
the danger that might attend the discovery of their
intercourse. Slowly and reluctantly yielding to the
necessity, he quitted the place, and mingled with the throng
that hovered nigh. The dying fires in the clearing cast a
dim and uncertain light on the dusky figures that were
silently stalking to and fro; and occasionally a brighter
gleam than common glanced into the lodge, and exhibited the
figure of Uncas still maintaining its upright attitude near
the dead body of the Huron.
A knot of warriors soon entered the place again, and
reissuing, they bore the senseless remains into the adjacent
woods. After this termination of the scene, Duncan wandered
among the lodges, unquestioned and unnoticed, endeavoring to
find some trace of her in whose behalf he incurred the risk
he ran. In the present temper of the tribe it would have
been easy to have fled and rejoined his companions, had such
a wish crossed his mind. But, in addition to the never-ceasing
anxiety on account of Alice, a fresher though feebler interest
in the fate of Uncas assisted to chain him to the spot. He
continued, therefore, to stray from hut to hut, looking into
each only to encounter additional disappointment, until he had
made the entire circuit of the village. Abandoning a species of
inquiry that proved so fruitless, he retraced his steps to the
council-lodge, resolved to seek and question David, in order to
put an end to his doubts.
On reaching the building, which had proved alike the seat of
judgment and the place of execution, the young man found
that the excitement had already subsided. The warriors had
reassembled, and were now calmly smoking, while they
conversed gravely on the chief incidents of their recent
expedition to the head of the Horican. Though the return of
Duncan was likely to remind them of his character, and the
suspicious circumstances of his visit, it produced no
visible sensation. So far, the terrible scene that had just
occurred proved favorable to his views, and he required no
other prompter than his own feelings to convince him of the
expediency of profiting by so unexpected an advantage.
Without seeming to hesitate, he walked into the lodge, and
took his seat with a gravity that accorded admirably with
the deportment of his hosts. A hasty but searching glance
sufficed to tell him that, though Uncas still remained where
he had left him, David had not reappeared. No other
restraint was imposed on the former than the watchful looks
of a young Huron, who had placed himself at hand; though an
armed warrior leaned against the post that formed one side
of the narrow doorway. In every other respect, the captive
seemed at liberty; still he was excluded from all
participation in the discourse, and possessed much more of
the air of some finely molded statue than a man having life
Heyward had too recently witnessed a frightful instance of
the prompt punishments of the people into whose hands he had
fallen to hazard an exposure by any officious boldness. He
would greatly have preferred silence and meditation to
speech, when a discovery of his real condition might prove
so instantly fatal. Unfortunately for this prudent
resolution, his entertainers appeared otherwise disposed.
He had not long occupied the seat wisely taken a little in
the shade, when another of the elder warriors, who spoke the
French language, addressed him:
"My Canada father does not forget his children," said the
chief; "I thank him. An evil spirit lives in the wife of
one of my young men. Can the cunning stranger frighten him
Heyward possessed some knowledge of the mummery practised
among the Indians, in the cases of such supposed
visitations. He saw, at a glance, that the circumstance
might possibly be improved to further his own ends. It
would, therefore, have been difficult, just then to have
uttered a proposal that would have given him more
satisfaction. Aware of the necessity of preserving the
dignity of his imaginary character, however, he repressed
his feelings, and answered with suitable mystery:
"Spirits differ; some yield to the power of wisdom, while
others are too strong."
"My brother is a great medicine," said the cunning savage;
"he will try?"
A gesture of assent was the answer. The Huron was content
with the assurance, and, resuming his pipe, he awaited the
proper moment to move. The impatient Heyward, inwardly
execrating the cold customs of the savages, which required
such sacrifices to appearance, was fain to assume an air of
indifference, equal to that maintained by the chief, who
was, in truth, a near relative of the afflicted woman. The
minutes lingered, and the delay had seemed an hour to the
adventurer in empiricism, when the Huron laid aside his pipe
and drew his robe across his breast, as if about to lead the
way to the lodge of the invalid. Just then, a warrior of
powerful frame, darkened the door, and stalking silently
among the attentive group, he seated himself on one end of
the low pile of brush which sustained Duncan. The latter
cast an impatient look at his neighbor, and felt his flesh
creep with uncontrollable horror when he found himself in
actual contact with Magua.
The sudden return of this artful and dreaded chief caused a
delay in the departure of the Huron. Several pipes, that
had been extinguished, were lighted again; while the
newcomer, without speaking a word, drew his tomahawk from
his girdle, and filling the bowl on its head began to inhale
the vapors of the weed through the hollow handle, with as
much indifference as if he had not been absent two weary
days on a long and toilsome hunt. Ten minutes, which
appeared so many ages to Duncan, might have passed in this
manner; and the warriors were fairly enveloped in a cloud of
white smoke before any of them spoke.
"Welcome!" one at length uttered; "has my friend found the
"The young men stagger under their burdens," returned Magua.
"Let 'Reed-that-bends' go on the hunting path; he will meet
A deep and awful silence succeeded the utterance of the
forbidden name. Each pipe dropped from the lips of its
owner as though all had inhaled an impurity at the same
instant. The smoke wreathed above their heads in little
eddies, and curling in a spiral form it ascended swiftly
through the opening in the roof of the lodge, leaving the
place beneath clear of its fumes, and each dark visage
distinctly visible. The looks of most of the warriors were
riveted on the earth; though a few of the younger and less
gifted of the party suffered their wild and glaring eyeballs
to roll in the direction of a white-headed savage, who sat
between two of the most venerated chiefs of the tribe.
There was nothing in the air or attire of this Indian that
would seem to entitle him to such a distinction. The former
was rather depressed, than remarkable for the bearing of the
natives; and the latter was such as was commonly worn by the
ordinary men of the nation. Like most around him for more
than a minute his look, too, was on the ground; but,
trusting his eyes at length to steal a glance aside, he
perceived that he was becoming an object of general
attention. Then he arose and lifted his voice in the
"It was a lie," he said; "I had no son. He who was called
by that name is forgotten; his blood was pale, and it came
not from the veins of a Huron; the wicked Chippewas cheated
my squaw. The Great Spirit has said, that the family of
Wiss-entush should end; he is happy who knows that the evil
of his race dies with himself. I have done."
The speaker, who was the father of the recreant young
Indian, looked round and about him, as if seeking
commendation of his stoicism in the eyes of the auditors.
But the stern customs of his people had made too severe an
exaction of the feeble old man. The expression of his eye
contradicted his figurative and boastful language, while
every muscle in his wrinkled visage was working with
anguish. Standing a single minute to enjoy his bitter
triumph, he turned away, as if sickening at the gaze of men,
and, veiling his face in his blanket, he walked from the
lodge with the noiseless step of an Indian seeking, in the
privacy of his own abode, the sympathy of one like himself,
aged, forlorn and childless.
The Indians, who believe in the hereditary transmission of
virtues and defects in character, suffered him to depart in
silence. Then, with an elevation of breeding that many in a
more cultivated state of society might profitably emulate,
one of the chiefs drew the attention of the young men from
the weakness they had just witnessed, by saying, in a
cheerful voice, addressing himself in courtesy to Magua, as
the newest comer:
"The Delawares have been like bears after the honey pots,
prowling around my village. But who has ever found a Huron
The darkness of the impending cloud which precedes a burst
of thunder was not blacker than the brow of Magua as he
"The Delawares of the Lakes!"
"Not so. They who wear the petticoats of squaws, on their
own river. One of them has been passing the tribe."
"Did my young men take his scalp?"
"His legs were good, though his arm is better for the hoe
than the tomahawk," returned the other, pointing to the
immovable form of Uncas.
Instead of manifesting any womanish curiosity to feast his
eyes with the sight of a captive from a people he was known
to have so much reason to hate, Magua continued to smoke,
with the meditative air that he usually maintained, when
there was no immediate call on his cunning or his eloquence.
Although secretly amazed at the facts communicated by the
speech of the aged father, he permitted himself to ask no
questions, reserving his inquiries for a more suitable
moment. It was only after a sufficient interval that he
shook the ashes from his pipe, replaced the tomahawk,
tightened his girdle, and arose, casting for the first time
a glance in the direction of the prisoner, who stood a
little behind him. The wary, though seemingly abstracted
Uncas, caught a glimpse of the movement, and turning
suddenly to the light, their looks met. Near a minute these
two bold and untamed spirits stood regarding one another
steadily in the eye, neither quailing in the least before
the fierce gaze he encountered. The form of Uncas dilated,
and his nostrils opened like those of a tiger at bay; but so
rigid and unyielding was his posture, that he might easily
have been converted by the imagination into an exquisite and
faultless representation of the warlike deity of his tribe.
The lineaments of the quivering features of Magua proved
more ductile; his countenance gradually lost its character
of defiance in an expression of ferocious joy, and heaving a
breath from the very bottom of his chest, he pronounced
aloud the formidable name of:
"Le Cerf Agile!"
Each warrior sprang upon his feet at the utterance of the
well-known appellation, and there was a short period during
which the stoical constancy of the natives was completely
conquered by surprise. The hated and yet respected name was
repeated as by one voice, carrying the sound even beyond the
limits of the lodge. The women and children, who lingered
around the entrance, took up the words in an echo, which was
succeeded by another shrill and plaintive howl. The latter
was not yet ended, when the sensation among the men had
entirely abated. Each one in presence seated himself, as
though ashamed of his precipitation; but it was many minutes
before their meaning eyes ceased to roll toward their
captive, in curious examination of a warrior who had so
often proved his prowess on the best and proudest of their
nation. Uncas enjoyed his victory, but was content with
merely exhibiting his triumph by a quiet smile -- an emblem
of scorn which belongs to all time and every nation.
Magua caught the expression, and raising his arm, he shook
it at the captive, the light silver ornaments attached to
his bracelet rattling with the trembling agitation of the
limb, as, in a tone of vengeance, he exclaimed, in English:
"Mohican, you die!"
"The healing waters will never bring the dead Hurons to
life," returned Uncas, in the music of the Delawares; "the
tumbling river washes their bones; their men are squaws:
their women owls. Go! call together the Huron dogs, that
they may look upon a warrior, My nostrils are offended; they
scent the blood of a coward."
The latter allusion struck deep, and the injury rankled.
Many of the Hurons understood the strange tongue in which
the captive spoke, among which number was Magua. This
cunning savage beheld, and instantly profited by his
advantage. Dropping the light robe of skin from his
shoulder, he stretched forth his arm, and commenced a burst
of his dangerous and artful eloquence. However much his
influence among his people had been impaired by his
occasional and besetting weakness, as well as by his
desertion of the tribe, his courage and his fame as an
orator were undeniable. He never spoke without auditors,
and rarely without making converts to his opinions. On the
present occasion, his native powers were stimulated by the
thirst of revenge.
He again recounted the events of the attack on the island at
Glenn's, the death of his associates and the escape of their
most formidable enemies. Then he described the nature and
position of the mount whither he had led such captives as
had fallen into their hands. Of his own bloody intentions
toward the maidens, and of his baffled malice he made no
mention, but passed rapidly on to the surprise of the party
by "La Longue Carabine," and its fatal termination. Here he
paused, and looked about him, in affected veneration for the
departed, but, in truth, to note the effect of his opening
narrative. As usual, every eye was riveted on his face.
Each dusky figure seemed a breathing statue, so motionless
was the posture, so intense the attention of the individual.
Then Magua dropped his voice which had hitherto been clear,
strong and elevated, and touched upon the merits of the
dead. No quality that was likely to command the sympathy of
an Indian escaped his notice. One had never been known to
follow the chase in vain; another had been indefatigable on
the trail of their enemies. This was brave, that generous.
In short, he so managed his allusions, that in a nation
which was composed of so few families, he contrived to
strike every chord that might find, in its turn, some breast
in which to vibrate.
"Are the bones of my young men," he concluded, "in the
burial-place of the Hurons? You know they are not. Their
spirits are gone toward the setting sun, and are already
crossing the great waters, to the happy hunting-grounds.
But they departed without food, without guns or knives,
without moccasins, naked and poor as they were born. Shall
this be? Are their souls to enter the land of the just like
hungry Iroquois or unmanly Delawares, or shall they meet
their friends with arms in their hands and robes on their
backs? What will our fathers think the tribes of the
Wyandots have become? They will look on their children with
a dark eye, and say, 'Go! a Chippewa has come hither with
the name of a Huron.' Brothers, we must not forget the dead;
a red-skin never ceases to remember. We will load the back
of this Mohican until he staggers under our bounty, and
dispatch him after my young men. They call to us for aid,
though our ears are not open; they say, 'Forget us not.' When
they see the spirit of this Mohican toiling after them with
his burden, they will know we are of that mind. Then will
they go on happy; and our children will say, 'So did our
fathers to their friends, so must we do to them.' What is a
Yengee? we have slain many, but the earth is still pale. A
stain on the name of Huron can only be hid by blood that
comes from the veins of an Indian. Let this Delaware die."
The effect of such an harangue, delivered in the nervous
language and with the emphatic manner of a Huron orator,
could scarcely be mistaken. Magua had so artfully blended
the natural sympathies with the religious superstition of
his auditors, that their minds, already prepared by custom
to sacrifice a victim to the manes of their countrymen, lost
every vestige of humanity in a wish for revenge. One
warrior in particular, a man of wild and ferocious mien, had
been conspicuous for the attention he had given to the words
of the speaker. His countenance had changed with each
passing emotion, until it settled into a look of deadly
malice. As Magua ended he arose and, uttering the yell of a
demon, his polished little axe was seen glancing in the
torchlight as he whirled it above his head. The motion and
the cry were too sudden for words to interrupt his bloody
intention. It appeared as if a bright gleam shot from his
hand, which was crossed at the same moment by a dark and
powerful line. The former was the tomahawk in its passage;
the latter the arm that Magua darted forward to divert its
aim. The quick and ready motion of the chief was not
entirely too late. The keen weapon cut the war plume from
the scalping tuft of Uncas, and passed through the frail
wall of the lodge as though it were hurled from some
Duncan had seen the threatening action, and sprang upon his
feet, with a heart which, while it leaped into his throat,
swelled with the most generous resolution in behalf of his
friend. A glance told him that the blow had failed, and
terror changed to admiration. Uncas stood still, looking
his enemy in the eye with features that seemed superior to
emotion. Marble could not be colder, calmer, or steadier
than the countenance he put upon this sudden and vindictive
attack. Then, as if pitying a want of skill which had
proved so fortunate to himself, he smiled, and muttered a
few words of contempt in his own tongue.
"No!" said Magua, after satisfying himself of the safety of
the captive; "the sun must shine on his shame; the squaws
must see his flesh tremble, or our revenge will be like the
play of boys. Go! take him where there is silence; let us
see if a Delaware can sleep at night, and in the morning
The young men whose duty it was to guard the prisoner
instantly passed their ligaments of bark across his arms,
and led him from the lodge, amid a profound and ominous
silence. It was only as the figure of Uncas stood in the
opening of the door that his firm step hesitated. There he
turned, and, in the sweeping and haughty glance that he
threw around the circle of his enemies, Duncan caught a look
which he was glad to construe into an expression that he was
not entirely deserted by hope.
Magua was content with his success, or too much occupied
with his secret purposes to push his inquiries any further.
Shaking his mantle, and folding it on his bosom, he also
quitted the place, without pursuing a subject which might
have proved so fatal to the individual at his elbow.
Notwithstanding his rising resentment, his natural firmness,
and his anxiety on behalf of Uncas, Heyward felt sensibly
relieved by the absence of so dangerous and so subtle a foe.
The excitement produced by the speech gradually subsided.
The warriors resumed their seats and clouds of smoke once
more filled the lodge. For near half an hour, not a
syllable was uttered, or scarcely a look cast aside; a grave
and meditative silence being the ordinary succession to
every scene of violence and commotion among these beings,
who were alike so impetuous and yet so self-restrained.
When the chief, who had solicited the aid of Duncan,
finished his pipe, he made a final and successful movement
toward departing. A motion of a finger was the intimation
he gave the supposed physician to follow; and passing
through the clouds of smoke, Duncad was glad, on more
accounts than one, to be able at last to breathe the pure
air of a cool and refreshing summer evening.
Instead of pursuing his way among those lodges where Heyward
had already made his unsuccessful search, his companion
turned aside, and proceeded directly toward the base of an
adjacent mountain, which overhung the temporary village. A
thicket of brush skirted its foot, and it became necessary
to proceed through a crooked and narrow path. The boys had
resumed their sports in the clearing, and were enacting a
mimic chase to the post among themselves. In order to
render their games as like the reality as possible, one of
the boldest of their number had conveyed a few brands into
some piles of tree-tops that had hitherto escaped the
burning. The blaze of one of these fires lighted the way of
the chief and Duncan, and gave a character of additional
wildness to the rude scenery. At a little distance from a
bald rock, and directly in its front, they entered a grassy
opening, which they prepared to cross. Just then fresh fuel
was added to the fire, and a powerful light penetrated even
to that distant spot. It fell upon the white surface of the
mountain, and was reflected downward upon a dark and
mysterious-looking being that arose, unexpectedly, in their
path. The Indian paused, as if doubtful whether to proceed,
and permitted his companion to approach his side. A large
black ball, which at first seemed stationary, now began to
move in a manner that to the latter was inexplicable. Again
the fire brightened and its glare fell more distinctly on
the object. Then even Duncan knew it, by its restless and
sidling attitudes, which kept the upper part of its form in
constant motion, while the animal itself appeared seated, to
be a bear. Though it growled loudly and fiercely, and there
were instants when its glistening eyeballs might be seen, it
gave no other indications of hostility. The Huron, at
least, seemed assured that the intentions of this singular
intruder were peaceable, for after giving it an attentive
examination, he quietly pursued his course.
Duncan, who knew that the animal was often domesticated
among the Indians, followed the example of his companion,
believing that some favorite of the tribe had found its way
into the thicket, in search of food. They passed it
unmolested. Though obliged to come nearly in contact with
the monster, the Huron, who had at first so warily
determined the character of his strange visitor, was now
content with proceeding without wasting a moment in further
examination; but Heyward was unable to prevent his eyes from
looking backward, in salutary watchfulness against attacks
in the rear. His uneasiness was in no degree diminished
when he perceived the beast rolling along their path, and
following their footsteps. He would have spoken, but the
Indian at that moment shoved aside a door of bark, and
entered a cavern in the bosom of the mountain.
Profiting by so easy a method of retreat, Duncan stepped
after him, and was gladly closing the slight cover to the
opening, when he felt it drawn from his hand by the beast,
whose shaggy form immediately darkened the passage. They
were now in a straight and long gallery, in a chasm of the
rocks, where retreat without encountering the animal was
impossible. Making the best of the circumstances, the young
man pressed forward, keeping as close as possible to his
conductor. The bear growled frequently at his heels, and
once or twice its enormous paws were laid on his person, as
if disposed to prevent his further passage into the den.
How long the nerves of Heyward would have sustained him in
this extraordinary situation, it might be difficult to
decide, for, happily, he soon found relief. A glimmer of
light had constantly been in their front, and they now
arrived at the place whence it proceeded.
A large cavity in the rock had been rudely fitted to answer
the purposes of many apartments. The subdivisions were
simple but ingenious, being composed of stone, sticks, and
bark, intermingled. Openings above admitted the light by
day, and at night fires and torches supplied the place of
the sun. Hither the Hurons had brought most of their
valuables, especially those which more particularly
pertained to the nation; and hither, as it now appeared, the
sick woman, who was believed to be the victim of
supernatural power, had been transported also, under an
impression that her tormentor would find more difficulty in
making his assaults through walls of stone than through the
leafy coverings of the lodges. The apartment into which
Duncan and his guide first entered, had been exclusively
devoted to her accommodation. The latter approached her
bedside, which was surrounded by females, in the center of
whom Heyward was surprised to find his missing friend David.
A single look was sufficient to apprise the pretended leech
that the invalid was far beyond his powers of healing. She
lay in a sort of paralysis, indifferent to the objects which
crowded before her sight, and happily unconscious of
suffering. Heyward was far from regretting that his
mummeries were to be performed on one who was much too ill
to take an interest in their failure or success. The slight
qualm of conscience which had been excited by the intended
deception was instantly appeased, and he began to collect
his thoughts, in order to enact his part with suitable
spirit, when he found he was about to be anticipated in his
skill by an attempt to prove the power of music.
Gamut, who had stood prepared to pour forth his spirit in
song when the visitors entered, after delaying a moment,
drew a strain from his pipe, and commenced a hymn that might
have worked a miracle, had faith in its efficacy been of much
avail. He was allowed to proceed to the close, the Indians
respecting his imaginary infirmity, and Duncan too glad of
the delay to hazard the slightest interruption. As the
dying cadence of his strains was falling on the ears of the
latter, he started aside at hearing them repeated behind
him, in a voice half human and half sepulchral. Looking
around, he beheld the shaggy monster seated on end in a
shadow of the cavern, where, while his restless body swung
in the uneasy manner of the animal, it repeated, in a sort
of low growl, sounds, if not words, which bore some slight
resemblance to the melody of the singer.
The effect of so strange an echo on David may better be
imagined than described. His eyes opened as if he doubted
their truth; and his voice became instantly mute in excess
of wonder. A deep-laid scheme, of communicating some
important intelligence to Heyward, was driven from his
recollection by an emotion which very nearly resembled fear,
but which he was fain to believe was admiration. Under its
influence, he exclaimed aloud: "She expects you, and is at
hand"; and precipitately left the cavern.
"Snug.--Have you the lion's part written? Pray you, if
it be, give it to me, for I am slow of study.
Quince.--You may do it extempore, for it is nothing
but roaring."--Midsummer Night's Dream
There was a strange blending of the ridiculous with that
which was solemn in this scene. The beast still continued
its rolling, and apparently untiring movements, though its
ludicrous attempt to imitate the melody of David ceased the
instant the latter abandoned the field. The words of Gamut
were, as has been seen, in his native tongue; and to Duncan
they seem pregnant with some hidden meaning, though nothing
present assisted him in discovering the object of their
allusion. A speedy end was, however, put to every
conjecture on the subject, by the manner of the chief, who
advanced to the bedside of the invalid, and beckoned away
the whole group of female attendants that had clustered
there to witness the skill of the stranger. He was
implicitly, though reluctantly, obeyed; and when the low
echo which rang along the hollow, natural gallery, from the
distant closing door, had ceased, pointing toward his
insensible daughter, he said:
"Now let my brother show his power."
Thus unequivocally called on to exercise the functions of
his assumed character, Heyward was apprehensive that the
smallest delay might prove dangerous. Endeavoring, then, to
collect his ideas, he prepared to perform that species of
incantation, and those uncouth rites, under which the Indian
conjurers are accustomed to conceal their ignorance and
impotency. It is more than probable that, in the disordered
state of his thoughts, he would soon have fallen into some
suspicious, if not fatal, error had not his incipient
attempts been interrupted by a fierce growl from the
quadruped. Three several times did he renew his efforts to
proceed, and as often was he met by the same unaccountable
opposition, each interruption seeming more savage and
threatening than the preceding.
"The cunning ones are jealous," said the Huron; "I go.
Brother, the woman is the wife of one of my bravest young
men; deal justly by her. Peace!" he added, beckoning to the
discontented beast to be quiet; "I go."
The chief was as good as his word, and Duncan now found
himself alone in that wild and desolate abode with the
helpless invalid and the fierce and dangerous brute. The
latter listened to the movements of the Indian with that air
of sagacity that a bear is known to possess, until another
echo announced that he had also left the cavern, when it
turned and came waddling up to Duncan before whom it seated
itself in its natural attitude, erect like a man. The youth
looked anxiously about him for some weapon, with which he
might make a resistance against the attack he now seriously
It seemed, however, as if the humor of the animal had
suddenly changed. Instead of continuing its discontented
growls, or manifesting any further signs of anger, the whole
of its shaggy body shook violently, as if agitated by some
strange internal convulsion. The huge and unwieldy talons
pawed stupidly about the grinning muzzle, and while Heyward
kept his eyes riveted on its movements with jealous
watchfulness, the grim head fell on one side and in its
place appeared the honest sturdy countenance of the scout,
who was indulging from the bottom of his soul in his own
peculiar expression of merriment.
"Hist!" said the wary woodsman, interrupting Heyward's
exclamation of surprise; "the varlets are about the place,
and any sounds that are not natural to witchcraft would
bring them back upon us in a body."
"Tell me the meaning of this masquerade; and why you have
attempted so desperate an adventure?"
"Ah, reason and calculation are often outdone by accident,"
returned the scout. "But, as a story should always commence
at the beginning, I will tell you the whole in order. After
we parted I placed the commandant and the Sagamore in an old
beaver lodge, where they are safer from the Hurons than they
would be in the garrison of Edward; for your high north-west
Indians, not having as yet got the traders among them,
continued to venerate the beaver. After which Uncas and I
pushed for the other encampment as was agreed. Have you
seen the lad?"
"To my great grief! He is captive, and condemned to die at
the rising of the sun."
"I had misgivings that such would be his fate," resumed the
scout, in a less confident and joyous tone. But soon
regaining his naturally firm voice, he continued: "His bad
fortune is the true reason of my being here, for it would
never do to abandon such a boy to the Hurons. A rare time
the knaves would have of it, could they tie 'The Bounding
Elk' and 'The Long Carabine', as they call me, to the same
stake! Though why they have given me such a name I never
knew, there being as little likeness between the gifts of
'killdeer' and the performance of one of your real Canada
carabynes, as there is between the natur' of a pipe-stone
and a flint."
"Keep to your tale," said the impatient Heyward; "we know
not at what moment the Hurons may return."
"No fear of them. A conjurer must have his time, like a
straggling priest in the settlements. We are as safe from
interruption as a missionary would be at the beginning of a
two hours' discourse. Well, Uncas and I fell in with a
return party of the varlets; the lad was much too forward
for a scout; nay, for that matter, being of hot blood, he
was not so much to blame; and, after all, one of the Hurons
proved a coward, and in fleeing led him into an ambushment."
"And dearly has he paid for the weakness."
The scout significantly passed his hand across his own
throat, and nodded, as if he said, "I comprehend your
meaning." After which he continued, in a more audible
though scarcely more intelligible language:
"After the loss of the boy I turned upon the Hurons, as you
may judge. There have been scrimmages atween one or two of
their outlyers and myself; but that is neither here nor
there. So, after I had shot the imps, I got in pretty nigh
to the lodges without further commotion. Then what should
luck do in my favor but lead me to the very spot where one
of the most famous conjurers of the tribe was dressing
himself, as I well knew, for some great battle with Satan --
though why should I call that luck, which it now seems was
an especial ordering of Providence. So a judgmatical rap
over the head stiffened the lying impostor for a time, and
leaving him a bit of walnut for his supper, to prevent an
uproar, and stringing him up atween two saplings, I made
free with his finery, and took the part of the bear on
myself, in order that the operations might proceed."
"And admirably did you enact the character; the animal
itself might have been shamed by the representation."
"Lord, major," returned the flattered woodsman, "I should be
but a poor scholar for one who has studied so long in the
wilderness, did I not know how to set forth the movements or
natur' of such a beast. Had it been now a catamount, or
even a full-size panther, I would have embellished a
performance for you worth regarding. But it is no such
marvelous feat to exhibit the feats of so dull a beast;
though, for that matter, too, a bear may be overacted. Yes,
yes; it is not every imitator that knows natur' may be
outdone easier than she is equaled. But all our work is yet
before us. Where is the gentle one?"
"Heaven knows. I have examined every lodge in the village,
without discovering the slightest trace of her presence in
"You heard what the singer said, as he left us: 'She is at
hand, and expects you'?"
"I have been compelled to believe he alluded to this unhappy
"The simpleton was frightened, and blundered through his
message; but he had a deeper meaning. Here are walls enough
to separate the whole settlement. A bear ought to climb;
therefore will I take a look above them. There may be honey-pots
hid in these rocks, and I am a beast, you know, that has a
hankering for the sweets."
The scout looked behind him, laughing at his own conceit,
while he clambered up the partition, imitating, as he went,
the clumsy motions of the beast he represented; but the
instant the summit was gained he made a gesture for silence,
and slid down with the utmost precipitation.
"She is here," he whispered, "and by that door you will find
her. I would have spoken a word of comfort to the afflicted
soul; but the sight of such a monster might upset her
reason. Though for that matter, major, you are none of the
most inviting yourself in your paint."
Duncan, who had already swung eagerly forward, drew
instantly back on hearing these discouraging words.
"Am I, then, so very revolting?" he demanded, with an air of
"You might not startle a wolf, or turn the Royal Americans
from a discharge; but I have seen the time when you had a
better favored look; your streaked countenances are not
ill-judged of by the squaws, but young women of white blood give
the preference to their own color. See," he added, pointing
to a place where the water trickled from a rock, forming a
little crystal spring, before it found an issue through the
adjacent crevices; "you may easily get rid of the Sagamore's
daub, and when you come back I will try my hand at a new
embellishment. It's as common for a conjurer to alter his
paint as for a buck in the settlements to change his
The deliberate woodsman had little occasion to hunt for
arguments to enforce his advice. He was yet speaking when
Duncan availed himself of the water. In a moment every
frightful or offensive mark was obliterated, and the youth
appeared again in the lineaments with which he had been
gifted by nature. Thus prepared for an interview with his
mistress, he took a hasty leave of his companion, and
disappeared through the indicated passage. The scout
witnessed his departure with complacency, nodding his head
after him, and muttering his good wishes; after which he
very coolly set about an examination of the state of the
larder, among the Hurons, the cavern, among other purposes,
being used as a receptacle for the fruits of their hunts.
Duncan had no other guide than a distant glimmering light,
which served, however, the office of a polar star to the
lover. By its aid he was enabled to enter the haven of his
hopes, which was merely another apartment of the cavern,
that had been solely appropriated to the safekeeping of so
important a prisoner as a daughter of the commandant of
William Henry. It was profusely strewed with the plunder of
that unlucky fortress. In the midst of this confusion he
found her he sought, pale, anxious and terrified, but
lovely. David had prepared her for such a visit.
"Duncan!" she exclaimed, in a voice that seemed to tremble
at the sounds created by itself.
"Alice!" he answered, leaping carelessly among trunks,
boxes, arms, and furniture, until he stood at her side.
"I knew that you would never desert me," she said, looking
up with a momentary glow on her otherwise dejected
countenance. "But you are alone! Grateful as it is to be
thus remembered, I could wish to think you are not entirely
Duncan, observing that she trembled in a manner which
betrayed her inability to stand, gently induced her to be
seated, while he recounted those leading incidents which it
has been our task to accord. Alice listened with breathless
interest; and though the young man touched lightly on the
sorrows of the stricken father; taking care, however, not to
wound the self-love of his auditor, the tears ran as freely
down the cheeks of the daughter as though she had never wept
before. The soothing tenderness of Duncan, however, soon
quieted the first burst of her emotions, and she then heard
him to the close with undivided attention, if not with
"And now, Alice," he added, "you will see how much is still
expected of you. By the assistance of our experienced and
invaluable friend, the scout, we may find our way from this
savage people, but you will have to exert your utmost
fortitude. Remember that you fly to the arms of your
venerable parent, and how much his happiness, as well as
your own, depends on those exertions."
"Can I do otherwise for a father who has done so much for
"And for me, too," continued the youth, gently pressing the
hand he held in both his own.
The look of innocence and surprise which he received in
return convinced Duncan of the necessity of being more
"This is neither the place nor the occasion to detain you
with selfish wishes," he added; "but what heart loaded like
mine would not wish to cast its burden? They say misery is
the closest of all ties; our common suffering in your behalf
left but little to be explained between your father and
"And, dearest Cora, Duncan; surely Cora was not forgotten?"
"Not forgotten! no; regretted, as woman was seldom mourned
before. Your venerable father knew no difference between
his children; but I -- Alice, you will not be offended when
I say, that to me her worth was in a degree obscured --"
"Then you knew not the merit of my sister," said Alice,
withdrawing her hand; "of you she ever speaks as of one who
is her dearest friend."
"I would gladly believe her such," returned Duncan, hastily;
"I could wish her to be even more; but with you, Alice, I
have the permission of your father to aspire to a still
nearer and dearer tie."
Alice trembled violently, and there was an instant during
which she bent her face aside, yielding to the emotions
common to her sex; but they quickly passed away, leaving her
mistress of her deportment, if not of her affections.
"Heyward," she said, looking him full in the face with a
touching expression of innocence and dependency, "give me
the sacred presence and the holy sanction of that parent
before you urge me further."
"Though more I should not, less I could not say," the youth
was about to answer, when he was interrupted by a light tap
on his shoulder. Starting to his feet, he turned, and,
confronting the intruder, his looks fell on the dark form
and malignant visage of Magua. The deep guttural laugh of
the savage sounded, at such a moment, to Duncan, like the
hellish taunt of a demon. Had he pursued the sudden and
fierce impulse of the instant, he would have cast himself on
the Huron, and committed their fortunes to the issue of a
deadly struggle. But, without arms of any description,
ignorant of what succor his subtle enemy could command, and
charged with the safety of one who was just then dearer than
ever to his heart, he no sooner entertained than he
abandoned the desperate intention.
"What is your purpose?" said Alice, meekly folding her arms
on her bosom, and struggling to conceal an agony of
apprehension in behalf of Heyward, in the usual cold and
distant manner with which she received the visits of her
The exulting Indian had resumed his austere countenance,
though he drew warily back before the menacing glance of the
young man's fiery eye. He regarded both his captives for a
moment with a steady look, and then, stepping aside, he
dropped a log of wood across a door different from that by
which Duncan had entered. The latter now comprehended the
manner of his surprise, and, believing himself irretrievably
lost, he drew Alice to his bosom, and stood prepared to meet
a fate which he hardly regretted, since it was to be
suffered in such company. But Magua meditated no immediate
violence. His first measures were very evidently taken to
secure his new captive; nor did he even bestow a second
glance at the motionless forms in the center of the cavern,
until he had completely cut off every hope of retreat
through the private outlet he had himself used. He was
watched in all his movements by Heyward, who, however,
remained firm, still folding the fragile form of Alice to
his heart, at once too proud and too hopeless to ask favor
of an enemy so often foiled. When Magua had effected his
object he approached his prisoners, and said in English:
"The pale faces trap the cunning beavers; but the red-skins
know how to take the Yengeese."
"Huron, do your worst!" exclaimed the excited Heyward,
forgetful that a double stake was involved in his life; "you
and your vengeance are alike despised."
"Will the white man speak these words at the stake?" asked
Magua; manifesting, at the same time, how little faith he
had in the other's resolution by the sneer that accompanied
"Here; singly to your face, or in the presence of your
"Le Renard Subtil is a great chief!" returned the Indian;
"he will go and bring his young men, to see how bravely a
pale face can laugh at tortures."
He turned away while speaking, and was about to leave the
place through the avenue by which Duncan had approached,
when a growl caught his ear, and caused him to hesitate.
The figure of the bear appeared in the door, where it sat,
rolling from side to side in its customary restlessness.
Magua, like the father of the sick woman, eyed it keenly for
a moment, as if to ascertain its character. He was far
above the more vulgar superstitions of his tribe, and so
soon as he recognized the well-known attire of the conjurer,
he prepared to pass it in cool contempt. But a louder and
more threatening growl caused him again to pause. Then he
seemed as if suddenly resolved to trifle no longer, and
moved resolutely forward.
The mimic animal, which had advanced a little, retired
slowly in his front, until it arrived again at the pass,
when, rearing on his hinder legs, it beat the air with its
paws, in the manner practised by its brutal prototype.
"Fool!" exclaimed the chief, in Huron, "go play with the
children and squaws; leave men to their wisdom."
He once more endeavored to pass the supposed empiric,
scorning even the parade of threatening to use the knife, or
tomahawk, that was pendent from his belt. Suddenly the
beast extended its arms, or rather legs, and inclosed him in
a grasp that might have vied with the far-famed power of the
"bear's hug" itself. Heyward had watched the whole
procedure, on the part of Hawkeye, with breathless interest.
At first he relinquished his hold of Alice; then he caught
up a thong of buckskin, which had been used around some
bundle, and when he beheld his enemy with his two arms
pinned to his side by the iron muscles of the scout, he
rushed upon him, and effectually secured them there. Arms,
legs, and feet were encircled in twenty folds of the thong,
in less time than we have taken to record the circumstance.
When the formidable Huron was completely pinioned, the scout
released his hold, and Duncan laid his enemy on his back,
Throughout the whole of this sudden and extraordinary
operation, Magua, though he had struggled violently, until
assured he was in the hands of one whose nerves were far
better strung than his own, had not uttered the slightest
exclamation. But when Hawkeye, by way of making a summary
explanation of his conduct, removed the shaggy jaws of the
beast, and exposed his own rugged and earnest countenance to
the gaze of the Huron, the philosophy of the latter was so
far mastered as to permit him to utter the never failing:
"Ay, you've found your tongue," said his undisturbed
conqueror; "now, in order that you shall not use it to our
ruin, I must make free to stop your mouth."
As there was no time to be lost, the scout immediately set
about effecting so necessary a precaution; and when he had
gagged the Indian, his enemy might safely have been
considered as "hors de combat."
"By what place did the imp enter?" asked the industrious
scout, when his work was ended. "Not a soul has passed my
way since you left me."
Duncan pointed out the door by which Magua had come, and
which now presented too many obstacles to a quick retreat.
"Bring on the gentle one, then," continued his friend; "we
must make a push for the woods by the other outlet."
"'Tis impossible!" said Duncan; "fear has overcome her, and
she is helpless. Alice! my sweet, my own Alice, arouse
yourself; now is the moment to fly. 'Tis in vain! she
hears, but is unable to follow. Go, noble and worthy
friend; save yourself, and leave me to my fate."
"Every trail has its end, and every calamity brings its
lesson!" returned the scout. "There, wrap her in them
Indian cloths. Conceal all of her little form. Nay, that
foot has no fellow in the wilderness; it will betray her.
All, every part. Now take her in your arms, and follow.
Leave the rest to me."
Duncan, as may be gathered from the words of his companion,
was eagerly obeying; and, as the other finished speaking, he
took the light person of Alice in his arms, and followed in
the footsteps of the scout. They found the sick woman as
they had left her, still alone, and passed swiftly on, by
the natural gallery, to the place of entrance. As they
approached the little door of bark, a murmur of voices
without announced that the friends and relatives of the
invalid were gathered about the place, patiently awaiting a
summons to re-enter.
"If I open my lips to speak," Hawkeye whispered, "my
English, which is the genuine tongue of a white-skin, will
tell the varlets that an enemy is among them. You must give
'em your jargon, major; and say that we have shut the evil
spirit in the cave, and are taking the woman to the woods in
order to find strengthening roots. Practise all your
cunning, for it is a lawful undertaking."
The door opened a little, as if one without was listening to
the proceedings within, and compelled the scout to cease his
directions. A fierce growl repelled the eavesdropper, and
then the scout boldly threw open the covering of bark, and
left the place, enacting the character of a bear as he
proceeded. Duncan kept close at his heels, and soon found
himself in the center of a cluster of twenty anxious
relatives and friends.
The crowd fell back a little, and permitted the father, and
one who appeared to be the husband of the woman, to
"Has my brother driven away the evil spirit?" demanded the
former. "What has he in his arms?"
"Thy child," returned Duncan, gravely; "the disease has gone
out of her; it is shut up in the rocks. I take the woman to
a distance, where I will strengthen her against any further
attacks. She will be in the wigwam of the young man when
the sun comes again."
When the father had translated the meaning of the stranger's
words into the Huron language, a suppressed murmur announced
the satisfaction with which this intelligence was received.
The chief himself waved his hand for Duncan to proceed,
saying aloud, in a firm voice, and with a lofty manner:
"Go; I am a man, and I will enter the rock and fight the
Heyward had gladly obeyed, and was already past the little
group, when these startling words arrested him.
"Is my brother mad?" he exclaimed; "is he cruel? He will
meet the disease, and it will enter him; or he will drive
out the disease, and it will chase his daughter into the
woods. No; let my children wait without, and if the spirit
appears beat him down with clubs. He is cunning, and will
bury himself in the mountain, when he sees how many are
ready to fight him."
This singular warning had the desired effect. Instead of
entering the cavern, the father and husband drew their
tomahawks, and posted themselves in readiness to deal their
vengeance on the imaginary tormentor of their sick relative,
while the women and children broke branches from the bushes,
or seized fragments of the rock, with a similar intention.
At this favorable moment the counterfeit conjurers
Hawkeye, at the same time that he had presumed so far on the
nature of the Indian superstitions, was not ignorant that
they were rather tolerated than relied on by the wisest of
the chiefs. He well knew the value of time in the present
emergency. Whatever might be the extent of the self-delusion
of his enemies, and however it had tended to assist his
schemes, the slightest cause of suspicion, acting on the
subtle nature of an Indian, would be likely to prove fatal.
Taking the path, therefore, that was most likely to avoid
observation, he rather skirted than entered the village.
The warriors were still to be seen in the distance, by the
fading light of the fires, stalking from lodge to lodge.
But the children had abandoned their sports for their beds
of skins, and the quiet of night was already beginning to
prevail over the turbulence and excitement of so busy and
important an evening.
Alice revived under the renovating influence of the open
air, and, as her physical rather than her mental powers had
been the subject of weakness, she stood in no need of any
explanation of that which had occurred.
"Now let me make an effort to walk," she said, when they had
entered the forest, blushing, though unseen, that she had
not been sooner able to quit the arms of Duncan; "I am
"Nay, Alice, you are yet too weak."
The maiden struggled gently to release herself, and Heyward
was compelled to part with his precious burden. The
representative of the bear had certainly been an entire
stranger to the delicious emotions of the lover while his
arms encircled his mistress; and he was, perhaps, a stranger
also to the nature of that feeling of ingenuous shame that
oppressed the trembling Alice. But when he found himself at
a suitable distance from the lodges he made a halt, and
spoke on a subject of which he was thoroughly the master.
"This path will lead you to the brook," he said; "follow its
northern bank until you come to a fall; mount the hill on
your right, and you will see the fires of the other people.
There you must go and demand protection; if they are true
Delawares you will be safe. A distant flight with that
gentle one, just now, is impossible. The Hurons would
follow up our trail, and master our scalps before we had got
a dozen miles. Go, and Providence be with you."
"And you!" demanded Heyward, in surprise; "surely we part
"The Hurons hold the pride of the Delawares; the last of the
high blood of the Mohicans is in their power," returned the
scout; "I go to see what can be done in his favor. Had they
mastered your scalp, major, a knave should have fallen for
every hair it held, as I promised; but if the young Sagamore
is to be led to the stake, the Indians shall see also how a
man without a cross can die."
Not in the least offended with the decided preference that
the sturdy woodsman gave to one who might, in some degree,
be called the child of his adoption, Duncan still continued
to urge such reasons against so desperate an effort as
presented themselves. He was aided by Alice, who mingled
her entreaties with those of Heyward that he would abandon a
resolution that promised so much danger, with so little hope
of success. Their eloquence and ingenuity were expended in
vain. The scout heard them attentively, but impatiently,
and finally closed the discussion, by answering, in a tone
that instantly silenced Alice, while it told Heyward how
fruitless any further remonstrances would be.
"I have heard," he said, "that there is a feeling in youth
which binds man to woman closer than the father is tied to
the son. It may be so. I have seldom been where women of
my color dwell; but such may be the gifts of nature in the
settlements. You have risked life, and all that is dear to
you, to bring off this gentle one, and I suppose that some
such disposition is at the bottom of it all. As for me, I
taught the lad the real character of a rifle; and well has
he paid me for it. I have fou't at his side in many a
bloody scrimmage; and so long as I could hear the crack of
his piece in one ear, and that of the Sagamore in the other,
I knew no enemy was on my back. Winters and summer, nights
and days, have we roved the wilderness in company, eating of
the same dish, one sleeping while the other watched; and
afore it shall be said that Uncas was taken to the torment,
and I at hand -- There is but a single Ruler of us all,
whatever may the color of the skin; and Him I call to
witness, that before the Mohican boy shall perish for the
want of a friend, good faith shall depart the 'arth, and
'killdeer' become as harmless as the tooting we'pon of the
Duncan released his hold on the arm of the scout, who
turned, and steadily retraced his steps toward the lodges.
After pausing a moment to gaze at his retiring form, the
successful and yet sorrowful Heyward and Alice took their
way together toward the distant village of the Delawares.
"Bot.--Let me play the lion too."--Midsummer Night's
Notwithstanding the high resolution of Hawkeye he fully
comprehended all the difficulties and danger he was about to
incur. In his return to the camp, his acute and practised
intellects were intently engaged in devising means to
counteract a watchfulness and suspicion on the part of his
enemies, that he knew were, in no degree, inferior to his
own. Nothing but the color of his skin had saved the lives
of Magua and the conjurer, who would have been the first
victims sacrificed to his own security, had not the scout
believed such an act, however congenial it might be to the
nature of an Indian, utterly unworthy of one who boasted a
descent from men that knew no cross of blood. Accordingly,
he trusted to the withes and ligaments with which he had
bound his captives, and pursued his way directly toward the
center of the lodges. As he approached the buildings, his
steps become more deliberate, and his vigilant eye suffered
no sign, whether friendly or hostile, to escape him. A
neglected hut was a little in advance of the others, and
appeared as if it had been deserted when half completed --
most probably on account of failing in some of the more
important requisites; such as wood or water. A faint light
glimmered through its cracks, however, and announced that,
notwithstanding its imperfect structure, it was not without
a tenant. Thither, then, the scout proceeded, like a
prudent general, who was about to feel the advanced
positions of his enemy, before he hazarded the main attack.
Throwing himself into a suitable posture for the beast he
represented, Hawkeye crawled to a little opening, where he
might command a view of the interior. It proved to be the
abiding place of David Gamut. Hither the faithful singing-master
had now brought himself, together with all his sorrows, his
apprehensions, and his meek dependence on the protection of
Providence. At the precise moment when his ungainly person
came under the observation of the scout, in the manner just
mentioned, the woodsman himself, though in his assumed character,
was the subject of the solitary being's profounded reflections.
However implicit the faith of David was in the performance
of ancient miracles, he eschewed the belief of any direct
supernatural agency in the management of modern morality.
In other words, while he had implicit faith in the ability
of Balaam's ass to speak, he was somewhat skeptical on the
subject of a bear's singing; and yet he had been assured of
the latter, on the testimony of his own exquisite organs.
There was something in his air and manner that betrayed to
the scout the utter confusion of the state of his mind. He
was seated on a pile of brush, a few twigs from which
occasionally fed his low fire, with his head leaning on his
arm, in a posture of melancholy musing. The costume of the
votary of music had undergone no other alteration from that
so lately described, except that he had covered his bald
head with the triangular beaver, which had not proved
sufficiently alluring to excite the cupidity of any of his
The ingenious Hawkeye, who recalled the hasty manner in
which the other had abandoned his post at the bedside of the
sick woman, was not without his suspicions concerning the
subject of so much solemn deliberation. First making the
circuit of the hut, and ascertaining that it stood quite
alone, and that the character of its inmate was likely to
protect it from visitors, he ventured through its low door,
into the very presence of Gamut. The position of the latter
brought the fire between them; and when Hawkeye had seated
himself on end, near a minute elapsed, during which the two
remained regarding each other without speaking. The
suddenness and the nature of the surprise had nearly proved
too much for -- we will not say the philosophy -- but for
the pitch and resolution of David. He fumbled for his pitch-pipe,
and arose with a confused intention of attempting a musical exorcism.
"Dark and mysterious monster!" he exclaimed, while with
trembling hands he disposed of his auxiliary eyes, and
sought his never-failing resource in trouble, the gifted
version of the psalms; "I know not your nature nor intents;
but if aught you meditate against the person and rights of
one of the humblest servants of the temple, listen to the
inspired language of the youth of Israel, and repent."
The bear shook his shaggy sides, and then a well-known voice
"Put up the tooting we'pon, and teach your throat modesty.
Five words of plain and comprehendible English are worth
just now an hour of squalling."
"What art thou?" demanded David, utterly disqualified to
pursue his original intention, and nearly gasping for
"A man like yourself; and one whose blood is as little
tainted by the cross of a bear, or an Indian, as your own.
Have you so soon forgotten from whom you received the
foolish instrument you hold in your hand?"
"Can these things be?" returned David, breathing more
freely, as the truth began to dawn upon him. "I have found
many marvels during my sojourn with the heathen, but surely
nothing to excel this."
"Come, come," returned Hawkeye, uncasing his honest
countenance, the better to assure the wavering confidence of
his companion; "you may see a skin, which, if it be not as
white as one of the gentle ones, has no tinge of red to it
that the winds of the heaven and the sun have not bestowed.
Now let us to business."
"First tell me of the maiden, and of the youth who so
bravely sought her," interrupted David.
"Ay, they are happily freed from the tomahawks of these
varlets. But can you put me on the scent of Uncas?"
"The young man is in bondage, and much I fear his death is
decreed. I greatly mourn that one so well disposed should
die in his ignorance, and I have sought a goodly hymn --"
"Can you lead me to him?"
"The task will not be difficult," returned David,
hesitating; "though I greatly fear your presence would
rather increase than mitigate his unhappy fortunes."
"No more words, but lead on," returned Hawkeye, concealing
his face again, and setting the example in his own person,
by instantly quitting the lodge.
As they proceeded, the scout ascertained that his companion
found access to Uncas, under privilege of his imaginary
infirmity, aided by the favor he had acquired with one of
the guards, who, in consequence of speaking a little
English, had been selected by David as the subject of a
religious conversion. How far the Huron comprehended the
intentions of his new friend may well be doubted; but as
exclusive attention is as flattering to a savage as to a
more civilized individual, it had produced the effect we
have mentioned. It is unnecessary to repeat the shrewd
manner with which the scout extracted these particulars from
the simple David; neither shall we dwell in this place on
the nature of the instruction he delivered, when completely
master of all the necessary facts; as the whole will be
sufficiently explained to the reader in the course of the
The lodge in which Uncas was confined was in the very center
of the village, and in a situation, perhaps, more difficult
than any other to approach, or leave, without observation.
But it was not the policy of Hawkeye to affect the least
concealment. Presuming on his disguise, and his ability to
sustain the character he had assumed, he took the most plain
and direct route to the place. The hour, however, afforded
him some little of that protection which he appeared so much
to despise. The boys were already buried in sleep, and all
the women, and most of the warriors, had retired to their
lodges for the night. Four or five of the latter only
lingered about the door of the prison of Uncas, wary but
close observers of the manner of their captive.
At the sight of Gamut, accompanied by one in the well-known
masquerade of their most distinguished conjurer, they
readily made way for them both. Still they betrayed no
intention to depart. On the other hand, they were evidently
disposed to remain bound to the place by an additional
interest in the mysterious mummeries that they of course
expected from such a visit.
From the total inability of the scout to address the Hurons
in their own language, he was compelled to trust the
conversation entirely to David. Notwithstanding the
simplicity of the latter, he did ample justice to the
instructions he had received, more than fulfilling the
strongest hopes of his teacher.
"The Delawares are women!" he exclaimed, addressing himself
to the savage who had a slight understanding of the language
in which he spoke; "the Yengeese, my foolish countrymen,
have told them to take up the tomahawk, and strike their
fathers in the Canadas, and they have forgotten their sex.
Does my brother wish to hear 'Le Cerf Agile' ask for his
petticoats, and see him weep before the Hurons, at the
The exclamation "Hugh!" delivered in a strong tone of
assent, announced the gratification the savage would receive
in witnessing such an exhibition of weakness in an enemy so
long hated and so much feared.
"Then let him step aside, and the cunning man will blow upon
the dog. Tell it to my brothers."
The Huron explained the meaning of David to his fellows,
who, in their turn, listened to the project with that sort
of satisfaction that their untamed spirits might be expected
to find in such a refinement in cruelty. They drew back a
little from the entrance and motioned to the supposed
conjurer to enter. But the bear, instead of obeying,
maintained the seat it had taken, and growled:
"The cunning man is afraid that his breath will blow upon
his brothers, and take away their courage too," continued
David, improving the hint he received; "they must stand
The Hurons, who would have deemed such a misfortune the
heaviest calamity that could befall them, fell back in a
body, taking a position where they were out of earshot,
though at the same time they could command a view of the
entrance to the lodge. Then, as if satisfied of their
safety, the scout left his position, and slowly entered the
place. It was silent and gloomy, being tenanted solely by
the captive, and lighted by the dying embers of a fire,
which had been used for the purposed of cookery.
Uncas occupied a distant corner, in a reclining attitude,
being rigidly bound, both hands and feet, by strong and
painful withes. When the frightful object first presented
itself to the young Mohican, he did not deign to bestow a
single glance on the animal. The scout, who had left David
at the door, to ascertain they were not observed, thought it
prudent to preserve his disguise until assured of their
privacy. Instead of speaking, therefore, he exerted himself
to enact one of the antics of the animal he represented.
The young Mohican, who at first believed his enemies had
sent in a real beast to torment him, and try his nerves,
detected in those performances that to Heyward had appeared
so accurate, certain blemishes, that at once betrayed the
counterfeit. Had Hawkeye been aware of the low estimation
in which the skillful Uncas held his representations, he
would probably have prolonged the entertainment a little in
pique. But the scornful expression of the young man's eye
admitted of so many constructions, that the worthy scout was
spared the mortification of such a discovery. As soon,
therefore, as David gave the preconcerted signal, a low
hissing sound was heard in the lodge in place of the fierce
growlings of the bear.
Uncas had cast his body back against the wall of the hut and
closed his eyes, as if willing to exclude so contemptible
and disagreeable an object from his sight. But the moment
the noise of the serpent was heard, he arose, and cast his
looks on each side of him, bending his head low, and turning
it inquiringly in every direction, until his keen eye rested
on the shaggy monster, where it remained riveted, as though
fixed by the power of a charm. Again the same sounds were
repeated, evidently proceeding from the mouth of the beast.
Once more the eyes of the youth roamed over the interior of
the lodge, and returning to the former resting place, he
uttered, in a deep, suppressed voice:
"Cut his bands," said Hawkeye to David, who just then
The singer did as he was ordered, and Uncas found his limbs
released. At the same moment the dried skin of the animal
rattled, and presently the scout arose to his feet, in
proper person. The Mohican appeared to comprehend the
nature of the attempt his friend had made, intuitively,
neither tongue nor feature betraying another symptom of
surprise. When Hawkeye had cast his shaggy vestment, which
was done by simply loosing certain thongs of skin, he drew a
long, glittering knife, and put it in the hands of Uncas.
"The red Hurons are without," he said; "let us be ready."
At the same time he laid his finger significantly on another
similar weapon, both being the fruits of his prowess among
their enemies during the evening.
"We will go," said Uncas.
"To the Tortoises; they are the children of my
"Ay, lad," said the scout in English -- a language he was
apt to use when a little abstracted in mind; "the same blood
runs in your veins, I believe; but time and distance has a
little changed its color. What shall we do with the Mingoes
at the door? They count six, and this singer is as good as
"The Hurons are boasters," said Uncas, scornfully; "their
'totem' is a moose, and they run like snails. The Delawares
are children of the tortoise, and they outstrip the deer."
"Ay, lad, there is truth in what you say; and I doubt not,
on a rush, you would pass the whole nation; and, in a
straight race of two miles, would be in, and get your breath
again, afore a knave of them all was within hearing of the
other village. But the gift of a white man lies more in his
arms than in his legs. As for myself, I can brain a Huron
as well as a better man; but when it comes to a race the
knaves would prove too much for me."
Uncas, who had already approached the door, in readiness to
lead the way, now recoiled, and placed himself, once more,
in the bottom of the lodge. But Hawkeye, who was too much
occupied with his own thoughts to note the movement,
continued speaking more to himself than to his companion.
"After all," he said, "it is unreasonable to keep one man in
bondage to the gifts of another. So, Uncas, you had better
take the lead, while I will put on the skin again, and trust
to cunning for want of speed."
The young Mohican made no reply, but quietly folded his
arms, and leaned his body against one of the upright posts
that supported the wall of the hut.
"Well," said the scout looking up at him, "why do you tarry?
There will be time enough for me, as the knaves will give
chase to you at first."
"Uncas will stay," was the calm reply.
"To fight with his father's brother, and die with the friend
of the Delawares."
"Ay, lad," returned Hawkeye, squeezing the hand of Uncas
between his own iron fingers; "'twould have been more like a
Mingo than a Mohican had you left me. But I thought I would
make the offer, seeing that youth commonly loves life.
Well, what can't be done by main courage, in war, must be
done by circumvention. Put on the skin; I doubt not you can
play the bear nearly as well as myself."
Whatever might have been the private opinion of Uncas of
their respective abilities in this particular, his grave
countenance manifested no opinion of his superiority. He
silently and expeditiously encased himself in the covering
of the beast, and then awaited such other movements as his
more aged companion saw fit to dictate.
"Now, friend," said Hawkeye, addressing David, "an exchange
of garments will be a great convenience to you, inasmuch as
you are but little accustomed to the make-shifts of the
wilderness. Here, take my hunting shirt and cap, and give
me your blanket and hat. You must trust me with the book
and spectacles, as well as the tooter, too; if we ever meet
again, in better times, you shall have all back again, with
many thanks into the bargain."
David parted with the several articles named with a
readiness that would have done great credit to his
liberality, had he not certainly profited, in many
particulars, by the exchange. Hawkeye was not long in
assuming his borrowed garments; and when his restless eyes
were hid behind the glasses, and his head was surmounted by
the triangular beaver, as their statures were not
dissimilar, he might readily have passed for the singer, by
starlight. As soon as these dispositions were made, the
scout turned to David, and gave him his parting
"Are you much given to cowardice?" he bluntly asked, by way
of obtaining a suitable understanding of the whole case
before he ventured a prescription.
"My pursuits are peaceful, and my temper, I humbly trust, is
greatly given to mercy and love," returned David, a little
nettled at so direct an attack on his manhood; "but there
are none who can say that I have ever forgotten my faith in
the Lord, even in the greatest straits."
"Your chiefest danger will be at the moment when the savages
find out that they have been deceived. If you are not then
knocked on the head, your being a non-composser will protect
you; and you'll then have a good reason to expect to die in
your bed. If you stay, it must be to sit down here in the
shadow, and take the part of Uncas, until such times as the
cunning of the Indians discover the cheat, when, as I have
already said, your times of trial will come. So choose for
yourself -- to make a rush or tarry here."
"Even so," said David, firmly; "I will abide in the place of
the Delaware. Bravely and generously has he battled in my
behalf, and this, and more, will I dare in his service."
"You have spoken as a man, and like one who, under wiser
schooling, would have been brought to better things. Hold
your head down, and draw in your legs; their formation might
tell the truth too early. Keep silent as long as may be;
and it would be wise, when you do speak, to break out
suddenly in one of your shoutings, which will serve to
remind the Indians that you are not altogether as
responsible as men should be. If however, they take your
scalp, as I trust and believe they will not, depend on it,
Uncas and I will not forget the deed, but revenge it as
becomes true warriors and trusty friends."
"Hold!" said David, perceiving that with this assurance they
were about to leave him; "I am an unworthy and humble
follower of one who taught not the damnable principle of
revenge. Should I fall, therefore, seek no victims to my
manes, but rather forgive my destroyers; and if you remember
them at all, let it be in prayers for the enlightening of
their minds, and for their eternal welfare."
The scout hesitated, and appeared to muse.
"There is a principle in that," he said, "different from the
law of the woods; and yet it is fair and noble to reflect
upon." Then heaving a heavy sigh, probably among the last
he ever drew in pining for a condition he had so long
abandoned, he added: "it is what I would wish to practise
myself, as one without a cross of blood, though it is not
always easy to deal with an Indian as you would with a
fellow Christian. God bless you, friend; I do believe your
scent is not greatly wrong, when the matter is duly
considered, and keeping eternity before the eyes, though
much depends on the natural gifts, and the force of
So saying, the scout returned and shook David cordially by
the hand; after which act of friendship he immediately left
the lodge, attended by the new representative of the beast.
The instant Hawkeye found himself under the observation of
the Hurons, he drew up his tall form in the rigid manner of
David, threw out his arm in the act of keeping time, and
commenced what he intended for an imitation of his psalmody.
Happily for the success of this delicate adventure, he had
to deal with ears but little practised in the concord of
sweet sounds, or the miserable effort would infallibly have
been detected. It was necessary to pass within a dangerous
proximity of the dark group of the savages, and the voice of
the scout grew louder as they drew nigher. When at the
nearest point the Huron who spoke the English thrust out an
arm, and stopped the supposed singing-master.
"The Delaware dog!" he said, leaning forward, and peering
through the dim light to catch the expression of the other's
features; "is he afraid? Will the Hurons hear his groans?"
A growl, so exceedingly fierce and natural, proceeded from
the beast, that the young Indian released his hold and
started aside, as if to assure himself that it was not a
veritable bear, and no counterfeit, that was rolling before
him. Hawkeye, who feared his voice would betray him to his
subtle enemies, gladly profited by the interruption, to
break out anew in such a burst of musical expression as
would, probably, in a more refined state of society have
been termed "a grand crash." Among his actual auditors,
however, it merely gave him an additional claim to that
respect which they never withhold from such as are believed
to be the subjects of mental alienation. The little knot on
Indians drew back in a body, and suffered, as they thought,
the conjurer and his inspired assistant to proceed.
It required no common exercise of fortitude in Uncas and the
scout to continue the dignified and deliberate pace they had
assumed in passing the lodge; especially as they immediately
perceived that curiosity had so far mastered fear, as to
induce the watchers to approach the hut, in order to witness
the effect of the incantations. The least injudicious or
impatient movement on the part of David might betray them,
and time was absolutely necessary to insure the safety of
the scout. The loud noise the latter conceived it politic
to continue, drew many curious gazers to the doors of the
different huts as thy passed; and once or twice a dark-looking
warrior stepped across their path, led to the act by
superstition and watchfulness. They were not, however,
interrupted, the darkness of the hour, and the boldness of
the attempt, proving their principal friends.
The adventurers had got clear of the village, and were now
swiftly approaching the shelter of the woods, when a loud
and long cry arose from the lodge where Uncas had been
confined. The Mohican started on his feet, and shook his
shaggy covering, as though the animal he counterfeited was
about to make some desperate effort.
"Hold!" said the scout, grasping his friend by the shoulder,
"let them yell again! 'Twas nothing but wonderment."
He had no occasion to delay, for at the next instant a burst
of cries filled the outer air, and ran along the whole
extent of the village. Uncas cast his skin, and stepped
forth in his own beautiful proportions. Hawkeye tapped him
lightly on the shoulder, and glided ahead.
"Now let the devils strike our scent!" said the scout,
tearing two rifles, with all their attendant accouterments,
from beneath a bush, and flourishing "killdeer" as he handed
Uncas his weapon; "two, at least, will find it to their
Then, throwing their pieces to a low trail, like sportsmen
in readiness for their game, they dashed forward, and were
soon buried in the somber darkness of the forest.
"Ant. I shall remember: When C'sar says Do this, it is
The impatience of the savages who lingered about the prison
of Uncas, as has been seen, had overcome their dread of the
conjurer's breath. They stole cautiously, and with beating
hearts, to a crevice, through which the faint light of the
fire was glimmering. For several minutes they mistook the
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