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The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 9 out of 9

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drawing back with suitable discretion, when he noted the
eagerness with which Magua listened to his proposal. "It
would be an unequal exchange, to give a warrior, in the
prime of his age and usefulness, for the best woman on the
frontiers. I might consent to go into winter quarters, now
-- at least six weeks afore the leaves will turn -- on
condition you will release the maiden."

Magua shook his head, and made an impatient sign for the
crowd to open.

"Well, then," added the scout, with the musing air of a man
who had not half made up his mind; "I will throw 'killdeer'
into the bargain. Take the word of an experienced hunter,
the piece has not its equal atween the provinces."

Magua still disdained to reply, continuing his efforts to
disperse the crowd.

"Perhaps," added the scout, losing his dissembled coolness
exactly in proportion as the other manifested an
indifference to the exchange, "if I should condition to
teach your young men the real virtue of the we'pon, it would
smoothe the little differences in our judgments."

Le Renard fiercely ordered the Delawares, who still lingered
in an impenetrable belt around him, in hopes he would listen
to the amicable proposal, to open his path, threatening, by
the glance of his eye, another appeal to the infallible
justice of their "prophet."

"What is ordered must sooner or later arrive," continued
Hawkeye, turning with a sad and humbled look to Uncas. "The
varlet knows his advantage and will keep it! God bless you,
boy; you have found friends among your natural kin, and I
hope they will prove as true as some you have met who had no
Indian cross. As for me, sooner or later, I must die; it
is, therefore, fortunate there are but few to make my death-howl.
After all, it is likely the imps would have managed to master my
scalp, so a day or two will make no great difference in the
everlasting reckoning of time. God bless you," added the rugged
woodsman, bending his head aside, and then instantly changing its
direction again, with a wistful look toward the youth; "I loved
both you and your father, Uncas, though our skins are not
altogether of a color, and our gifts are somewhat different.
Tell the Sagamore I never lost sight of him in my greatest
trouble; and, as for you, think of me sometimes when on a lucky
trail, and depend on it, boy, whether there be one heaven or two,
there is a path in the other world by which honest men may come
together again. You'll find the rifle in the place we hid it;
take it, and keep it for my sake; and, harkee, lad, as your
natural gifts don't deny you the use of vengeance, use it a
little freely on the Mingoes; it may unburden griefs at my
loss, and ease your mind. Huron, I accept your offer;
release the woman. I am your prisoner!"

A suppressed, but still distinct murmur of approbation ran
through the crowd at this generous proposition; even the
fiercest among the Delaware warriors manifesting pleasure at
the manliness of the intended sacrifice. Magua paused, and
for an anxious moment, it might be said, he doubted; then,
casting his eyes on Cora, with an expression in which
ferocity and admiration were strangely mingled, his purpose
became fixed forever.

He intimated his contempt of the offer with a backward
motion of his head, and said, in a steady and settled voice:

"Le Renard Subtil is a great chief; he has but one mind.
Come," he added, laying his hand too familiarly on the
shoulder of his captive to urge her onward; "a Huron is no
tattler; we will go."

The maiden drew back in lofty womanly reserve, and her dark
eye kindled, while the rich blood shot, like the passing
brightness of the sun, into her very temples, at the

"I am your prisoner, and, at a fitting time shall be ready
to follow, even to my death. But violence is unnecessary,"
she coldly said; and immediately turning to Hawkeye, added:
"Generous hunter! from my soul I thank you. Your offer is
vain, neither could it be accepted; but still you may serve
me, even more than in your own noble intention. Look at
that drooping humbled child! Abandon her not until you
leave her in the habitations of civilized men. I will not
say," wringing the hard hand of the scout, "that her father
will reward you -- for such as you are above the rewards of
men -- but he will thank you and bless you. And, believe
me, the blessing of a just and aged man has virtue in the
sight of Heaven. Would to God I could hear one word from
his lips at this awful moment!" Her voice became choked,
and, for an instant, she was silent; then, advancing a step
nigher to Duncan, who was supporting her unconscious sister,
she continued, in more subdued tones, but in which feeling
and the habits of her sex maintained a fearful struggle: "I
need not tell you to cherish the treasure you will possess.
You love her, Heyward; that would conceal a thousand faults,
though she had them. She is kind, gentle, sweet, good, as
mortal may be. There is not a blemish in mind or person at
which the proudest of you all would sicken. She is fair --
oh! how surpassingly fair!" laying her own beautiful, but
less brilliant, hand in melancholy affection on the
alabaster forehead of Alice, and parting the golden hair
which clustered about her brows; "and yet her soul is pure
and spotless as her skin! I could say much -- more,
perhaps, than cooler reason would approve; but I will spare
you and myself --" Her voice became inaudible, and her face
was bent over the form of her sister. After a long and
burning kiss, she arose, and with features of the hue of
death, but without even a tear in her feverish eye, she
turned away, and added, to the savage, with all her former
elevation of manner: "Now, sir, if it be your pleasure, I
will follow."

"Ay, go," cried Duncan, placing Alice in the arms of an
Indian girl; "go, Magua, go. these Delawares have their
laws, which forbid them to detain you; but I -- I have no
such obligation. Go, malignant monster -- why do you

It would be difficult to describe the expression with which
Magua listened to this threat to follow. There was at first
a fierce and manifest display of joy, and then it was
instantly subdued in a look of cunning coldness.

"The words are open," he was content with answering, "'The
Open Hand' can come."

"Hold," cried Hawkeye, seizing Duncan by the arm, and
detaining him by violence; "you know not the craft of the
imp. He would lead you to an ambushment, and your death --"

"Huron," interrupted Uncas, who submissive to the stern
customs of his people, had been an attentive and grave
listener to all that passed; "Huron, the justice of the
Delawares comes from the Manitou. Look at the sun. He is
now in the upper branches of the hemlock. Your path is
short and open. When he is seen above the trees, there will
be men on your trail."

"I hear a crow!" exclaimed Magua, with a taunting laugh.
"Go!" he added, shaking his hand at the crowd, which had
slowly opened to admit his passage. "Where are the
petticoats of the Delawares! Let them send their arrows and
their guns to the Wyandots; they shall have venison to eat,
and corn to hoe. Dogs, rabbits, thieves -- I spit on you!"

His parting gibes were listened to in a dead, boding
silence, and, with these biting words in his mouth, the
triumphant Magua passed unmolested into the forest, followed
by his passive captive, and protected by the inviolable laws
of Indian hospitality.


"Flue.--Kill the poys and the luggage! 'Tis expressly
against the law of arms; 'tis as arrant a piece of knavery,
mark you now, as can be offered in the 'orld."--King
Henry V

So long as their enemy and his victim continued in sight,
the multitude remained motionless as beings charmed to the
place by some power that was friendly to the Huron; but, the
instant he disappeared, it became tossed and agitated by
fierce and powerful passion. Uncas maintained his elevated
stand, keeping his eyes on the form of Cora, until the
colors of her dress were blended with the foliage of the
forest; when he descended, and, moving silently through the
throng, he disappeared in that lodge from which he had so
recently issued. A few of the graver and more attentive
warriors, who caught the gleams of anger that shot from the
eyes of the young chief in passing, followed him to the
place he had selected for his meditations. After which,
Tamenund and Alice were removed, and the women and children
were ordered to disperse. During the momentous hour that
succeeded, the encampment resembled a hive of troubled bees,
who only awaited the appearance and example of their leader
to take some distant and momentous flight.

A young warrior at length issued from the lodge of Uncas;
and, moving deliberately, with a sort of grave march, toward
a dwarf pine that grew in the crevices of the rocky terrace,
he tore the bark from its body, and then turned whence he
came without speaking. He was soon followed by another, who
stripped the sapling of its branches, leaving it a naked and
blazed* trunk. A third colored the post with stripes of a
dark red paint; all which indications of a hostile design in
the leaders of the nation were received by the men without
in a gloomy and ominous silence. Finally, the Mohican
himself reappeared, divested of all his attire, except his
girdle and leggings, and with one-half of his fine features
hid under a cloud of threatening black.

* A tree which has been partially or entirely stripped
of its bark is said, in the language of the country, to be
"blazed." The term is strictly English, for a horse is said
to be blazed when it has a white mark.

Uncas moved with a slow and dignified tread toward the post,
which he immediately commenced encircling with a measured
step, not unlike an ancient dance, raising his voice, at the
same time, in the wild and irregular chant of his war song.
The notes were in the extremes of human sounds; being
sometimes melancholy and exquisitely plaintive, even
rivaling the melody of birds -- and then, by sudden and
startling transitions, causing the auditors to tremble by
their depth and energy. The words were few and often
repeated, proceeding gradually from a sort of invocation, or
hymn, to the Deity, to an intimation of the warrior's
object, and terminating as they commenced with an
acknowledgment of his own dependence on the Great Spirit.
If it were possible to translate the comprehensive and
melodious language in which he spoke, the ode might read
something like the following: "Manitou! Manitou! Manitou!
Thou art great, thou art good, thou art wise: Manitou!
Manitou! Thou art just. "In the heavens, in the clouds,
oh, I see many spots -- many dark, many red: In the heavens,
oh, I see many clouds."

"In the woods, in the air, oh, I
hear the whoop, the long yell, and the cry: In the woods,
oh, I hear the loud whoop!"

"Manitou! Manitou! Manitou! I am weak -- thou art strong;
I am slow; Manitou! Manitou! Give me aid."

At the end of what might be called each verse he made a
pause, by raising a note louder and longer than common, that
was peculiarly suited to the sentiment just expressed. The
first close was solemn, and intended to convey the idea of
veneration; the second descriptive, bordering on the alarming;
and the third was the well-known and terrific war-whoop, which
burst from the lips of the young warrior, like a combination
of all the frightful sounds of battle. The last was like the
first, humble and imploring. Three times did he repeat this
song, and as often did he encircle the post in his dance.

At the close of the first turn, a grave and highly esteemed
chief of the Lenape followed his example, singing words of
his own, however, to music of a similar character. Warrior
after warrior enlisted in the dance, until all of any renown
and authority were numbered in its mazes. The spectacle now
became wildly terrific; the fierce-looking and menacing
visages of the chiefs receiving additional power from the
appalling strains in which they mingled their guttural
tones. Just then Uncas struck his tomahawk deep into the
post, and raised his voice in a shout, which might be termed
his own battle cry. The act announced that he had assumed
the chief authority in the intended expedition.

It was a signal that awakened all the slumbering passions of
the nation. A hundred youths, who had hitherto been
restrained by the diffidence of their years, rushed in a
frantic body on the fancied emblem of their enemy, and
severed it asunder, splinter by splinter, until nothing
remained of the trunk but its roots in the earth. During
this moment of tumult, the most ruthless deeds of war were
performed on the fragments of the tree, with as much
apparent ferocity as if they were the living victims of
their cruelty. Some were scalped; some received the keen
and trembling axe; and others suffered by thrusts from the
fatal knife. In short, the manifestations of zeal and
fierce delight were so great and unequivocal, that the
expedition was declared to be a war of the nation.

The instant Uncas had struck the blow, he moved out of the
circle, and cast his eyes up to the sun, which was just
gaining the point, when the truce with Magua was to end.
The fact was soon announced by a significant gesture,
accompanied by a corresponding cry; and the whole of the
excited multitude abandoned their mimic warfare, with shrill
yells of pleasure, to prepare for the more hazardous
experiment of the reality.

The whole face of the encampment was instantly changed. The
warriors, who were already armed and painted, became as
still as if they were incapable of any uncommon burst of
emotion. On the other hand, the women broke out of the
lodges, with the songs of joy and those of lamentation so
strangely mixed that it might have been difficult to have
said which passion preponderated. None, however, was idle.
Some bore their choicest articles, others their young, and
some their aged and infirm, into the forest, which spread
itself like a verdant carpet of bright green against the
side of the mountain. Thither Tamenund also retired, with
calm composure, after a short and touching interview with
Uncas; from whom the sage separated with the reluctance that
a parent would quit a long lost and just recovered child.
In the meantime, Duncan saw Alice to a place of safety, and
then sought the scout, with a countenance that denoted how
eagerly he also panted for the approaching contest.

But Hawkeye was too much accustomed to the war song and the
enlistments of the natives, to betray any interest in the
passing scene. He merely cast an occasional look at the
number and quality of the warriors, who, from time to time,
signified their readiness to accompany Uncas to the field.
In this particular he was soon satisfied; for, as has been
already seen, the power of the young chief quickly embraced
every fighting man in the nation. After this material point
was so satisfactorily decided, he despatched an Indian boy
in quest of "killdeer" and the rifle of Uncas, to the place
where they had deposited their weapons on approaching the
camp of the Delawares; a measure of double policy, inasmuch
as it protected the arms from their own fate, if detained as
prisoners, and gave them the advantage of appearing among
the strangers rather as sufferers than as men provided with
means of defense and subsistence. In selecting another to
perform the office of reclaiming his highly prized rifle,
the scout had lost sight of none of his habitual caution.
He knew that Magua had not come unattended, and he also knew
that Huron spies watched the movements of their new enemies,
along the whole boundary of the woods. It would, therefore,
have been fatal to himself to have attempted the experiment;
a warrior would have fared no better; but the danger of a
boy would not be likely to commence until after his object
was discovered. When Heyward joined him, the scout was
coolly awaiting the result of this experiment.

The boy , who had been well instructed, and was sufficiently
crafty, proceeded, with a bosom that was swelling with the
pride of such a confidence, and all the hopes of young
ambition, carelessly across the clearing to the wood, which
he entered at a point at some little distance from the place
where the guns were secreted. The instant, however, he was
concealed by the foliage of the bushes, his dusky form was
to be seen gliding, like that of a serpent, toward the
desired treasure. He was successful; and in another moment
he appeared flying across the narrow opening that skirted
the base of the terrace on which the village stood, with the
velocity of an arrow, and bearing a prize in each hand. He
had actually gained the crags, and was leaping up their
sides with incredible activity, when a shot from the woods
showed how accurate had been the judgment of the scout. The
boy answered it with a feeble but contemptuous shout; and
immediately a second bullet was sent after him from another
part of the cover. At the next instant he appeared on the
level above, elevating his guns in triumph, while he moved
with the air of a conqueror toward the renowned hunter who
had honored him by so glorious a commission.

Notwithstanding the lively interest Hawkeye had taken in the
fate of his messenger, he received "killdeer" with a
satisfaction that, momentarily, drove all other
recollections from his mind. After examining the piece with
an intelligent eye, and opening and shutting the pan some
ten or fifteen times, and trying sundry other equally
important experiments on the lock, he turned to the boy and
demanded with great manifestations of kindness, if he was
hurt. The urchin looked proudly up in his face, but made no

"Ah! I see, lad, the knaves have barked your arm!" added the
scout, taking up the limb of the patient sufferer, across
which a deep flesh wound had been made by one of the
bullets; "but a little bruised alder will act like a charm.
In the meantime I will wrap it in a badge of wampum! You
have commenced the business of a warrior early, my brave
boy, and are likely to bear a plenty of honorable scars to
your grave. I know many young men that have taken scalps
who cannot show such a mark as this. Go! " having bound up
the arm; "you will be a chief!"

The lad departed, prouder of his flowing blood than the
vainest courtier could be of his blushing ribbon; and
stalked among the fellows of his age, an object of general
admiration and envy.

But, in a moment of so many serious and important duties,
this single act of juvenile fortitude did not attract the
general notice and commendation it would have received under
milder auspices. It had, however, served to apprise the
Delawares of the position and the intentions of their
enemies. Accordingly a party of adventurers, better suited
to the task than the weak though spirited boy, was ordered
to dislodge the skulkers. The duty was soon performed; for
most of the Hurons retired of themselves when they found
they had been discovered. The Delawares followed to a
sufficient distance from their own encampment, and then
halted for orders, apprehensive of being led into an ambush.
As both parties secreted themselves, the woods were again as
still and quiet as a mild summer morning and deep solitude
could render them.

The calm but still impatient Uncas now collected his chiefs,
and divided his power. He presented Hawkeye as a warrior,
often tried, and always found deserving of confidence. When
he found his friend met with a favorable reception, he
bestowed on him the command of twenty men, like himself,
active, skillful and resolute. He gave the Delawares to
understand the rank of Heyward among the troops of the
Yengeese, and then tendered to him a trust of equal
authority. But Duncan declined the charge, professing his
readiness to serve as a volunteer by the side of the scout.
After this disposition, the young Mohican appointed various
native chiefs to fill the different situations of
responsibility, and, the time pressing, he gave forth the
word to march. He was cheerfully, but silently obeyed by
more than two hundred men.

Their entrance into the forest was perfectly unmolested; nor
did they encounter any living objects that could either give
the alarm, or furnish the intelligence they needed, until
they came upon the lairs of their own scouts. Here a halt
was ordered, and the chiefs were assembled to hold a
"whispering council."

At this meeting divers plans of operation were suggested,
though none of a character to meet the wishes of their
ardent leader. Had Uncas followed the promptings of his own
inclinations, he would have led his followers to the charge
without a moment's delay, and put the conflict to the hazard
of an instant issue; but such a course would have been in
opposition to all the received practises and opinions of his
countrymen. He was, therefore, fain to adopt a caution that
in the present temper of his mind he execrated, and to
listen to advice at which his fiery spirit chafed, under the
vivid recollection of Cora's danger and Magua's insolence.

After an unsatisfactory conference of many minutes, a
solitary individual was seen advancing from the side of the
enemy, with such apparent haste, as to induce the belief he
might be a messenger charged with pacific overtures. When
within a hundred yards, however, of the cover behind which
the Delaware council had assembled, the stranger hesitated,
appeared uncertain what course to take, and finally halted.
All eyes were turned now on Uncas, as if seeking directions
how to proceed.

"Hawkeye," said the young chief, in a low voice, "he must
never speak to the Hurons again."

"His time has come," said the laconic scout, thrusting the
long barrel of his rifle through the leaves, and taking his
deliberate and fatal aim. But, instead of pulling the
trigger, he lowered the muzzle again, and indulged himself
in a fit of his peculiar mirth. "I took the imp for a
Mingo, as I'm a miserable sinner!" he said; "but when my eye
ranged along his ribs for a place to get the bullet in --
would you think it, Uncas -- I saw the musicianer's blower;
and so, after all, it is the man they call Gamut, whose
death can profit no one, and whose life, if this tongue can
do anything but sing, may be made serviceable to our own
ends. If sounds have not lost their virtue, I'll soon have
a discourse with the honest fellow, and that in a voice
he'll find more agreeable than the speech of 'killdeer'."

So saying, Hawkeye laid aside his rifle; and, crawling
through the bushes until within hearing of David, he
attempted to repeat the musical effort, which had conducted
himself, with so much safety and eclat, through the Huron
encampment. The exquisite organs of Gamut could not readily
be deceived (and, to say the truth, it would have been
difficult for any other than Hawkeye to produce a similar
noise), and, consequently, having once before heard the
sounds, he now knew whence they proceeded. The poor fellow
appeared relieved from a state of great embarrassment; for,
pursuing the direction of the voice -- a task that to him
was not much less arduous that it would have been to have
gone up in the face of a battery -- he soon discovered the
hidden songster.

"I wonder what the Hurons will think of that!" said the
scout, laughing, as he took his companion by the arm, and
urged him toward the rear. "If the knaves lie within
earshot, they will say there are two non-compossers instead
of one! But here we are safe," he added, pointing to Uncas
and his associates. "Now give us the history of the Mingo
inventions in natural English, and without any ups and downs
of voice."

David gazed about him, at the fierce and wild-looking
chiefs, in mute wonder; but assured by the presence of faces
that he knew, he soon rallied his faculties so far as to
make an intelligent reply.

"The heathen are abroad in goodly numbers," said David;
"and, I fear, with evil intent. There has been much howling
and ungodly revelry, together with such sounds as it is
profanity to utter, in their habitations within the past
hour, so much so, in truth, that I have fled to the
Delawares in search of peace."

"Your ears might not have profited much by the exchange, had
you been quicker of foot," returned the scout a little
dryly. "But let that be as it may; where are the Hurons?"

"They lie hid in the forest, between this spot and their
village in such force, that prudence would teach you
instantly to return."

Uncas cast a glance along the range of trees which concealed
his own band and mentioned the name of:


"Is among them. He brought in the maiden that had sojourned
with the Delawares; and, leaving her in the cave, has put
himself, like a raging wolf, at the head of his savages. I
know not what has troubled his spirit so greatly!"

"He has left her, you say, in the cave!" interrupted
Heyward; "'tis well that we know its situation! May not
something be done for her instant relief?"

Uncas looked earnestly at the scout, before he asked:

"What says Hawkeye?"

"Give me twenty rifles, and I will turn to the right, along
the stream; and, passing by the huts of the beaver, will
join the Sagamore and the colonel. You shall then hear the
whoop from that quarter; with this wind one may easily send
it a mile. Then, Uncas, do you drive in the front; when
they come within range of our pieces, we will give them a
blow that, I pledge the good name of an old frontiersman,
shall make their line bend like an ashen bow. After which,
we will carry the village, and take the woman from the cave;
when the affair may be finished with the tribe, according to
a white man's battle, by a blow and a victory; or, in the
Indian fashion, with dodge and cover. There may be no great
learning, major, in this plan, but with courage and patience
it can all be done."

"I like it very much," cried Duncan, who saw that the
release of Cora was the primary object in the mind of the
scout; "I like it much. Let it be instantly attempted."

After a short conference, the plan was matured, and rendered
more intelligible to the several parties; the different
signals were appointed, and the chiefs separated, each to
his allotted station.


"But plagues shall spread, and funeral fires increase, Till
the great king, without a ransom paid, To her own Chrysa
send the black-eyed maid."--Pope

During the time Uncas was making this disposition of his
forces, the woods were as still, and, with the exception of
those who had met in council, apparently as much untenanted
as when they came fresh from the hands of their Almighty
Creator. The eye could range, in every direction, through
the long and shadowed vistas of the trees; but nowhere was
any object to be seen that did not properly belong to the
peaceful and slumbering scenery.

Here and there a bird was heard fluttering among the
branches of the beeches, and occasionally a squirrel dropped
a nut, drawing the startled looks of the party for a moment
to the place; but the instant the casual interruption
ceased, the passing air was heard murmuring above their
heads, along that verdant and undulating surface of forest,
which spread itself unbroken, unless by stream or lake, over
such a vast region of country. Across the tract of
wilderness which lay between the Delawares and the village
of their enemies, it seemed as if the foot of man had never
trodden, so breathing and deep was the silence in which it
lay. But Hawkeye, whose duty led him foremost in the
adventure, knew the character of those with whom he was
about to contend too well to trust the treacherous quiet.

When he saw his little band collected, the scout threw
"killdeer" into the hollow of his arm, and making a silent
signal that he would be followed, he led them many rods
toward the rear, into the bed of a little brook which they
had crossed in advancing. Here he halted, and after waiting
for the whole of his grave and attentive warriors to close
about him, he spoke in Delaware, demanding:

"Do any of my young men know whither this run will lead us?"

A Delaware stretched forth a hand, with the two fingers
separated, and indicating the manner in which they were
joined at the root, he answered:

"Before the sun could go his own length, the little water
will be in the big." Then he added, pointing in the
direction of the place he mentioned, "the two make enough
for the beavers."

"I thought as much," returned the scout, glancing his eye
upward at the opening in the tree-tops, "from the course it
takes, and the bearings of the mountains. Men, we will keep
within the cover of its banks till we scent the Hurons."

His companions gave the usual brief exclamation of assent,
but, perceiving that their leader was about to lead the way
in person, one or two made signs that all was not as it
should be. Hawkeye, who comprehended their meaning glances,
turned and perceived that his party had been followed thus
far by the singing-master.

"Do you know, friend," asked the scout, gravely, and perhaps
with a little of the pride of conscious deserving in his
manner, "that this is a band of rangers chosen for the most
desperate service, and put under the command of one who,
though another might say it with a better face, will not be
apt to leave them idle. It may not be five, it cannot be
thirty minutes, before we tread on the body of a Huron,
living or dead."

"Though not admonished of your intentions in words,"
returned David, whose face was a little flushed, and whose
ordinarily quiet and unmeaning eyes glimmered with an
expression of unusual fire, "your men have reminded me of
the children of Jacob going out to battle against the
Shechemites, for wickedly aspiring to wedlock with a woman
of a race that was favored of the Lord. Now, I have
journeyed far, and sojourned much in good and evil with the
maiden ye seek; and, though not a man of war, with my loins
girded and my sword sharpened, yet would I gladly strike a
blow in her behalf."

The scout hesitated, as if weighing the chances of such a
strange enlistment in his mind before he answered:

"You know not the use of any we'pon. You carry no rifle;
and believe me, what the Mingoes take they will freely give

"Though not a vaunting and bloodily disposed Goliath,"
returned David, drawing a sling from beneath his parti-
colored and uncouth attire, "I have not forgotten the
example of the Jewish boy. With this ancient instrument of
war have I practised much in my youth, and peradventure the
skill has not entirely departed from me."

"Ay!" said Hawkeye, considering the deer-skin thong and
apron, with a cold and discouraging eye; "the thing might do
its work among arrows, or even knives; but these Mengwe have
been furnished by the Frenchers with a good grooved barrel a
man. However, it seems to be your gift to go unharmed amid
fire; and as you have hitherto been favored -- major, you
have left your rifle at a cock; a single shot before the
time would be just twenty scalps lost to no purpose --
singer, you can follow; we may find use for you in the

"I thank you, friend," returned David, supplying himself,
like his royal namesake, from among the pebbles of the
brook; "though not given to the desire to kill, had you sent
me away my spirit would have been troubled."

"Remember," added the scout, tapping his own head
significantly on that spot where Gamut was yet sore, "we
come to fight, and not to musickate. Until the general
whoop is given, nothing speaks but the rifle."

David nodded, as much to signify his acquiescence with the
terms; and then Hawkeye, casting another observant glance
over this followers made the signal to proceed.

Their route lay, for the distance of a mile, along the bed
of the water-course. Though protected from any great danger
of observation by the precipitous banks, and the thick
shrubbery which skirted the stream, no precaution known to
an Indian attack was neglected. A warrior rather crawled
than walked on each flank so as to catch occasional glimpses
into the forest; and every few minutes the band came to a
halt, and listened for hostile sounds, with an acuteness of
organs that would be scarcely conceivable to a man in a less
natural state. Their march was, however, unmolested, and
they reached the point where the lesser stream was lost in
the greater, without the smallest evidence that their
progress had been noted. Here the scout again halted, to
consult the signs of the forest.

"We are likely to have a good day for a fight," he said, in
English, addressing Heyward, and glancing his eyes upward at
the clouds, which began to move in broad sheets across the
firmament; "a bright sun and a glittering barrel are no
friends to true sight. Everything is favorable; they have
the wind, which will bring down their noises and their
smoke, too, no little matter in itself; whereas, with us it
will be first a shot, and then a clear view. But here is an
end to our cover; the beavers have had the range of this
stream for hundreds of years, and what atween their food and
their dams, there is, as you see, many a girdled stub, but
few living trees."

Hawkeye had, in truth, in these few words, given no bad
description of the prospect that now lay in their front.
The brook was irregular in its width, sometimes shooting
through narrow fissures in the rocks, and at others
spreading over acres of bottom land, forming little areas
that might be termed ponds. Everywhere along its bands were
the moldering relics of dead trees, in all the stages of
decay, from those that groaned on their tottering trunks to
such as had recently been robbed of those rugged coats that
so mysteriously contain their principle of life. A few
long, low, and moss-covered piles were scattered among them,
like the memorials of a former and long-departed generation.

All these minute particulars were noted by the scout, with a
gravity and interest that they probably had never before
attracted. He knew that the Huron encampment lay a short
half mile up the brook; and, with the characteristic anxiety
of one who dreaded a hidden danger, he was greatly troubled
at not finding the smallest trace of the presence of his
enemy. Once or twice he felt induced to give the order for
a rush, and to attempt the village by surprise; but his
experience quickly admonished him of the danger of so
useless an experiment. Then he listened intently, and with
painful uncertainty, for the sounds of hostility in the
quarter where Uncas was left; but nothing was audible except
the sighing of the wind, that began to sweep over the bosom
of the forest in gusts which threatened a tempest. At
length, yielding rather to his unusual impatience than
taking counsel from his knowledge, he determined to bring
matters to an issue, by unmasking his force, and proceeding
cautiously, but steadily, up the stream.

The scout had stood, while making his observations,
sheltered by a brake, and his companions still lay in the
bed of the ravine, through which the smaller stream
debouched; but on hearing his low, though intelligible,
signal the whole party stole up the bank, like so many dark
specters, and silently arranged themselves around him.
Pointing in the direction he wished to proceed, Hawkeye
advanced, the band breaking off in single files, and
following so accurately in his footsteps, as to leave it, if
we except Heyward and David, the trail of but a single man.

The party was, however, scarcely uncovered before a volley
from a dozen rifles was heard in their rear; and a Delaware
leaping high in to the air, like a wounded deer, fell at his
whole length, dead.

"Ah, I feared some deviltry like this!" exclaimed the scout,
in English, adding, with the quickness of thought, in his
adopted tongue: "To cover, men, and charge!"

The band dispersed at the word, and before Heyward had well
recovered from his surprise, he found himself standing alone
with David. Luckily the Hurons had already fallen back, and
he was safe from their fire. But this state of things was
evidently to be of short continuance; for the scout set the
example of pressing on their retreat, by discharging his
rifle, and darting from tree to tree as his enemy slowly
yielded ground.

It would seem that the assault had been made by a very small
party of the Hurons, which, however, continued to increase
in numbers, as it retired on its friends, until the return
fire was very nearly, if not quite, equal to that maintained
by the advancing Delawares. Heyward threw himself among the
combatants, and imitating the necessary caution of his
companions, he made quick discharges with his own rifle.
The contest now grew warm and stationary. Few were injured,
as both parties kept their bodies as much protected as
possible by the trees; never, indeed, exposing any part of
their persons except in the act of taking aim. But the
chances were gradually growing unfavorable to Hawkeye and
his band. The quick-sighted scout perceived his danger
without knowing how to remedy it. He saw it was more
dangerous to retreat than to maintain his ground: while he
found his enemy throwing out men on his flank; which
rendered the task of keeping themselves covered so very
difficult to the Delawares, as nearly to silence their fire.
At this embarrassing moment, when they began to think the
whole of the hostile tribe was gradually encircling them,
they heard the yell of combatants and the rattling of arms
echoing under the arches of the wood at the place where
Uncas was posted, a bottom which, in a manner, lay beneath
the ground on which Hawkeye and his party were contending.

The effects of this attack were instantaneous, and to the
scout and his friends greatly relieving. It would seem
that, while his own surprise had been anticipated, and had
consequently failed, the enemy, in their turn, having been
deceived in its object and in his numbers, had left too
small a force to resist the impetuous onset of the young
Mohican. This fact was doubly apparent, by the rapid manner
in which the battle in the forest rolled upward toward the
village, and by an instant falling off in the number of
their assailants, who rushed to assist in maintaining the
front, and, as it now proved to be, the principal point of

Animating his followers by his voice, and his own example,
Hawkeye then gave the word to bear down upon their foes.
The charge, in that rude species of warfare, consisted
merely in pushing from cover to cover, nigher to the enemy;
and in this maneuver he was instantly and successfully
obeyed. The Hurons were compelled to withdraw, and the
scene of the contest rapidly changed from the more open
ground, on which it had commenced, to a spot where the
assailed found a thicket to rest upon. Here the struggle
was protracted, arduous and seemingly of doubtful issue; the
Delawares, though none of them fell, beginning to bleed
freely, in consequence of the disadvantage at which they
were held.

In this crisis, Hawkeye found means to get behind the same
tree as that which served for a cover to Heyward; most of
his own combatants being within call, a little on his right,
where they maintained rapid, though fruitless, discharges on
their sheltered enemies.

"You are a young man, major," said the scout, dropping the
butt of "killdeer" to the earth, and leaning on the barrel,
a little fatigued with his previous industry; "and it may be
your gift to lead armies, at some future day, ag'in these
imps, the Mingoes. You may here see the philosophy of an
Indian fight. It consists mainly in ready hand, a quick eye
and a good cover. Now, if you had a company of the Royal
Americans here, in what manner would you set them to work in
this business?"

"The bayonet would make a road."

"Ay, there is white reason in what you say; but a man must
ask himself, in this wilderness, how many lives he can
spare. No -- horse*," continued the scout, shaking his
head, like one who mused; "horse, I am ashamed to say must
sooner or later decide these scrimmages. The brutes are
better than men, and to horse must we come at last. Put a
shodden hoof on the moccasin of a red-skin, and, if his
rifle be once emptied, he will never stop to load it again."

* The American forest admits of the passage of horses,
there being little underbrush, and few tangled brakes. The
plan of Hawkeye is the one which has always proved the most
successful in the battles between the whites and the
Indians. Wayne, in his celebrated campaign on the Miami,
received the fire of his enemies in line; and then causing
his dragoons to wheel round his flanks, the Indians were
driven from their covers before they had time to load. One
of the most conspicuous of the chiefs who fought in the
battle of Miami assured the writer, that the red men could
not fight the warriors with "long knives and leather
stockings"; meaning the dragoons with their sabers and

"This is a subject that might better be discussed at another
time," returned Heyward; "shall we charge?"

"I see no contradiction to the gifts of any man in passing
his breathing spells in useful reflections," the scout
replied. "As to rush, I little relish such a measure; for a
scalp or two must be thrown away in the attempt. And yet,"
he added, bending his head aside, to catch the sounds of the
distant combat, "if we are to be of use to Uncas, these
knaves in our front must be got rid of."

Then, turning with a prompt and decided air, he called aloud
to his Indians, in their own language. His words were
answered by a shout; and, at a given signal, each warrior
made a swift movement around his particular tree. The sight
of so many dark bodies, glancing before their eyes at the
same instant, drew a hasty and consequently an ineffectual
fire from the Hurons. Without stopping to breathe, the
Delawares leaped in long bounds toward the wood, like so
many panthers springing upon their prey. Hawkeye was in
front, brandishing his terrible rifle and animating his
followers by his example. A few of the older and more
cunning Hurons, who had not been deceived by the artifice
which had been practiced to draw their fire, now made a
close and deadly discharge of their pieces and justified the
apprehensions of the scout by felling three of his foremost
warriors. But the shock was insufficient to repel the
impetus of the charge. The Delawares broke into the cover
with the ferocity of their natures and swept away every
trace of resistance by the fury of the onset.

The combat endured only for an instant, hand to hand, and
then the assailed yielded ground rapidly, until they reached
the opposite margin of the thicket, where they clung to the
cover, with the sort of obstinacy that is so often witnessed
in hunted brutes. At this critical moment, when the success
of the struggle was again becoming doubtful, the crack of a
rifle was heard behind the Hurons, and a bullet came
whizzing from among some beaver lodges, which were situated
in the clearing, in their rear, and was followed by the
fierce and appalling yell of the war-whoop.

"There speaks the Sagamore!" shouted Hawkeye, answering the
cry with his own stentorian voice; "we have them now in face
and back!"

The effect on the Hurons was instantaneous. Discouraged by
an assault from a quarter that left them no opportunity for
cover, the warriors uttered a common yell of disappointment,
and breaking off in a body, they spread themselves across
the opening, heedless of every consideration but flight.
Many fell, in making the experiment, under the bullets and
the blows of the pursuing Delawares.

We shall not pause to detail the meeting between the scout
and Chingachgook, or the more touching interview that Duncan
held with Munro. A few brief and hurried words served to
explain the state of things to both parties; and then
Hawkeye, pointing out the Sagamore to his band, resigned the
chief authority into the hands of the Mohican chief.
Chingachgook assumed the station to which his birth and
experience gave him so distinguished a claim, with the grave
dignity that always gives force to the mandates of a native
warrior. Following the footsteps of the scout, he led the
party back through the thicket, his men scalping the fallen
Hurons and secreting the bodies of their own dead as they
proceeded, until they gained a point where the former was
content to make a halt.

The warriors, who had breathed themselves freely in the
preceding struggle, were now posted on a bit of level
ground, sprinkled with trees in sufficient numbers to
conceal them. The land fell away rather precipitately in
front, and beneath their eyes stretched, for several miles,
a narrow, dark, and wooded vale. It was through this dense
and dark forest that Uncas was still contending with the
main body of the Hurons.

The Mohican and his friends advanced to the brow of the
hill, and listened, with practised ears, to the sounds of
the combat. A few birds hovered over the leafy bosom of the
valley, frightened from their secluded nests; and here and
there a light vapory cloud, which seemed already blending
with the atmosphere, arose above the trees, and indicated
some spot where the struggle had been fierce and stationary.

"The fight is coming up the ascent," said Duncan, pointing
in the direction of a new explosion of firearms; "we are too
much in the center of their line to be effective."

"They will incline into the hollow, where the cover is
thicker," said the scout, "and that will leave us well on
their flank. Go, Sagamore; you will hardly be in time to
give the whoop, and lead on the young men. I will fight
this scrimmage with warriors of my own color. You know me,
Mohican; not a Huron of them all shall cross the swell, into
your rear, without the notice of 'killdeer'."

The Indian chief paused another moment to consider the signs
of the contest, which was now rolling rapidly up the ascent,
a certain evidence that the Delawares triumphed; nor did he
actually quit the place until admonished of the proximity of
his friends, as well as enemies, by the bullets of the
former, which began to patter among the dried leaves on the
ground, like the bits of falling hail which precede the
bursting of the tempest. Hawkeye and his three companions
withdrew a few paces to a shelter, and awaited the issue
with calmness that nothing but great practise could impart
in such a scene.

It was not long before the reports of the rifles began to
lose the echoes of the woods, and to sound like weapons
discharged in the open air. Then a warrior appeared, here
and there, driven to the skirts of the forest, and rallying
as he entered the clearing, as at the place where the final
stand was to be made. These were soon joined by others,
until a long line of swarthy figures was to be seen clinging
to the cover with the obstinacy of desperation. Heyward
began to grow impatient, and turned his eyes anxiously in
the direction of Chingachgook. The chief was seated on a
rock, with nothing visible but his calm visage, considering
the spectacle with an eye as deliberate as if he were posted
there merely to view the struggle.

"The time has come for the Delaware to strike!" said Duncan.

"Not so, not so," returned the scout; "when he scents his
friends, he will let them know that he is here. See, see;
the knaves are getting in that clump of pines, like bees
settling after their flight. By the Lord, a squaw might put
a bullet into the center of such a knot of dark skins!"

At that instant the whoop was given, and a dozen Hurons fell
by a discharge from Chingachgook and his band. The shout
that followed was answered by a single war-cry from the
forest, and a yell passed through the air that sounded as if
a thousand throats were united in a common effort. The
Hurons staggered, deserting the center of their line, and
Uncas issued from the forest through the opening they left,
at the head of a hundred warriors.

Waving his hands right and left, the young chief pointed out
the enemy to his followers, who separated in pursuit. The
war now divided, both wings of the broken Hurons seeking
protection in the woods again, hotly pressed by the
victorious warriors of the Lenape. A minute might have
passed, but the sounds were already receding in different
directions, and gradually losing their distinctness beneath
the echoing arches of the woods. One little knot of Hurons,
however, had disdained to seek a cover, and were retiring,
like lions at bay, slowly and sullenly up the acclivity
which Chingachgook and his band had just deserted, to mingle
more closely in the fray. Magua was conspicuous in this
party, both by his fierce and savage mien, and by the air of
haughty authority he yet maintained.

In his eagerness to expedite the pursuit, Uncas had left
himself nearly alone; but the moment his eye caught the
figure of Le Subtil, every other consideration was
forgotten. Raising his cry of battle, which recalled some
six or seven warriors, and reckless of the disparity of
their numbers, he rushed upon his enemy. Le Renard, who
watched the movement, paused to receive him with secret joy.
But at the moment when he thought the rashness of his
impetuous young assailant had left him at his mercy, another
shout was given, and La Longue Carabine was seen rushing to
the rescue, attended by all his white associates. The Huron
instantly turned, and commenced a rapid retreat up the

There was no time for greetings or congratulations; for
Uncas, though unconscious of the presence of his friends,
continued the pursuit with the velocity of the wind. In
vain Hawkeye called to him to respect the covers; the young
Mohican braved the dangerous fire of his enemies, and soon
compelled them to a flight as swift as his own headlong
speed. It was fortunate that the race was of short
continuance, and that the white men were much favored by
their position, or the Delaware would soon have outstripped
all his companions, and fallen a victim to his own temerity.
But, ere such a calamity could happen, the pursuers and
pursued entered the Wyandot village, within striking
distance of each other.

Excited by the presence of their dwellings, and tired of the
chase, the Hurons now made a stand, and fought around their
council-lodge with the fury of despair. The onset and the
issue were like the passage and destruction of a whirlwind.
The tomahawk of Uncas, the blows of Hawkeye, and even the
still nervous arm of Munro were all busy for that passing
moment, and the ground was quickly strewed with their
enemies. Still Magua, though daring and much exposed,
escaped from every effort against his life, with that sort
of fabled protection that was made to overlook the fortunes
of favored heroes in the legends of ancient poetry. Raising
a yell that spoke volumes of anger and disappointment, the
subtle chief, when he saw his comrades fallen, darted away
from the place, attended by his two only surviving friends,
leaving the Delawares engaged in stripping the dead of the
bloody trophies of their victory.

But Uncas, who had vainly sought him in the melee, bounded
forward in pursuit; Hawkeye, Heyward and David still
pressing on his footsteps. The utmost that the scout could
effect, was to keep the muzzle of his rifle a little in
advance of his friend, to whom, however, it answered every
purpose of a charmed shield. Once Magua appeared disposed
to make another and a final effort to revenge his losses;
but, abandoning his intention as soon as demonstrated, he
leaped into a thicket of bushes, through which he was
followed by his enemies, and suddenly entered the mouth of
the cave already known to the reader. Hawkeye, who had only
forborne to fire in tenderness to Uncas, raised a shout of
success, and proclaimed aloud that now they were certain of
their game. The pursuers dashed into the long and narrow
entrance, in time to catch a glimpse of the retreating forms
of the Hurons. Their passage through the natural galleries
and subterraneous apartments of the cavern was preceded by
the shrieks and cries of hundreds of women and children.
The place, seen by its dim and uncertain light, appeared
like the shades of the infernal regions, across which
unhappy ghosts and savage demons were flitting in

Still Uncas kept his eye on Magua, as if life to him
possessed but a single object. Heyward and the scout still
pressed on his rear, actuated, though possibly in a less
degree, by a common feeling. But their way was becoming
intricate, in those dark and gloomy passages, and the
glimpses of the retiring warriors less distinct and
frequent; and for a moment the trace was believed to be
lost, when a white robe was seen fluttering in the further
extremity of a passage that seemed to lead up the mountain.

"'Tis Cora!" exclaimed Heyward, in a voice in which horror
and delight were wildly mingled.

"Cora! Cora!" echoed Uncas, bounding forward like a deer.

"'Tis the maiden!" shouted the scout. "Courage, lady; we
come! we come!"

The chase was renewed with a diligence rendered tenfold
encouraging by this glimpse of the captive. But the way was
rugged, broken, and in spots nearly impassable. Uncas
abandoned his rifle, and leaped forward with headlong
precipitation. Heyward rashly imitated his example, though
both were, a moment afterward, admonished of his madness by
hearing the bellowing of a piece, that the Hurons found time
to discharge down the passage in the rocks, the bullet from
which even gave the young Mohican a slight wound.

"We must close!" said the scout, passing his friends by a
desperate leap; "the knaves will pick us all off at this
distance; and see, they hold the maiden so as to shield

Though his words were unheeded, or rather unheard, his
example was followed by his companions, who, by incredible
exertions, got near enough to the fugitives to perceive that
Cora was borne along between the two warriors while Magua
prescribed the direction and manner of their flight. At
this moment the forms of all four were strongly drawn
against an opening in the sky, and they disappeared. Nearly
frantic with disappointment, Uncas and Heyward increased
efforts that already seemed superhuman, and they issued from
the cavern on the side of the mountain, in time to note the
route of the pursued. The course lay up the ascent, and
still continued hazardous and laborious.

Encumbered by his rifle, and, perhaps, not sustained by so
deep an interest in the captive as his companions, the scout
suffered the latter to precede him a little, Uncas, in his
turn, taking the lead of Heyward. In this manner, rocks,
precipices and difficulties were surmounted in an incredibly
short space, that at another time, and under other
circumstances, would have been deemed almost insuperable.
But the impetuous young men were rewarded by finding that,
encumbered with Cora, the Hurons were losing ground in the

"Stay, dog of the Wyandots!" exclaimed Uncas, shaking his
bright tomahawk at Magua; "a Delaware girl calls stay!"

"I will go no further!" cried Cora, stopping unexpectedly on
a ledge of rock, that overhung a deep precipice, at no great
distance from the summit of the mountain. "Kill me if thou
wilt, detestable Huron; I will go no further."

The supporters of the maiden raised their ready tomahawks
with the impious joy that fiends are thought to take in
mischief, but Magua stayed the uplifted arms. The Huron
chief, after casting the weapons he had wrested from his
companions over the rock, drew his knife, and turned to his
captive, with a look in which conflicting passions fiercely

"Woman," he said, "chose; the wigwam or the knife of Le

Cora regarded him not, but dropping on her knees, she raised
her eyes and stretched her arms toward heaven, saying in a
meek and yet confiding voice:

"I am thine; do with me as thou seest best!"

"Woman," repeated Magua, hoarsely, and endeavoring in vain
to catch a glance from her serene and beaming eye, "choose!"

But Cora neither heard nor heeded his demand. The form of
the Huron trembled in every fibre, and he raised his arm on
high, but dropped it again with a bewildered air, like one
who doubted. Once more he struggled with himself and lifted
the keen weapon again; but just then a piercing cry was
heard above them, and Uncas appeared, leaping frantically,
from a fearful height, upon the ledge. Magua recoiled a
step; and one of his assistants, profiting by the chance,
sheathed his own knife in the bosom of Cora.

The Huron sprang like a tiger on his offending and already
retreating country man, but the falling form of Uncas
separated the unnatural combatants. Diverted from his
object by this interruption, and maddened by the murder he
had just witnessed, Magua buried his weapon in the back of
the prostrate Delaware, uttering an unearthly shout as he
committed the dastardly deed. But Uncas arose from the
blow, as the wounded panther turns upon his foe, and struck
the murderer of Cora to his feet, by an effort in which the
last of his failing strength was expended. Then, with a
stern and steady look, he turned to Le Subtil, and indicated
by the expression of his eye all that he would do had not
the power deserted him. The latter seized the nerveless arm
of the unresisting Delaware, and passed his knife into his
bosom three several times, before his victim, still keeping
his gaze riveted on his enemy, with a look of
inextinguishable scorn, fell dead at his feet.

"Mercy! mercy! Huron," cried Heyward, from above, in tones
nearly choked by horror; "give mercy, and thou shalt receive
from it!"

Whirling the bloody knife up at the imploring youth, the
victorious Magua uttered a cry so fierce, so wild, and yet
so joyous, that it conveyed the sounds of savage triumph to
the ears of those who fought in the valley, a thousand feet
below. He was answered by a burst from the lips of the
scout, whose tall person was just then seen moving swiftly
toward him, along those dangerous crags, with steps as bold
and reckless as if he possessed the power to move in air.
But when the hunter reached the scene of the ruthless
massacre, the ledge was tenanted only by the dead.

His keen eye took a single look at the victims, and then
shot its glances over the difficulties of the ascent in his
front. A form stood at the brow of the mountain, on the
very edge of the giddy height, with uplifted arms, in an
awful attitude of menace. Without stopping to consider his
person, the rifle of Hawkeye was raised; but a rock, which
fell on the head of one of the fugitives below, exposed the
indignant and glowing countenance of the honest Gamut. Then
Magua issued from a crevice, and, stepping with calm
indifference over the body of the last of his associates, he
leaped a wide fissure, and ascended the rocks at a point
where the arm of David could not reach him. A single bound
would carry him to the brow of the precipice, and assure his
safety. Before taking the leap, however, the Huron paused,
and shaking his hand at the scout, he shouted:

"The pale faces are dogs! the Delawares women! Magua leaves
them on the rocks, for the crows!"

Laughing hoarsely, he made a desperate leap, and fell short
of his mark, though his hands grasped a shrub on the verge
of the height. The form of Hawkeye had crouched like a
beast about to take its spring, and his frame trembled so
violently with eagerness that the muzzle of the half-raised
rifle played like a leaf fluttering in the wind. Without
exhausting himself with fruitless efforts, the cunning Magua
suffered his body to drop to the length of his arms, and
found a fragment for his feet to rest on. Then, summoning
all his powers, he renewed the attempt, and so far succeeded
as to draw his knees on the edge of the mountain. It was
now, when the body of his enemy was most collected together,
that the agitated weapon of the scout was drawn to his
shoulder. The surrounding rocks themselves were not
steadier than the piece became, for the single instant that
it poured out its contents. The arms of the Huron relaxed,
and his body fell back a little, while his knees still kept
their position. Turning a relentless look on his enemy, he
shook a hand in grim defiance. But his hold loosened, and
his dark person was seen cutting the air with its head
downward, for a fleeting instant, until it glided past the
fringe of shrubbery which clung to the mountain, in its
rapid flight to destruction.


"They fought, like brave men, long and well, They piled that
ground with Moslem slain, They conquered--but Bozzaris
fell, Bleeding at every vein. His few surviving comrades
saw His smile when rang their loud hurrah, And the red field
was won; Then saw in death his eyelids close Calmly, as to a
night's repose, Like flowers at set of sun."--Halleck

The sun found the Lenape, on the succeeding day, a nation of
mourners. The sounds of the battle were over, and they had
fed fat their ancient grudge, and had avenged their recent
quarrel with the Mengwe, by the destruction of a whole
community. The black and murky atmosphere that floated
around the spot where the Hurons had encamped, sufficiently
announced of itself, the fate of that wandering tribe; while
hundreds of ravens, that struggled above the summits of the
mountains, or swept, in noisy flocks, across the wide ranges
of the woods, furnished a frightful direction to the scene
of the combat. In short, any eye at all practised in the
signs of a frontier warfare might easily have traced all
those unerring evidences of the ruthless results which
attend an Indian vengeance.

Still, the sun rose on the Lenape a nation of mourners. No
shouts of success, no songs of triumph, were heard, in
rejoicings for their victory. The latest straggler had
returned from his fell employment, only to strip himself of
the terrific emblems of his bloody calling, and to join in
the lamentations of his countrymen, as a stricken people.
Pride and exultation were supplanted by humility, and the
fiercest of human passions was already succeeded by the most
profound and unequivocal demonstrations of grief.

The lodges were deserted; but a broad belt of earnest faces
encircled a spot in their vicinity, whither everything
possessing life had repaired, and where all were now
collected, in deep and awful silence. Though beings of
every rank and age, of both sexes, and of all pursuits, had
united to form this breathing wall of bodies, they were
influenced by a single emotion. Each eye was riveted on the
center of that ring, which contained the objects of so much
and of so common an interest.

Six Delaware girls, with their long, dark, flowing tresses
falling loosely across their bosoms, stood apart, and only
gave proof of their existence as they occasionally strewed
sweet-scented herbs and forest flowers on a litter of
fragrant plants that, under a pall of Indian robes,
supported all that now remained of the ardent, high-souled,
and generous Cora. Her form was concealed in many wrappers
of the same simple manufacture, and her face was shut
forever from the gaze of men. At her feet was seated the
desolate Munro. His aged head was bowed nearly to the
earth, in compelled submission to the stroke of Providence;
but a hidden anguish struggled about his furrowed brow, that
was only partially concealed by the careless locks of gray
that had fallen, neglected, on his temples. Gamut stood at
his side, his meek head bared to the rays of the sun, while
his eyes, wandering and concerned, seemed to be equally
divided between that little volume, which contained so many
quaint but holy maxims, and the being in whose behalf his
soul yearned to administer consolation. Heyward was also
nigh, supporting himself against a tree, and endeavoring to
keep down those sudden risings of sorrow that it required
his utmost manhood to subdue.

But sad and melancholy as this group may easily be imagined,
it was far less touching than another, that occupied the
opposite space of the same area. Seated, as in life, with
his form and limbs arranged in grave and decent composure,
Uncas appeared, arrayed in the most gorgeous ornaments that
the wealth of the tribe could furnish. Rich plumes nodded
above his head; wampum, gorgets, bracelets, and medals,
adorned his person in profusion; though his dull eye and
vacant lineaments too strongly contradicted the idle tale of
pride they would convey.

Directly in front of the corpse Chingachgook was placed,
without arms, paint or adornment of any sort, except the
bright blue blazonry of his race, that was indelibly
impressed on his naked bosom. During the long period that
the tribe had thus been collected, the Mohican warrior had
kept a steady, anxious look on the cold and senseless
countenance of his son. So riveted and intense had been
that gaze, and so changeless his attitude, that a stranger
might not have told the living from the dead, but for the
occasional gleamings of a troubled spirit, that shot athwart
the dark visage of one, and the deathlike calm that had
forever settled on the lineaments of the other. The scout
was hard by, leaning in a pensive posture on his own fatal
and avenging weapon; while Tamenund, supported by the elders
of his nation, occupied a high place at hand, whence he
might look down on the mute and sorrowful assemblage of his

Just within the inner edge of the circle stood a soldier, in
the military attire of a strange nation; and without it was
his warhorse, in the center of a collection of mounted
domestics, seemingly in readiness to undertake some distant
journey. The vestments of the stranger announced him to be
one who held a responsible situation near the person of the
captain of the Canadas; and who, as it would now seem,
finding his errand of peace frustrated by the fierce
impetuosity of his allies, was content to become a silent
and sad spectator of the fruits of a contest that he had
arrived too late to anticipate.

The day was drawing to the close of its first quarter, and
yet had the multitude maintained its breathing stillness
since its dawn.

No sound louder than a stifled sob had been heard among
them, nor had even a limb been moved throughout that long
and painful period, except to perform the simple and
touching offerings that were made, from time to time, in
commemoration of the dead. The patience and forbearance of
Indian fortitude could alone support such an appearance of
abstraction, as seemed now to have turned each dark and
motionless figure into stone.

At length, the sage of the Delawares stretched forth an arm,
and leaning on the shoulders of his attendants, he arose
with an air as feeble as if another age had already
intervened between the man who had met his nation the
preceding day, and him who now tottered on his elevated

"Men of the Lenape!" he said, in low, hollow tones, that
sounded like a voice charged with some prophetic mission:
"the face of the Manitou is behind a cloud! His eye is
turned from you; His ears are shut; His tongue gives no
answer. You see him not; yet His judgments are before you.
Let your hearts be open and your spirits tell no lie. Men
of the Lenape! the face of the Manitou is behind a cloud."

As this simple and yet terrible annunciation stole on the
ears of the multitude, a stillness as deep and awful
succeeded as if the venerated spirit they worshiped had
uttered the words without the aid of human organs; and even
the inanimate Uncas appeared a being of life, compared with
the humbled and submissive throng by whom he was surrounded.
As the immediate effect, however, gradually passed away, a
low murmur of voices commenced a sort of chant in honor of
the dead. The sounds were those of females, and were
thrillingly soft and wailing. The words were connected by
no regular continuation, but as one ceased another took up
the eulogy, or lamentation, whichever it might be called,
and gave vent to her emotions in such language as was
suggested by her feelings and the occasion. At intervals
the speaker was interrupted by general and loud bursts of
sorrow, during which the girls around the bier of Cora
plucked the plants and flowers blindly from her body, as if
bewildered with grief. But, in the milder moments of their
plaint, these emblems of purity and sweetness were cast back
to their places, with every sign of tenderness and regret.
Though rendered less connected by many and general
interruptions and outbreakings, a translation of their
language would have contained a regular descant, which, in
substance, might have proved to possess a train of
consecutive ideas.

A girl, selected for the task by her rank and
qualifications, commenced by modest allusions to the
qualities of the deceased warrior, embellishing her
expressions with those oriental images that the Indians have
probably brought with them from the extremes of the other
continent, and which form of themselves a link to connect
the ancient histories of the two worlds. She called him the
"panther of his tribe"; and described him as one whose
moccasin left no trail on the dews; whose bound was like the
leap of a young fawn; whose eye was brighter than a star in
the dark night; and whose voice, in battle, was loud as the
thunder of the Manitou. She reminded him of the mother who
bore him, and dwelt forcibly on the happiness she must feel
in possessing such a son. She bade him tell her, when they
met in the world of spirits, that the Delaware girls had
shed tears above the grave of her child, and had called her

Then, they who succeeded, changing their tones to a milder
and still more tender strain, alluded, with the delicacy and
sensitiveness of women, to the stranger maiden, who had left
the upper earth at a time so near his own departure, as to
render the will of the Great Spirit too manifest to be
disregarded. They admonished him to be kind to her, and to
have consideration for her ignorance of those arts which
were so necessary to the comfort of a warrior like himself.
They dwelled upon her matchless beauty, and on her noble
resolution, without the taint of envy, and as angels may be
thought to delight in a superior excellence; adding, that
these endowments should prove more than equivalent for any
little imperfection in her education.

After which, others again, in due succession, spoke to the
maiden herself, in the low, soft language of tenderness and
love. They exhorted her to be of cheerful mind, and to fear
nothing for her future welfare. A hunter would be her
companion, who knew how to provide for her smallest wants;
and a warrior was at her side who was able to protect he
against every danger. They promised that her path should be
pleasant, and her burden light. They cautioned her against
unavailing regrets for the friends of her youth, and the
scenes where her father had dwelt; assuring her that the
"blessed hunting grounds of the Lenape," contained vales as
pleasant, streams as pure; and flowers as sweet, as the
"heaven of the pale faces." They advised her to be
attentive to the wants of her companion, and never to forget
the distinction which the Manitou had so wisely established
between them. Then, in a wild burst of their chant they
sang with united voices the temper of the Mohican's mind.
They pronounced him noble, manly and generous; all that
became a warrior, and all that a maid might love. Clothing
their ideas in the most remote and subtle images, they
betrayed, that, in the short period of their intercourse,
they had discovered, with the intuitive perception of their
sex, the truant disposition of his inclinations. The
Delaware girls had found no favor in his eyes! He was of a
race that had once been lords on the shores of the salt
lake, and his wishes had led him back to a people who dwelt
about the graves of his fathers. Why should not such a
predilection be encouraged! That she was of a blood purer
and richer than the rest of her nation, any eye might have
seen; that she was equal to the dangers and daring of a life
in the woods, her conduct had proved; and now, they added,
the "wise one of the earth" had transplanted her to a place
where she would find congenial spirits, and might be forever

Then, with another transition in voice and subject,
allusions were made to the virgin who wept in the adjacent
lodge. They compared her to flakes of snow; as pure, as
white, as brilliant, and as liable to melt in the fierce
heats of summer, or congeal in the frosts of winter. They
doubted not that she was lovely in the eyes of the young
chief, whose skin and whose sorrow seemed so like her own;
but though far from expressing such a preference, it was
evident they deemed her less excellent than the maid they
mourned. Still they denied her no need her rare charms
might properly claim. Her ringlets were compared to the
exuberant tendrils of the vine, her eye to the blue vault of
heavens, and the most spotless cloud, with its glowing flush
of the sun, was admitted to be less attractive than her

During these and similar songs nothing was audible but the
murmurs of the music; relieved, as it was, or rather
rendered terrible, by those occasional bursts of grief which
might be called its choruses. The Delawares themselves
listened like charmed men; and it was very apparent, by the
variations of their speaking countenances, how deep and true
was their sympathy. Even David was not reluctant to lend
his ears to the tones of voices so sweet; and long ere the
chant was ended, his gaze announced that his soul was

The scout, to whom alone, of all the white men, the words
were intelligible, suffered himself to be a little aroused
from his meditative posture, and bent his face aside, to
catch their meaning, as the girls proceeded. But when they
spoke of the future prospects of Cora and Uncas, he shook
his head, like one who knew the error of their simple creed,
and resuming his reclining attitude, he maintained it until
the ceremony, if that might be called a ceremony, in which
feeling was so deeply imbued, was finished. Happily for the
self-command of both Heyward and Munro, they knew not the
meaning of the wild sounds they heard.

Chingachgook was a solitary exception to the interest
manifested by the native part of the audience. His look
never changed throughout the whole of the scene, nor did a
muscle move in his rigid countenance, even at the wildest or
the most pathetic parts of the lamentation. The cold and
senseless remains of his son was all to him, and every other
sense but that of sight seemed frozen, in order that his
eyes might take their final gaze at those lineaments he had
so long loved, and which were now about to be closed forever
from his view.

In this stage of the obsequies, a warrior much renowned for
deed in arms, and more especially for services in the recent
combat, a man of stern and grave demeanor, advanced slowly
from the crowd, and placed himself nigh the person of the

"Why hast thou left us, pride of the Wapanachki?" he said,
addressing himself to the dull ears of Uncas, as if the
empty clay retained the faculties of the animated man; "thy
time has been like that of the sun when in the trees; thy
glory brighter than his light at noonday. Thou art gone,
youthful warrior, but a hundred Wyandots are clearing the
briers from thy path to the world of the spirits. Who that
saw thee in battle would believe that thou couldst die? Who
before thee has ever shown Uttawa the way into the fight?
Thy feet were like the wings of eagles; thine arm heavier
than falling branches from the pine; and thy voice like the
Manitou when He speaks in the clouds. The tongue of Uttawa
is weak," he added, looking about him with a melancholy
gaze, "and his heart exceeding heavy. Pride of the
Wapanachki, why hast thou left us?"

He was succeeded by others, in due order, until most of the
high and gifted men of the nation had sung or spoken their
tribute of praise over the manes of the deceased chief.
When each had ended, another deep and breathing silence
reigned in all the place.

Then a low, deep sound was heard, like the suppressed
accompaniment of distant music, rising just high enough on
the air to be audible, and yet so indistinctly, as to leave
its character, and the place whence it proceeded, alike
matters of conjecture. It was, however, succeeded by
another and another strain, each in a higher key, until they
grew on the ear, first in long drawn and often repeated
interjections, and finally in words. The lips of
Chingachgook had so far parted, as to announce that it was
the monody of the father. Though not an eye was turned
toward him nor the smallest sign of impatience exhibited, it
was apparent, by the manner in which the multitude elevated
their heads to listen, that they drank in the sounds with an
intenseness of attention, that none but Tamenund himself had
ever before commanded. But they listened in vain. The
strains rose just so loud as to become intelligible, and
then grew fainter and more trembling, until they finally
sank on the ear, as if borne away by a passing breath of
wind. The lips of the Sagamore closed, and he remained
silent in his seat, looking with his riveted eye and
motionless form, like some creature that had been turned
from the Almighty hand with the form but without the spirit
of a man. The Delawares who knew by these symptoms that the
mind of their friend was not prepared for so mighty an
effort of fortitude, relaxed in their attention; and, with
an innate delicacy, seemed to bestow all their thoughts on
the obsequies of the stranger maiden.

A signal was given, by one of the elder chiefs, to the women
who crowded that part of the circle near which the body of
Cora lay. Obedient to the sign, the girls raised the bier
to the elevation of their heads, and advanced with slow and
regulated steps, chanting, as they proceeded, another
wailing song in praise of the deceased. Gamut, who had been
a close observer of rites he deemed so heathenish, now bent
his head over the shoulder of the unconscious father,

"They move with the remains of thy child; shall we not
follow, and see them interred with Christian burial?"

Munro started, as if the last trumpet had sounded in his
ear, and bestowing one anxious and hurried glance around
him, he arose and followed in the simple train, with the
mien of a soldier, but bearing the full burden of a parent's
suffering. His friends pressed around him with a sorrow
that was too strong to be termed sympathy -- even the young
Frenchman joining in the procession, with the air of a man
who was sensibly touched at the early and melancholy fate of
one so lovely. But when the last and humblest female of the
tribe had joined in the wild and yet ordered array, the men
of the Lenape contracted their circle, and formed again
around the person of Uncas, as silent, as grave, and as
motionless as before.

The place which had been chosen for the grave of Cora was a
little knoll, where a cluster of young and healthful pines
had taken root, forming of themselves a melancholy and
appropriate shade over the spot. On reaching it the girls
deposited their burden, and continued for many minutes
waiting, with characteristic patience, and native timidity,
for some evidence that they whose feelings were most
concerned were content with the arrangement. At length the
scout, who alone understood their habits, said, in their own

"My daughters have done well; the white men thank them."

Satisfied with this testimony in their favor, the girls
proceeded to deposit the body in a shell, ingeniously, and
not inelegantly, fabricated of the bark of the birch; after
which they lowered it into its dark and final abode. The
ceremony of covering the remains, and concealing the marks
of the fresh earth, by leaves and other natural and
customary objects, was conducted with the same simple and
silent forms. But when the labors of the kind beings who
had performed these sad and friendly offices were so far
completed, they hesitated, in a way to show that they knew
not how much further they might proceed. It was in this
stage of the rites that the scout again addressed them:

"My young women have done enough," he said: "the spirit of
the pale face has no need of food or raiment, their gifts
being according to the heaven of their color. I see," he
added, glancing an eye at David, who was preparing his book
in a manner that indicated an intention to lead the way in
sacred song, "that one who better knows the Christian
fashions is about to speak."

The females stood modestly aside, and, from having been the
principal actors in the scene, they now became the meek and
attentive observers of that which followed. During the time
David occupied in pouring out the pious feelings of his
spirit in this manner, not a sign of surprise, nor a look of
impatience, escaped them. They listened like those who knew
the meaning of the strange words, and appeared as if they
felt the mingled emotions of sorrow, hope, and resignation,
they were intended to convey.

Excited by the scene he had just witnessed, and perhaps
influenced by his own secret emotions, the master of song
exceeded his usual efforts. His full rich voice was not
found to suffer by a comparison with the soft tones of the
girls; and his more modulated strains possessed, at least
for the ears of those to whom they were peculiarly
addressed, the additional power of intelligence. He ended
the anthem, as he had commenced it, in the midst of a grave
and solemn stillness.

When, however, the closing cadence had fallen on the ears of
his auditors, the secret, timorous glances of the eyes, and
the general and yet subdued movement of the assemblage,
betrayed that something was expected from the father of the
deceased. Munro seemed sensible that the time was come for
him to exert what is, perhaps, the greatest effort of which
human nature is capable. He bared his gray locks, and
looked around the timid and quiet throng by which he was
encircled, with a firm and collected countenance. Then,
motioning with his hand for the scout to listen, he said:

"Say to these kind and gentle females, that a heart-broken
and failing man returns them his thanks. Tell them, that
the Being we all worship, under different names, will be
mindful of their charity; and that the time shall not be
distant when we may assemble around His throne without
distinction of sex, or rank, or color."

The scout listened to the tremulous voice in which the
veteran delivered these words, and shook his head slowly
when they were ended, as one who doubted their efficacy.

"To tell them this," he said, "would be to tell them that
the snows come not in the winter, or that the sun shines
fiercest when the trees are stripped of their leaves."

Then turning to the women, he made such a communication of
the other's gratitude as he deemed most suited to the
capacities of his listeners. The head of Munro had already
sunk upon his chest, and he was again fast relapsing into
melancholy, when the young Frenchman before named ventured
to touch him lightly on the elbow. As soon as he had gained
the attention of the mourning old man, he pointed toward a
group of young Indians, who approached with a light but
closely covered litter, and then pointed upward toward the

"I understand you, sir," returned Munro, with a voice of
forced firmness; "I understand you. It is the will of
Heaven, and I submit. Cora, my child! if the prayers of a
heart-broken father could avail thee now, how blessed
shouldst thou be! Come, gentlemen," he added, looking about
him with an air of lofty composure, though the anguish that
quivered in his faded countenance was far too powerful to be
concealed, "our duty here is ended; let us depart."

Heyward gladly obeyed a summons that took them from a spot
where, each instant, he felt his self-control was about to
desert him. While his companions were mounting, however, he
found time to press the hand of the scout, and to repeat the
terms of an engagement they had made to meet again within
the posts of the British army. Then, gladly throwing
himself into the saddle, he spurred his charger to the side
of the litter, whence low and stifled sobs alone announced
the presence of Alice. In this manner, the head of Munro
again drooping on his bosom, with Heyward and David
following in sorrowing silence, and attended by the aide of
Montcalm with his guard, all the white men, with the
exception of Hawkeye, passed from before the eyes of the
Delawares, and were buried in the vast forests of that

But the tie which, through their common calamity, had united
the feelings of these simple dwellers in the woods with the
strangers who had thus transiently visited them, was not so
easily broken. Years passed away before the traditionary
tale of the white maiden, and of the young warrior of the
Mohicans ceased to beguile the long nights and tedious
marches, or to animate their youthful and brave with a
desire for vengeance. Neither were the secondary actors in
these momentous incidents forgotten. Through the medium of
the scout, who served for years afterward as a link between
them and civilized life, they learned, in answer to their
inquiries, that the "Gray Head" was speedily gathered to his
fathers -- borne down, as was erroneously believed, by his
military misfortunes; and that the "Open Hand" had conveyed
his surviving daughter far into the settlements of the pale
faces, where her tears had at last ceased to flow, and had
been succeeded by the bright smiles which were better suited
to her joyous nature.

But these were events of a time later than that which
concerns our tale. Deserted by all of his color, Hawkeye
returned to the spot where his sympathies led him, with a
force that no ideal bond of union could destroy. He was
just in time to catch a parting look of the features of
Uncas, whom the Delawares were already inclosing in his last
vestment of skins. They paused to permit the longing and
lingering gaze of the sturdy woodsman, and when it was
ended, the body was enveloped, never to be unclosed again.
Then came a procession like the other, and the whole nation
was collected about the temporary grave of the chief --
temporary, because it was proper that, at some future day,
his bones should rest among those of his own people.

The movement, like the feeling, had been simultaneous and
general. The same grave expression of grief, the same rigid
silence, and the same deference to the principal mourner,
were observed around the place of interment as have been
already described. The body was deposited in an attitude of
repose, facing the rising sun, with the implements of war
and of the chase at hand, in readiness for the final
journey. An opening was left in the shell, by which it was
protected from the soil, for the spirit to communicate with
its earthly tenement, when necessary; and the whole was
concealed from the instinct, and protected from the ravages
of the beasts of prey, with an ingenuity peculiar to the
natives. The manual rites then ceased and all present
reverted to the more spiritual part of the ceremonies.

Chingachgook became once more the object of the common
attention. He had not yet spoken, and something consolatory
and instructive was expected from so renowned a chief on an
occasion of such interest. Conscious of the wishes of the
people, the stern and self-restrained warrior raised his
face, which had latterly been buried in his robe, and looked
about him with a steady eye. His firmly compressed and
expressive lips then severed, and for the first time during
the long ceremonies his voice was distinctly audible. "Why
do my brothers mourn?" he said, regarding the dark race of
dejected warriors by whom he was environed; "why do my
daughters weep? that a young man has gone to the happy
hunting-grounds; that a chief has filled his time with
honor? He was good; he was dutiful; he was brave. Who can
deny it? The Manitou had need of such a warrior, and He has
called him away. As for me, the son and the father of
Uncas, I am a blazed pine, in a clearing of the pale faces.
My race has gone from the shores of the salt lake and the
hills of the Delawares. But who can say that the serpent of
his tribe has forgotten his wisdom? I am alone --"

"No, no," cried Hawkeye, who had been gazing with a yearning
look at the rigid features of his friend, with something
like his own self-command, but whose philosophy could endure
no longer; "no, Sagamore, not alone. The gifts of our
colors may be different, but God has so placed us as to
journey in the same path. I have no kin, and I may also
say, like you, no people. He was your son, and a red-skin
by nature; and it may be that your blood was nearer -- but,
if ever I forget the lad who has so often fou't at my side
in war, and slept at my side in peace, may He who made us
all, whatever may be our color or our gifts, forget me! The
boy has left us for a time; but, Sagamore, you are not

Chingachgook grasped the hand that, in the warmth of
feeling, the scout had stretched across the fresh earth, and
in an attitude of friendship these two sturdy and intrepid
woodsmen bowed their heads together, while scalding tears
fell to their feet, watering the grave of Uncas like drops
of falling rain.

In the midst of the awful stillness with which such a burst
of feeling, coming as it did, from the two most renowned
warriors of that region, was received, Tamenund lifted his
voice to disperse the multitude.

"It is enough," he said. "Go, children of the Lenape, the
anger of the Manitou is not done. Why should Tamenund stay?
The pale faces are masters of the earth, and the time of the
red men has not yet come again. My day has been too long.
In the morning I saw the sons of Unamis happy and strong;
and yet, before the night has come, have I lived to see the
last warrior of the wise race of the Mohicans."

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