Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Last of the Mohicans Summary

We continue our series of great literature with a summary of The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper:

Chapter I:

The novel takes place during the third year of the French and Indian War. The narrator explains that the land itself, populated by hostile Indian tribes, is as dangerous as the war. The armies do not want to battle, and the unpredictability of the terrain unnerves them. The French general Montcalm has allied himself with several of the Indian tribes native to America and is moving a large army south in an attempt to take Fort William Henry from the British. Magua, an Indian scout, intercepts the information about the impending attack on the fort and relays it to the British General Webb, to whom he is loyal. Webb decides to send reinforcements to Fort William Henry to help Colonel Munro, who commands the fort. Shortly after the reinforcements leave for Fort William Henry, Webb dispatches the young Major Heyward to accompany Alice and Cora Munro, the colonel’s daughters, who insist upon visiting their father. As they leave, an Indian runner dashes by them. Alice watches him with mixed admiration and repulsion.

Chapter II:

The Indian runner, whose name is Magua, agrees to guide Heyward and the young women to Fort William Henry by means of a shortcut known only to the Indians. Soon after they leave Fort Edward, they meet a stranger. We later learn his name is David Gamut. Gamut is a psalmodist, a man who worships by singing Old Testament psalms. The mincing and dainty Gamut is out of place in the menacing forest. He left Fort Edward and lost his way. He announces his intention to join the group. Annoyed at Gamut’s presumption, Heyward nevertheless shows interest in Gamut’s claim to be an instructor, and asks Gamut if he is a mathematician or a scientist. Gamut replies humbly that he knows only the limited insights of psalmody, the then-popular practice of setting biblical teachings to music.

Cora is amused by the stranger. Gamut joins their party and sings a religious song native to New England. He behaves seriously and venerably, as though delivering a sermon, and accompanies his psalmody with dramatic hand gestures. Magua eventually interrupts this performance, muttering a few words to Heyward, who translates his words to the others: they must be silent since hostile Indian tribes fill the forest.

Major Heyward quickly and confidently scans the forest, pleased that he sees no sign of Indians. His unfamiliarity with the forest makes him unable to see what the trees hide, and he does not notice a wild-eyed Indian peering out at them through the branches.

Chapter III

The narrator shifts the focus of attention from Magua and his party to another group of people in another part of the forest, a few miles west by the river. We meet the remaining primary characters: Hawkeye, a white hunter, and Chingachgook, his Mohican ally. Though both men are hunters, they dress differently. Hawkeye wears a hunting shirt, a skin cap, and buckskin leggings; he carries a knife, a pouch, and a horn. Chingachgook is almost naked and covered in war-paint. Both men carry weapons. Hawkeye carries a long rifle, and Chingachgook carries a short rifle and a tomahawk. They discuss the historical developments that have caused them to both inhabit the same forest. Hawkeye proclaims his inheritance of a genuine and enduring whiteness, and Chingachgook laments the demise of his tribe of Mohicans. Of the Mohican tribe, only Chingachgook and his son remain. At this mention of the diminishing tribe, Chingachgook’s son Uncas appears and reports that he has been trailing the Maquas, the Iroquois enemies of the Mohicans. When the antlers of a deer appear in the distance, Hawkeye wants to shoot the animal, but then realizes that the noise of the rifle will draw the attention of the enemy. In the place of the long rifle, Uncas uses an arrow to kill the deer. Shortly thereafter, Chingachgook detects the sound of horses approaching.

Chapter IV

Heyward and his party encounter Hawkeye. When Hawkeye questions the group, Heyward and Gamut explain that their guide, Magua, has led them away from their desired destination. Hawkeye finds this explanation suspicious, because he does not believe that an Indian could be lost in the forest that is his home. He thinks his suspicions are justified when he learns that Magua is a Huron. Hawkeye describes the Huron tribe as untrustworthy, unlike the Mohican or Delaware tribes. After learning that Heyward is the major of the 60th regiment of the king at Fort William Henry, Hawkeye considers punishing Magua for treachery. Though Hawkeye considers shooting Magua on the spot, so that the traitor will not accompany the party to Fort William Henry, Heyward opposes that violence. Instead of shooting Magua, Heyward approaches him while Chingachgook and Uncas surround him. So that Magua will not suspect the plot to capture him, Heyward engages Magua in conversation. As they talk, Magua discloses the name he prefers: Le Renard Subtil (The Subtle Fox). Magua feels suspicious of Heyward, but eventually he warms to him and agrees to sit and eat. Sounds in the forest make Magua agitated, and Heyward dismounts and makes a move to capture the guide. Magua cries out and darts away from Heyward just as Chingachgook and Uncas emerge from the thickets and give chase. Hawkeye, meanwhile, fires his rife toward the escaping Huron.

Chapter V

Magua escapes from Heyward and Hawkeye, but Hawkeye finds blood on a sumac leaf and realizes that his rifle shot has wounded the fleeing Indian. Heyward wants to chase Magua, but Hawkeye resists, upset that he has fired his rifle and perhaps incited the unseen enemy. Moreover, the others are anxious to reach a safe place as night approaches. Uncas suggests that they retreat to the Mohicans’ secret hideout in the forest. Once Heyward promises not to reveal this location to his English troops, they proceed there. The noise their horses make poses a danger in the forest. When Gamut’s colt makes too much noise, the Mohicans kill it and dispose of the body in the river. Gamut shows great remorse at this violence, and Hawkeye respects his sorrow. They hide the remaining horses and travel upstream toward a waterfall, pushing the young women in a canoe. When they reach the falls, Hawkeye reflects that the horses seemed nervous, as though they could smell wolves in the night. This suggests that Indians might be near, since wolves appear to feed on deer killed by Indians. Gamut sings a sad song in memory of his colt, and the two Mohicans and Hawkeye vanish, as though disappearing into a rock.

Chapter VI:

Those left behind soon see that the Mohicans have entered their secret hideout, a cavern in the falls concealed by a blanket. Hawkeye lights a pine bough, and the light reveals the hideout to be an island of rock amid the streaming falls. The group eats a meal of venison. Uncas serves the two Munro sisters, showing more interest in Cora than in Alice. Hawkeye continues to worry about Gamut’s mourning and produces a keg to cheer him. The group again inquires about Gamut’s curious profession. Gamut and the women sing a religious song that affects Hawkeye powerfully. He nostalgically recalls his childhood in populated settlements. Amid this sentiment and calm reflection, a strange cry pierces the night. Uncas slips outside to investigate, but he sees nothing that could have produced the haunting sound. Heyward, Cora, and Alice withdraw into an inner cave for protection during sleep. Suddenly, the strange sound recurs. For the first time, Cora laments the decision to join her father at his fort. Hawkeye comes back from investigating the noise, and the others can see mystification on his face.

Chapter VII

Hawkeye believes the group has heard cries of warning, and the party hurries out of the cave. As Heyward describes the loveliness of the natural landscape, another shrieking cry pierces the calm. Heyward then realizes that the cry is the sound of a horse screaming in fear, perhaps because wolves have approached it. The howl of a nearby wolf proves Heyward right. The group hears the wolves recede into the forest as if scared off, which makes Hawkeye think that Indian enemies are nearby. Obeying Hawkeye’s confident instructions, the group hides in the deep moon shadows, and all but Hawkeye and the Mohicans soon fall asleep.

Chapter VIII:

Just before dawn, the Iroquois attack with rifles and wound Gamut. Chingachgook returns fire. Heyward takes Cora, Alice, and Gamut to the protection of the outer cave. Hawkeye fights valiantly throughout the day. He believes their only hope is to defend the rock until Munro sends reinforcements. Dawn approaches, and a long, quiet watch begins. Hawkeye and Heyward hide in the thickets to monitor the enemy. Hawkeye detects four Indians swimming dangerously close to the rock. Hawkeye calls to Uncas for assistance, and another battle begins. When an Indian wounds Heyward slightly, firing down from an oak tree, Hawkeye retaliates with his rifle, which he calls Killdeer. However, the shot only wounds the Indian.

Hawkeye’s first impulse is to show no mercy, but he uses his last bullet and gunpowder to kill the Indian and end his suffering. Uncas looks for more ammunition but discovers it has been stolen by the Iroquois. Outnumbered and outgunned, the group feels defeated until Cora suggests a plan. She proposes that the men escape down the river. The Indians will not kill the women, and the men can rescue them later. Chingachgook slips into the river and swims away, followed immediately by Hawkeye, who must leave behind his rifle. Though Uncas does not wish to leave Cora, she urges him to go to her father as her personal messenger, at which point he too slips into the river. Heyward refuses to go, saying that his presence may preserve the safety of the girls.

Chapter IX

Heyward, Cora, Alice, and the wounded Gamut huddle together in the deepest part of the cave, awaiting their capture. Outside, Indian voices shout, “La Longue Carabine!” (The Long Rifle), a name Heyward recognizes. He realizes that Hawkeye is the famous hunter and scout called La Longue Carabine, celebrated throughout the English army. The Indians enter the cavern, but they do not see the group hidden behind a blanket. The Indians express outrage at the discovery of their dead allies and frustration that they do not see comparable numbers of dead enemies. The English party begins to think they will escape, when suddenly Magua discovers them. Heyward tries to shoot Magua, but he misses. As a result of this failed assassination, the whites become prisoners, dragged outside by the Hurons.

Chapter X

Though the Hurons at first threaten to kill Heyward, they detain him for questioning. Heyward relies upon Magua for interpretation and finally convinces his captors that Hawkeye and his Mohican allies have escaped. This exasperating knowledge nearly causes the angry Hurons to murder Alice. Before violence occurs, however, the Huron chief calls a tribal council and decides to move the entire party to the south bank of the river. While Magua takes charge of the white prisoners, Heyward tells Magua that he believes Magua sought to deceive the Huron nation for private gain. Though he does not deny Heyward’s allegations, Magua does not admit to them either. Meanwhile, Cora attempts to leave behind a trail of signals, but the Indians discover her attempts and threaten her. Magua silently guides the prisoners to a steep hill, perfect for both defense and attack.

Chapter XI

Heyward tries again to convert Magua to their side by asking him to spare the women for the sake of their father, but Magua shows signs of intensifying malice. He quickly demands a private caucus with Cora and reveals that he seeks revenge on Colonel Munro and rejoices in the kidnapping of Munro’s daughters. The traitorous Indian explains that he was once a chief, but his tribe drove him out when he learned to drink firewater. He alleges that Colonel Munro once had him whipped for coming into camp drunk and now wishes to marry Cora in order to revenge himself on Munro. Magua promises he will release Alice if Cora agrees to the marriage. Cora refuses, and Magua exhorts the other Hurons to torture the prisoners. The Hurons ties their captives to stakes. When Magua cuts off some of Alice’s curls with his hatchet, Heyward breaks his bonds and attacks an Indian. The Hurons are about to kill Heyward when suddenly the crack of a rifle pierces the air, and Heyward’s assailant falls to the ground dead.

Chapter XII

A fight breaks out as Hawkeye and the Mohicans attack the Hurons, whose rifles have been set aside. In the battle, Uncas saves Cora and Chingachgook becomes locked in hand-to-hand combat with Magua, who escapes only by feigning his own death. Hawkeye and the Mohicans soundly defeat the remaining Hurons and free the prisoners. Chingachgook scalps the dead victims, while Heyward and Uncas ensure the well-being of Cora and Alice. After Hawkeye releases Gamut, they argue about the efficacy of prayer-song. Hawkeye cites the pragmatic necessities of battle to urge the psalmodist to abandon the useless weapon of the pitch pipe. Resisting Hawkeye’s logic, Gamut responds by citing the religious doctrine of predetermination and singing another song. Ignoring the performance, Hawkeye reloads his rifle, and the group begins to travel northward toward Fort William Henry. Hawkeye explains that with the brilliant aid of Uncas he and Chingachgook succeeded in tracking the Hurons for twenty miles.

Chapter XIII

The party travels to a ruined blockhouse where Chingachgook and Hawkeye won a battle many years before. The memorial site spurs Hawkeye to describe the Mohicans as the last of their tribe. The group, with the exception of Chingachgook, sleeps until nightfall, when sounds of nearby enemies cause alarm. The sounds they hear are made by the Hurons, who have lost their way. Two Indians approach, but their respect for the memorial site keeps them away. After the Hurons depart, the group continues toward the fort.

Chapter XIV

The group treads barefoot through a stream in order to hide its tracks. They pass a pond, and Hawkeye tells the group it is filled with corpses of slain French soldiers. As they near the besieged Fort William Henry, they encounter a French sentinel. Heyward talks to him in French, distracting him while Chingachgook sneaks up to the sentinel, kills him, and scalps him. Firing breaks out between English troops protecting the fort and French forces, and the crossfire puts the party in danger. Thick fog conceals them, however, and they attempt to find their way to the fort through the sounds of battle. The French forces pursue them, but they arrive at the fort safely. As they enter the fort, Colonel Munro weeps and embraces his daughters.

Chapter XV

Five days into the siege of Fort William Henry, Heyward discovers that the French have captured Hawkeye. Inside the fort, Heyward sees Alice, who teases him for not seeing her and her sister enough, and Cora, who seems distressed. Though the French forces eventually release Hawkeye, the French leader Montcalm keeps the letter that Hawkeye carried from General Webb. Montcalm requests a meeting with Munro, but Munro sends Heyward in his place. The French general urges Major Heyward to surrender, reminding him that France’s bloodthirsty Indian allies are difficult to hold in check.

Chapter XVI

Heyward goes to find Munro, planning to report Montcalm’s message that the English should surrender. He finds Munro idling with his daughters. To Heyward’s surprise, Munro seems uninterested in Montcalm’s proposal. He accuses Heyward of racism for preferring Alice to Cora. Munro reveals that Cora and Alice have different mothers. Cora’s mother, Munro’s first wife, was from the West Indies and was part “Negro.” When Munro’s first wife died, he returned to Scotland and married his childhood sweetheart. Heyward heartily denies that he thinks less of Cora because of her mixed race, but silently he admits his racism. Munro and Heyward return to the French encampment to meet with Montcalm, who hands over Webb’s letter advising Munro to surrender the fort to the French. Montcalm tells Munro that if the English surrender, they will get to keep their arms, baggage, and colors, and the French will ensure that the Indians do not attack them. Munro accepts the offer and leaves Heyward to finalize the details.

Chapter XVII

After dawn, the English slowly file out of the fort, surrounded by columns of solemn French soldiers and leering Indians. One of the Indians tries to take a shawl from an Englishwoman as she passes by. When she pulls the shawl away from him, he seizes her baby and smashes it against the rocks. Then he sinks his tomahawk into the mother’s skull. Magua begins yelling the frenzied Indian war whoop, and the Indians attack the English, slaughtering them and drinking their blood. Munro storms through the battle to find Montcalm, ignoring even Alice’s cries for help. Magua sees Alice fainting and hurries away with her. Cora chases after him, followed by Gamut, who has been singing throughout the battle in order to confuse the Indians and keep them away from the young women. As the battle abates, the Indians begin looting the bodies of their victims.

Chapter XVIII

On the third day after the surprise attack, Hawkeye, the Mohicans, Munro, and Heyward approach the besieged ramparts, which still smoke with fire and smell of death. Cora and Alice remain missing, and the men desperately seek for signs of life. They find no apparent signals or codes. When they begin looking for a trail, Uncas discovers part of Cora’s green riding veil. Other clues lead the men to the former location of the horses, and they conclude that the girls, accompanied by Magua and Gamut, have gone into the wilderness. Heyward wants to pursue them immediately, but Hawkeye insists upon careful deliberation and planning. Munro, depressed by his daughters’ disappearance, is apathetic.

Chapter XIX

The group spends the night around a fire in the desolate ruins of the fort. They eat bear meat for dinner. Looking out at the lake, Heyward hears noises. Uncas explain that wolves are prowling nearby. Hawkeye is pondering the meaning of paradise when he hears another sound. Uncas goes to investigate, and the group hears a rifle shot. Chingachgook follows his son, and those left behind hear a splash of water and another rifle shot. Chingachgook and Uncas return calmly. When Heyward asks what happened, Uncas shows him the scalp of an Oneida. After discussing the plan for the next day, the group falls asleep.

Chapter XX

Hawkeye convinces the others to head north across a lake. As they travel across the lake in a light canoe, they are spotted and soon tailed by Huron canoes. The group’s superior paddling tactics enable them to outpace their enemies, and Hawkeye manages to wound one pursuer with Killdeer, his long-range rifle. Upon reaching the northern shore, the men move eastward in an attempt to deceive the enemy. Carrying the canoe on their shoulders, they leave an obvious trail through the woods and end up at a large rock. Then they retrace their steps, stepping in their own footprints until they reach the brook and paddle to safety on the western shore. They hide the canoe and rest for the pursuit that will continue the next day.

Chapter XXI

Uncas finds a trail, and the men follow it, hoping it will lead them to the women. The trail peters out and the party nearly gives up hope, but Uncas manages to divert the course of a small stream, revealing a hidden footprint in the sand bed. According to Hawkeye, the footprint indicates that Magua abandoned the horses upon reaching Huron territory. The men reluctantly enter the enemy territory and travel past a beaver pond, whose dams Heyward mistakes for Indian wigwams. An Indian appears in the forest. Ready for battle, Hawkeye nearly kills the Indian but soon recognizes the stranger as Gamut, painted as an Indian with only a scalping tuft of hair on his head.

Chapter XXII

As Hawkeye laughs at Gamut’s Indian paint and shaved head, the psalmodist tells the men that Magua recently separated Alice and Cora. Magua has sent Alice to a Huron camp and Cora to a Delaware settlement; he has released Gamut only because the Indians thought he was insane after they heard his religious singing. Gamut and Heyward decide to secretly inform the women that they will soon be rescued. Chingachgook disguises Heyward as a clown, since Heyward’s knowledge of French can help him to pass as a juggler from Ticonderoga. Heyward and Gamut proceed to the camp of the Hurons, while Uncas and Hawkeye travel to find Cora in the Delaware camp. At the Huron camp, Gamut and Heyward see strange forms rising from the grass. When they approach the tents, they realize the strange forms are just children at play.

Chapter XXIII

The village usually has no guards, but the whooping of the children draws the attention of the warriors. Heyward pretends to be a French doctor and attempts to pacify the Hurons, who believe the French forces abandoned them. A group of Hurons returns with a prisoner and several human scalps. The Huron elders force the prisoner to run a race against the tribe’s warriors in order to escape. Though the prisoner runs speedily, the Hurons outnumber him, and he wins only because Heyward trips one of his pursuers. Suddenly, Heyward recognizes the breathless prisoner as Uncas. Meanwhile, in the main lodge, the father of the man who captured Uncas condemns his son for cowardice and stabs him in the heart.

Chapter XXIV

Heyward searches in vain for Alice. He discovers that the Hurons, who think he is a doctor, want him to cure a sick Indian woman. At this moment, Magua appears and identifies Uncas as Le Cerf Agile. He convinces the other Hurons that Uncas should be tortured and killed the next morning. The Huron chief takes Heyward toward a cavern at the base of a nearby mountain. On the way, they encounter a strangely friendly bear that follows them closely. Inside the cavern, the sick woman rests in the company of other women and Gamut. The psalmodist sings at her bedside on behalf of her recovery; when the bear imitates his song, Gamut hurries off, dumbstruck. Heyward can see that the woman will soon die with or without his aid.

Chapter XXV

The chief sends away the other women and exhorts Heyward to cure the sick squaw. However, when the bear begins to growl, the chief takes fright and leaves. The bear removes its own head and Heyward realizes the bear is actually Hawkeye in disguise. Hawkeye explains that he led Munro and Chingachgook to safety, leaving them in an old beaver lodge. Hawkeye tells Heyward that Alice is concealed in the very cavern in which they stand. Heyward goes to Alice and tells her they will rescue her soon. He explains that he dreams of an intimate tie between himself and her. Magua suddenly appears in the cavern, laughing in a sinister tone. Hawkeye and Heyward capture him and tie him up. Alice is incapacitated with fear, so Heyward conceals her in the clothing of the dying Indian woman and takes her in his arms. Outside, he tells the chief that he will take the squaw he holds to the forest for healing herbs. Heyward says an evil spirit remains in the cave, and the Hurons should stave it off if it tries to escape. Once they reach the forest in safety, Hawkeye sends Alice and Heyward toward the Delaware camp, while he returns to help Uncas.

Chapter XXVI

Still dressed as a bear, Hawkeye returns to the camp, where he finds Gamut. The bear frightens Gamut until he understands that it is simply Hawkeye in disguise. The two men proceed to the main lodge and find Uncas. When the Hurons are at a safe distance from the lodge, Uncas takes the bear costume, Hawkeye takes Gamut’s attire, and Gamut dresses like Uncas and resumes his place at the stake. Because Gamut’s singing has prevented the Indians from attacking him in the past, he assumes it will protect him now. As Hawkeye and Uncas escape and approach the woods, a long cry pierces the night, and the men realize the Hurons have discovered their deceit. They feel confident that Indian superstition will save Gamut, so Hawkeye retrieves their hidden guns, and they hurry toward the Delaware village.

Chapter XXVII

The Huron warriors descend upon the man they think is Uncas, although the man they attack is actually Gamut in disguise. Gamut begins to sing wildly, and the Hurons draw back in confusion. The Hurons discover the sick woman, now dead, in the cavern, along with the bound Magua. They release Magua, and he explains how Hawkeye tricked them. The Hurons, now furious, debate what to do. The wily Magua persuades them to act cautiously, and they agree to follow his judgment. The Hurons again trust Magua’s intuition and passion and grant him primary leadership power. Magua leads twenty warriors toward the Delaware camp. On the way, a chief whose totem is the beaver passes the beaver pond, where he stops for a moment to speak to his animals. A very large beaver pops its head out of a dam, which pleases the chief. After the chief passes by, the beaver removes its head to reveal Chingachgook.

Chapter XXVIII

Magua appears in the Delaware camp the next morning, looking unarmed and peaceful. He discusses the current situation with Hard Heart, the great Delaware orator. However, Magua does not learn any news about Cora, who first came to the camp as his prisoner. He seeks to please the chief of the tribe by giving him gifts. He shocks the assembled Indians by revealing that he suspects the white man La Longue Carabine hides among them. Magua reminds the people that La Longue Carabine is a notorious Indian-killer.

Chapter XXIX

More than a thousand Delawares congregate to hear the judgment of the ancient and revered sage Tamenund, who is more than one hundred years old. Shortly after Tamenund appears, warriors bring Hawkeye, Cora, Alice, and Heyward to the assembly. In an attempt to protect his companion and stall for time, Heyward claims to be La Longue Carabine, but Hawkeye insists that Heyward is lying. To Magua’s delight, the Delawares stage a shooting contest to determine which man is truly La Longe Carabine. Heyward is a good shot, but Hawkeye displays almost superhuman marksmanship. Magua stirs the crowd into a frenzy of hatred, and the Indians tie up both Hawkeye and Heyward. Attempting to gain some time, Cora implores Tamenund to hear the pronouncements of Uncas. Tamenund is lethargic and skeptical, but not unwilling to welcome the Mohican.

Chapter XXX

Uncas appears before Tamenund. Uncas is serene, confident in his identity as a Delaware descendant. However, when Uncas insults Magua by calling him a liar, Tamenund reacts angrily, instructing the warriors to torture Uncas by fire. One of the warriors tears off Uncas’s hunting shirt, and the assembled Indians stare with amazement at a small blue tortoise tattooed on Uncas’s chest. The old man Tamenund seems to think the tattoo shows that Uncas is a reincarnation of Tamenund’s grandfather, a legendary Indian also named Uncas, who was famed for his valor during Tamenund’s youth. Tamenund releases Uncas immediately, and Uncas in turn frees Hawkeye. Uncas uses his newfound power to convince the Delawares that Magua has maliciously deceived them. In response, Magua insists that he deserves to retain his prisoners. Tamenund asks Uncas for his opinion, and Uncas reluctantly admits that although Magua should release most of his prisoners, Cora is his rightful prisoner. Magua flees with Cora, refusing Hawkeye’s offer to die in her place even when Hawkeye offers to throw Killdeer, his rifle, into the bargain. The others, now unable to stop the villainous Huron because of Tamenund’s ruling, vow to pursue him as soon as an appropriate time has passed.

Chapter XXXI

Uncas stares longingly after Cora as Magua drags her away. After retreating to his lodge to consider an appropriate plan of action, Uncas emerges to initiate a war ritual dedicated to the god Manitou, or Great Spirit. This dance and war song center around a young pine tree, stripped of its bark and painted with red stripes. Uncas and the Delawares ferociously attack the tree, which represents the enemy. Meanwhile, Hawkeye sends a young boy to find his hidden rifles. Hurons shoot at and wound the boy on his return to the camp, revealing their proximity to the Delawares. Uncas and Hawkeye plan retribution against the Hurons, assuming the command of twenty warriors apiece. As Uncas and Hawkeye hold a whispering council in the forest, Gamut reappears, still dressed in his Indian disguise. The startled Hawkeye mistakes him yet again for a Huron and nearly shoots him. Gamut tells the men that Magua has stashed Cora in a cave near the Huron camp. Hawkeye announces a plan: he will lead his men to rendezvous with Chingachgook and Colonel Munro at the beaver pond, and then they will defeat the Huron warriors and rescue Cora. The men decide how to carry out the plan using signals and specific duties in the forest.

Chapter XXXII

As the group approaches the stream near the peaceful beaver pond, the sound of gunfire erupts, and a mortally wounded Delaware drops to the ground. The Hurons have tracked the forces led by Hawkeye and Uncas. A battle ensues, and Hawkeye and Uncas’s men manage to defeat the Hurons. As the fighting winds down, Magua retreats to the Huron village. He and two Huron companions slip into the cave where Magua has hidden Cora. Hawkeye, Uncas, Gamut, and Heyward pursue them closely.

The Hurons drag Cora along a passage leading up the mountainside. Uncas and Hawkeye drop their heavy rifles in order to move more quickly. The Hurons reach a precipice, and Cora refuses to continue. Magua threatens to kill her with his knife, but he does not know whether he wants to kill her or marry her. Just as Uncas succeeds in leaping from a ledge and landing at Cora’s side, one of the Hurons loses his patience and stabs Cora in the heart. Enraged, Magua leaps at his ally but reaches Uncas first and stabs him in the back. Wounded yet defiant, Uncas kills the Huron who stabbed Cora. Magua slashes Uncas three more times and kills him at last.

Gamut strikes Magua’s other companion with a rock from his sling. Magua attempts to escape by leaping from the precipice across a wide fissure, but he falls short. He just manages to grab a shrub, which keeps him from plunging to his death. As Magua pulls himself back onto the mountainside, Hawkeye shoots him. Magua stares furiously at his enemies before plummeting to his death at the bottom of the ravine.

Chapter XXXIII

The next morning, the Delawares mourn their dead. Munro holds Cora’s body, and Chingachgook stares sorrowfully at his dead son. Tamenund gives a wise speech, and a ritualistic chanting honors the dead. The Delaware maidens chant that Uncas and Cora will be together in the Happy Hunting Ground, and Chingachgook offers the song of a father for his fallen son. After the group buries Cora, Munro asks Hawkeye, who speaks the Delaware language, to convey to the Indians two hopes: that God will not forget the Delawares’ kindness and that they will one day be together in a place where race and skin color are irrelevant. Hawkeye, however, proclaims that these sentiments are inappropriate and simply thanks the Delawares for their bravery. The white characters depart without Hawkeye, and Uncas undergoes a proper burial according to Delaware custom. Chingachgook laments that he is now alone, but Hawkeye argues that Uncas has merely left him for a time. Tamenund says he has lived to see the last warrior of the race of the Mohicans.

From Spark Notes

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