Hawkeye leads the band through the forest, saying that there is a place up ahead they can camp for the night. The band comes upon a “block house,” or abandoned forest outpost, that looks to be almost in ruins. Hawkeye tells Heyward the story of his defense of that block house, with the Mohicans, against Maquas some number of years ago. During a siege, Hawkeye and the Mohicans held off dozens of Maquas, then killed them and buried them on a nearby hill. Heyward asks Hawkeye if it isn’t true that the Delawares and Mohicans once agreed to a peace treaty with the Dutch, and Hawkeye says this is not correct; the Dutch proclaimed such a treaty, but the Delawares never “abandoned their manhood” and gave up warfare in this way.
Heyward asks Hawkeye whether the legend about the Delawares (also known as the Lenapes, and of which the Mohicans are a sub-tribe) is true: namely, that the Delawares gave up fighting after signing treaties with the English and Dutch. Hawkeye is perhaps motivated by his own honor and vanity here, but, as evidenced in the preceding chapters, Uncas, Chingachgook, and Hawkeye are more than willing to do battle against the Hurons whenever necessary. It is therefore likely that this notion of Delaware “pacifism” is in fact a Huron invention.
Alice and Cora go inside the block house to sleep, and though Heyward wishes to keep watch during the night, Hawkeye says it would be better for Chingachgook and Uncas to do so, since they are accustomed to the “native” manner of stalking through the woods, and would be better prepared to find enemies in the night. Heyward relents, and the band, except for the Mohicans, sleeps, until they are awoken by Chingachgook early the next morning, with the moon still high in the sky. The band prepares to travel by moonlight to Fort William Henry.
Just as Uncas and Chingachgook stood watch when the band was first housed in the caverns near Glenn’s Falls, here the two Mohicans believe that they are better equipped to spot encroaching natives than Heyward or Cora would be, and perhaps they are right. Nevertheless, it gives the sense that, without the protection of Uncas and Chingachgook and Hawkeye, the band would never make it through the woods at all.
As the band readies for travel, however, they hear footsteps not far off in the woods, and realize that a small group of Hurons, advance scouts from Montcalm’s French army, are near the block house, examining it for traces of the English. The band retires to the block house, putting everything inside, including the horses. Although Heyward wants to fire on the Hurons as they approach, Hawkeye cautions him, saying they ought to wait and see what the Hurons do. As it turns out, the Hurons merely inspect the burial mounds; the Hurons then turn to leave, and the band, relieved, readies to depart once again. With the Hurons far in the other direction, the band leaves through the back of the block house, into the woods once more.
A close call. Hawkeye prizes this block house because of its remote location and its well-defended position, and here, Hawkeye also shows just how useful the block house can be as a position in which to fortify and hide. It is an indication of the dangers of the upstate New York woods that even a small hut, made of logs, is better than simply being outside, among the trees—but the constant threat of native attack, from all sides, requires that Uncas, Chingachgook, and Hawkeye maintain an unrelenting vigilance, even when bedding down for the night.