Soon, however, the warrior states that Heyward must be alone to work his magic, and so leaves Heyward with the bear and the ill young woman in the cavern—David, too, walks back to the village, stating that Heyward must be left to do his work. Suddenly, however, the bear takes off its own head, and Heyward realizes that the bear is really Hawkeye in an incredibly convincing disguise—Hawkeye has managed to steal the bear costume from a previous wearer, a conjuror in the Huron village (the costume is used for religion rites), and has accompanied Heyward to the place of his incantations, hoping to speak with him about Uncas’s rescue. It appears that only Heyward believed the bear to be real at all, and not a man in disguise, although only Heyward knows that Hawkeye, and not a Huron, is now wearing the costume.
Heyward has never before seen the kinds of Huron rituals that require the bear suit, and Hawkeye’s “performance” of the bear must be convincing enough to cause Heyward to believe, for a moment, that the bear suit is, in fact, a bear. Although the beaver appears to be the totem animal of the Huron village, the bear is the symbol most associated with its warriors, in the same way that the tortoise is the symbol most associated with the warriors of the Delaware tribe. Uncas will show the Delaware chiefs that he has a blue tortoise tattooed on his chest, as a symbol of his Delaware heritage, later in the narrative.
Hawkeye then asks if Heyward has managed to find any trace of Alice, and Heyward says that he has not. Hawkeye thinks that Alice might be hidden in another partition of the cabin in which the ill woman is lying (still sick), and Hawkeye, back in his bear costume, climbs up and over to another cell of the cavern, finding Alice hidden inside. Heyward climbs over the partition and embraces Alice, telling her that he loves her, that he soon wishes to reunite her with her father, and that her sister Cora is safely captive at the neighboring tribe.
Although Fenimore Cooper does not give Alice a great many lines in the novel, she nevertheless makes an interesting request to her intended: that Heyward not mention any more thoughts of marriage until Alice knows that her father and sister are safely reunited. Alice does not exhibit the same external strength as Cora during difficult situations, but she is nevertheless possessed of a quiet courage all her own.
Just as Heyward is telling Alice that he loves her and wishes to marry her, Magua enters the cave partition, and smiles: he now has both Alice and Heyward trapped. But before Magua can act to kill Heyward and Alice, Hawkeye enters the cave partition, having heard the commotion, and leaps onto Magua, pinning him and allowing Heyward to tie Magua up. Hawkeye then takes off his bear-head, revealing his true identity, and Magua announces that he will do all he can to kill Hawkeye, Heyward, and the rest of their band. But Hawkeye stops up Magua’s mouth with a gag, while Heyward carries Alice, who has fainted, out of the cave. Hawkeye follows in his bear suit.
Hawkeye’s interactions with Magua have become increasingly dramatic—as in Hawkeye’s revelation, here, that he is not a Mingo shaman—and the scene thus described has a heavy dose of comedy. The novel has only a few sequences that interrupt the overwhelming mood of dramatic tension and battle, but these sequences—like the earlier scene of David among the beavers—show a different, more jovial side of characters like Heyward and Hawkeye.
The group runs into the father of the sick girl and other warriors as they seek to escape the village, but Heyward tricks them by saying that the woman flung over his shoulder is also sick, and needs a spirit cast out of her as well; the warrior, wondering what has happened to his own daughter, rushes back to the cavern, but Heyward warns him not to enter yet, for fear of the evil spirits still residing inside, by the sick woman. While the Hurons wait outside the caverns, Hawkeye and Heyward carry Alice into the woods, where Alice revives from her faint.
Heyward exhibits an increasingly strong ability to think on his feet, and to convince natives around him that he is not the English soldier he so patently seemed at the beginning of the novel. Heyward’s friendship with Hawkeye and Uncas has perhaps enabled him to blend in more discreetly with the tribes of the upstate New York region.
After they walk farther into the woods, Hawkeye directs Alice and Heyward to the Delaware village nearby, where Cora is believed to be held. Hawkeye states that, as loyal as he is to the two sisters’ cause, he is even more loyal to that of Uncas, whom he has lived with and fought with for many years, and whom he considers an adopted son (along with Chingachgook, the boy’s actual father). Heyward recognizes Hawkeye’s obligation to Uncas, and wishes Hawkeye the best of luck in his attempt to free the young Mohican from the Hurons. Hawkeye then goes back to the Huron village, and Alice and Heyward flee farther into the woods, toward the Delawares.
Hawkeye here makes an important declaration of his allegiances—one that the reader has suspected all along. Hawkeye is as close to Chingachgook as a brother can be, and Hawkeye has taught Uncas a great deal about life in the forest, just as Uncas has taught Hawkeye a great deal. Therefore, much as Hawkeye wishes to save the entire Munro clan in one day, he knows that, as a manner of personal and “native” honor, he must return to the village and do all he can to set Uncas free.