The Delawares who have assembled—the younger warriors—ask which of the prisoners is “La Longue Carabine,” owner of Kildeer, and both Heyward and Hawkeye say that they are; Heyward, worried about what the Delawares will do to Hawkeye, attempts to do all he can to exempt Hawkeye from punishment. But the Delawares, knowledgeable of Hawkeye’s skill with a rifle, ask both Heyward and Hawkeye to shoot at targets to determine who is the better marksman, and therefore who is La Longue Carabine.
A last, exciting and “playful” sequence before the Main Event—the confrontation between Magua and the band. Although it is unclear how Heyward believes he can pretend to be Hawkeye for very long, Heyward nevertheless demonstrates his personal courage and his abilities as a marksman and soldier. Heyward, although he is an Englishman by birth and training, has improved in his understanding of the forest, in large part owing to Hawkeye and the Mohicans.
Heyward shoots very close to an earthen vessel nearby, but Hawkeye completely shatters it. In the next trial, Heyward hits a far more distant target, a gourd, but Hawkeye put the bullet so precisely in the gourd that the Delawares are amazed. The Delawares realize that Hawkeye is La Longue Carabine, and, this having been determined, the Delawares ask Magua to speak to the assembled crowd. Magua, with his skills at public speaking, gives a long talk about the history of man, in which he states that men of black skin are meant to serve as slaves, that men of white skin have colonized the lands of the Americas, and that men of red skin, the natives, though they speak different languages, are united in a common purpose because of their shared ancestry. Magua then defers to Tamenund, saying that it is time for the Delaware patriarch to speak.
Magua’s history lesson, in this section, is an interesting display of native explanation and legend, and is an attempt to come to terms with one of the basic problems of human existence—why is it that God, or the great spirit or Manitou, created different people of different ethnic groups, different languages, and different religions. Magua believes that the “redmen,” as he calls them, have a particular tie to the land of upstate New York, and that this tie was intended by Manitou. The white man might be able to defeat the natives in battle, but they cannot remove the natives’ sacred bond with their land.
Tamenund, accepting the compliments Magua has bestowed upon the Delaware people, states succinctly that Magua may take the prisoners from the Delawares “that are his,” and Magua, cheered at this news, eyes Cora longingly, and has Cora, Alice, Heyward, and Hawkeye seized and held in place by obliging Delawares. Cora, however, wrestles free of her Delaware guard and throws herself upon Tamenund’s mercy, saying that the English there are prisoners against their will, that they only wish for safe conveyance home to their families.
Another of Cora’s acts of courage. Cora understands that, because she is not treated as a combatant, she will be given free reign, to an extent, to argue her case before the council. This might be, perhaps, because elders like Tamenund are so unaccustomed to seeing a woman petition them at all, that they are willing to listen as a special case.
Cora also asks that Tamenund hear the words of Uncas, who has as yet not left the prison-lodge; that Uncas, a “red man” living and helping the whites, has more to say to the Delaware patriarch, and is of Mohican blood, a blood related to the Delaware clan. Tamenund agrees to Cora’s request, and asks for Uncas to be brought out to the circle.
Tamenund’s judgment, with Uncas present, will set in motion the events of the final sequence of the novel, in which Magua, Uncas, and Hawkeye meet in a major confrontation, in order to decide where Cora will be permitted to live—among her family, or with Magua.