Uncas, Chingachgook, and Hawkeye attempt to track Magua for a moment, but then return to Heyward, who has been frozen in his spot, wondering if Magua will get away. Heyward criticizes Hawkeye for refusing to pursue Magua any father; Hawkeye returns that there would be no way they could capture a “Mingo” in these forests—so schooled is he in the arts of avoiding detection—and that the camp would be better served to move itself along the path and avoid other Maquas and their French allies.
Hawkeye understands that, to track Magua in the forest, one would need either inspired luck or a major miscue by the Huron, in order to find him. Natives of both the Huron and Delaware tribes are extremely adept at guerilla warfare in the forests, and they also have a close, lived relationship to the many trails that run through it. Only a small number of whites, like Hawkeye, also possess this knowledge.
Heyward, with desperation in his voice as the night falls, asks Hawkeye if he and his two Mohican friends will serve as guides to convey the group to Fort William Henry. Hawkeye consults with Uncas and Chingachgook, and they agree they will help Heyward’s party, and that they require no monetary reward for it, as it is the right thing to do to protect these innocents from Iroquois attack. Hawkeye merely asks Heyward never to reveal to anyone the hiding place Hawkeye is about to show the party; Heyward agrees.
The request that brings the “group” or “band” together. Heyward understands that he is now embroiled in an intrigue involving the native tribes of the region, and that his expertise as a white soldier will not necessarily ensure the safety of Cora, Alice, and David, as they proceed to the fort. It is a sign of Hawkeye’s and the Mohicans’ honor that they are so quickly willing to help this group of people in need.
Uncas and Chingachgook state, however, that the group must get rid of their horses. In particular, David’s colt is too large for the journey, and so Uncas, without delay, slits its throat and dumps it in the stream—much to David’s chagrin, although Hawkeye and Chingachgook agree that it is the right strategy to save the party. The other horses are led along with the group, as they approach a stream where the Mohicans’ canoe has been hidden. Alice and Cora are seated in the canoe, and Hawkeye, Heyward, and the Mohicans, with David walking along, use poles to drag the canoe upstream, toward a hiding place hidden in the rocks ahead.
Hawkeye, Chingachgook, and Uncas waste no time, here, in making plans. One of the biggest dangers of the forest is giving away one’s position, either with footprints or loud noise. A horse will leave both behind, and therefore a large horse, like David’s cannot be taken along. David will spend several chapters lamenting the death of his horse, but he finally seems to recognize, after witnessing the Hurons in battle, the nature and strength of the foe he is to confront, and agrees that Hawkeye made the right decision regarding the colt.
They reach a set of rocky outcroppings near a large series of waterfalls, called Glenn’s Falls. Here, Alice and Cora are helped out of the canoe, which is stowed in hiding along with the horses; and Heyward is delighted to fight a series of hiding places in the rocks where the group can avoid detection by the Iroquois.
Many of the place-names mentioned in this part of the novel are now towns in upstate New York, including Glenn’s Falls, which is not far away from Saratoga Springs, one of the region’s cultural centers.
While the group is getting situated along the banks, in preparation for retiring to the hiding place, Heyward asks Hawkeye if the Delawares (a larger tribe closely related to the Mohicans) and Mohicans have given up fighting altogether, as Heyward has heard. Hawkeye, indignant, says that the Delawares and Mohicans still fight, as Uncas and Chingachgook show, and that the Maquas only want others to believe that the Mohicans, “like women,” have abandoned the arts of war. Near the outcropping, David sings a psalm of mourning for his dead colt, and the group prepares to enter the cave used by Hawkeye and the Mohicans as a hideout.
Another refrain in the novel is the idea that the Mohicans and Delawares, because they have been driven from the eastern shores of the continent by Europeans earlier in the 1700s, are no longer a war-like people. The Hurons, perhaps, have perpetuated this illusion, but Hawkeye, Uncas, and Chingachgook do all they can to disprove it. This also shows the close relationship between native culture and colonial policies in the 18th century.