Heyward looks around, into the beauty of the forest, as the Mingos have pulled back and Uncas, Chingachgook, and Hawkeye have now floated downstream. Heyward sees only the birds and trees of the forest, and does not see any sign of the Mingos. He goes to David, who has been in and out of consciousness after the grazing shot he received. David sings a psalm to himself— Heyward allows it, because the sound of the rushing waterfall drowns out David’s voice—and Heyward talks with Cora and Alice, who seem prepared, and bravely so, for the renewed assault of the Mingos.
An important if subtle scene in the novel. Heyward spends a bit of time, even in the aftermath of the terrible fear the band has experienced, to take in the natural beauty of their particular location, near Glenn’s Falls. Heyward also learns, as the novel progresses, that Uncas’s, Hawkeye’s, and Chingachgook’s reverence for nature is at once spiritual and practical: native religions are centered on the woods, and the woods can be a dangerous, complicated place to live one’s life. Heyward’s reverence for nature can also be seen as Fenimore Cooper’s reverence, as Cooper wrote the novel at a time when the “taming” of this wilderness was well underway and so the novel captured a wildness he wanted to preserve.
Just then, Heyward hears another splitting cry in the woods—the Maquas are remounting their assault of the cavern. The band gathers together in the cavern, silently, so as to avoid detection, and the Maquas walk on the nearby rocks, raising cries at the sight of their fallen comrades, killed by Heyward, Hawkeye, and Uncas. The Maquas also repeat the name “La Longue Carabine,” given to Hawkeye, as he is one of their greatest enemies, and a combatant whom they have fought in these woods for years.
The name “La Longue Carabine,” or “The Long Rifle,” is both a term of derision and a term of respect for the natives. On the one hand, they seem to state that Hawkeye’s success in battle derives solely from his powerful weapon, rather than his cunning. But the natives also recognize just how powerful and courageous a foe Hawkeye can be.
The group of Maquas moves on, however, and Heyward tells Cora, Alice, and David that they are saved—they have escaped detection. Just then, however, Magua sees the cavern and, poking his head into it, past the blanket blocking its entrance, he catches sight of Heyward. Heyward, in a flourish, fires his pistol in an attempt to kill Magua, but the shot misses, and the sound is so loud as to alert the remaining Maquas to the location of the band in the cavern. The Maquas storm inside and take the band captive, with Magua, Le Renard Subtil, at their head.
The first scene of capture in the novel. Here, the capture occurs more or less as anticipated, as Uncas, Hawkeye, and Chingachgook retreated strategically, hoping that the Hurons would allow the prisoners to live long enough for the three warriors to attempt a rescue mission. Although Magua is an untrustworthy man, he is nevertheless bound to native customs, which afford a great deal of respect to prisoners.