Study Guide

Last of the Mohicans Chapter 13

By James Fenimore Cooper

Chapter 13

  • The epigraph this time is short: "I'll seek an easier path," from Parnell, "A Night-Piece on Death."
  • Hawkeye leads them swiftly through the forest, using his awesome nature skills.
  • He remembers once participating in a fight where they had to construct a hasty building for protection. His memory leads them straight to a "decayed block-house."
  • The men enter and survey the building warily. Chingachgook tells his son the battle they fought. The women dismount.
  • Heyward asks Hawkeye about the place's security. Hawkeye replies that few people knew the battle was fought, and even fewer knew that a building was erected.
  • Hawkeye was a young man at the time, fighting on the side of the Delawares against the Mohawks. He describes himself as a "man without a cross." He designed and partly erected the building. When the fight was over, he buried the dead with his own hands. He shows the group the grave.
  • The sisters look around as though more Mohawks might jump out of nowhere. Hawkeye reassures them. Out of all the men who fought the battle, only Chingachgook and himself are alive.
  • Heyward says his impression was that the Delawares were pacifists who trusted the Mohawks to defend their land.
  • Hawkeye tells him there's more to the story. Basically the Dutch people used sketchy treaties to gain Indian land.
  • Heyward points out that everyone is tired. Hawkeye is a tireless machine, but other people need their rest.
  • Hawkeye and the Indians prepare refreshments and comfortable bedding for the sisters, who say their prayers and go to sleep.
  • Heyward attempts to stand watch, but Hawkeye tells him the Indians will be much better at that.
  • Heyward pretends to sleep, but resolves to stay awake until he has delivered Munro's daughters.
  • Eventually he falls asleep and dreams of himself as a young knight protecting a beautiful princess.
  • Chingachgook wakes Heyward and tells him it's time to move.
  • Alice imagines that Heyward has stood watch the whole night. Heyward shamefully corrects her, but she still has plenty of respect for him.
  • The conversation is interrupted. The Mohicans have heard men approaching. Hawkeye tells them that Magua must have fallen in with one of Montcalm's troops. He directs all horses and non-combatants into the shelter.
  • Soon the sound of Hurons' voices fill the air. They are debating the best approach. Finally, someone with authority sorts them all out, and they get closer.
  • Hawkeye directs everyone to fire as the enemy approaches.
  • Soon two Indians emerge and stare at the dilapidated building. They look at the grave and, out of respect for the dead, eventually withdraw.
  • In the meantime, Hawkeye, Heyward, and the two Mohicans stand ready to kill these two men. After the Hurons move off, however, they rejoin their friends and leave more quietly than they arrived.
  • The group breathes a sigh of relief. Hawkeye points out that the Hurons' respect for the dead saved their lives.