The narrator tells us that the scene from the previous chapter is known in colonial history as "The Massacre of William Henry." And yeah, it did actually happen.
The narrator reflects on how Montcalm was "deficient in that moral courage without which no man can be truly great." After all, he failed to stop the horrific massacre. The narrator tells us that Montcalm will likely be remembered as "the gallant defender of his country, while the cruel apathy on the shores of the Oswego and of the Horican will be forgotten."
It's been three days since the fort was captured, and the surrounding area looks, simply, like a battle has taken place. The fort has been burned.
The weather is turning colder.
About an hour before sunset, five men emerge from the treeline. They proceed cautiously. Two are Indian and three are white.
As they pass the groups of the dead, the white man is visibly disturbed while the Indian remains relatively calm.
The narrator tells us that we the readers should have figured out that these men are Hawkeye, Heyward, Uncas, Chingachgook, and Munro. "It was, in truth, the father in quest of his children, attended by the youth who felt so deep a stake in their happiness, and those brave and trusty foresters, who had already proved their skill and fidelity through the trying scenes related."
Uncas reaches the center of the plain and calls out to the rest of the company. He has found a pile of dead women. Munro and Heyward hasten over to see if they can find any trace of Cora and Alice.
Everyone stands around the pile. Hawkeye speaks, saying that the Frenchies better watch out for his rifle because this scene of carnage was clearly the hand of the devil. He asks Chingachgook if the Hurons will brag about their horrific deeds.
Uncas discovers Cora's green riding veil in the bushes. He promises her distraught father he will do his best to save her.
Uncas finds another fragment of veil. Hawkeye tells everyone they must proceed cautiously to keep the trail signs clear.
Chingachgook finds a man's footprint. Heyward exclaims that the women must be captives.
Uncas looks closer at the trail signs and proclaims Magua as their enemy.
Hawkeye and Chingachgook confirm the finding.
They also discover the pipe belonging to David Gamut, and take heart that the women have at least one friend with them.
Hawkeye expresses his doubts about David's capabilities.
Munro asks to look upon his daughter's footprint.
Heyward murmurs to Hawkeye that perhaps they ought to get going.
Hawkeye points out they still lack proof that Alice was also captured.
He decides they should continue on the trail, and if no evidence appears, they can always turn back. He directs Uncas to watch the leaves, himself to watch the bushes, and Chingachgook to pay attention to the ground.
Heyward offers to help.
Hawkeye tells him to stand back and not touch anything.
They find the Narragansett horse prints, which is promising, and Uncas also finds some of Alice's jewelry.
Heyward is raring to go, but Hawkeye dissuades him, saying they need to be calm and methodical. Indians also never undertake such a search without some ritual smoking, and he would like to honor that and get a good start in the morning.
Munro has sunk into a comatose state. Heyward sees it would be impossible to protest, so he takes Munro's arm and follows the others.
They head back to the ruined fortress. Everyone is de-pressed.