The forest is quiet and still. Hawkeye is suspicious. He walks over to a small brook and asks if any of his men know where the water goes. One of the Delaware Indians responds that within a day's walk, the brook becomes a bigger body of water.
Hawkeye directs his men to use the shore cover until they have found Hurons. They're ready to go when the Delawares point out that David has been following them.
Hawkeye cautions David that war is going to be fought.
David replies that he has thought it over, and he would be pleased to fight on Cora's behalf.
Hawkeye points out that David lacks a weapon.
David shows him a sling.
Hawkeye metaphorically shrugs his shoulders and tells David that he's had remarkable luck avoiding injury so far.
The group marches along the banks of the waterway for a good mile or so, occasionally stopping to see if they can hear any enemies. They eventually reach the point at which the stream joins a larger stream of water.
Hawkeye pauses to consult with Heyward. They are going to lose cover if they continue in this direction.
Hawkeye knows that the Huron camp is only about a half mile away; he is worried that they have not sighted any Hurons.
Hawkeye advances slowly and everyone else advances single file behind him.
Shortly after they emerge from the cover, however, rifles go off and one of their party falls dead. Whoops.
Hawkeye directs his men to take cover, regroup, and advance. It seems, however, that the number of Hurons keeps increasing until it is about the same as the Delawares. Few are injured, but the Delawares are clearly on the losing side.
The Hurons are suddenly attacked from the rear, however, by Uncas. The fight continues.
Hawkeye takes an opportunity to take cover behind the same tree as Heyward. He gives the English major a little lesson in the tactics of an Indian fight: "It consists mainly in ready hand, a quick eye and a good cover." Hawkeye concludes that horses will eventually turn the tide in European favor in the struggles against Indians.
Heyward points out that they should table this conversation for later.
Hawkeye replies that it's perfectly reasonable to use breathing breaks in the middle of a fight for useful reflections.
They need to attack. At a "given signal […] the Delawares leaped in long bounds toward the wood, like so many panthers springing upon their prey." The force of the charge overwhelms the Hurons and the fighting switches to hand-to-hand combat. The Delawares start to lose ground again when another rifle rings out behind the Hurons. Hawkeye recognizes Chingachgook, who is attacking from the rear.
This is excellent. The Hurons trip over themselves trying to retreat.
The fighting continues with the Delawares appearing to win.
They spot a little group of Hurons including Magua. Uncas cries out, gathering a few warriors around him, and charges toward Magua.
The Huron turns and runs up a hill.
The white dudes and a few other Delaware Indians follow Uncas on his mad pursuit. Pursuers and pursued run through the Huron village. Some of the Hurons stop to make a stand. The Delawares, Heyward, Hawkeye, and Munro dispatch their enemies. Magua continues running, followed by David, Hawkeye, and Heyward.
Magua leads them to the caverns where Alice was held before.
As they run through the dimly lit caverns, our heroes believe the trail has run cold when they spot a white robe fluttering ahead. Heyward realizes it is Cora, and the chase is renewed.
The path is difficult; the men abandon their rifles. Hawkeye urges everyone closer; he points out that the Hurons are using Cora as a human shield.
The group gets close enough to Magua to realize that two Hurons are carrying Cora while Magua runs alongside.
The men gain ground on the Hurons, who are weighed down by Cora.
Cora stops right on the edge of a massive cliff, telling her guards that she refuses to go further. She tells them to kill her if they want.
The two Hurons who had been carrying her raise their tomahawks happily but Magua stops them. He tells her to choose being his wife or else dying.
Cora drops to her knees and accepts whatever fate will be doled out to her.
Magua tells her again to choose. He lifts his arm but cannot bring himself to murder her.
Uncas appears on the ledge screaming. Magua is momentarily distracted, and one of his friends takes the opportunity to plunge his knife into Cora's chest.
Magua leaps on his friend in retaliation, but Uncas has also entered the fight.
"Maddened by the murder he had just witnessed," Magua leaps on Uncas and plunges his knife into Uncas' back.
Uncas staggers up and kills Cora's murderer.
Magua seizes Uncas and stabs him to death.
Hawkeye runs down to the group, but when he reaches them, there are only corpses left.
Magua tries to leap off the precipice to safety but falls slightly short.
Hawkeye takes the opportunity to raise his rifle and fire upon Magua. He doesn't miss, 'cause he's freaking Hawkeye.