Study Guide

Last of the Mohicans Chapter 8

By James Fenimore Cooper

Chapter 8

  • Again, an epigraph from Gray, "The Bard." This one deals with enemies who refuse to go away. Very fitting for the situation.
  • There were more than four Iroquois. The others were watching on the opposite bank of the river, and once they realized our guys had won the altercation, they rushed in. The two groups exchange fire.
  • Chingachgook, Uncas, Heyward, and Hawkeye remain unscathed: their cover is quite good.
  • Hawkeye critiques the way Uncas uses his rifle. The young man simply smiles in return.
  • Heyward jumps into the conversation, saying that since Uncas has saved his life and should not be critiqued regarding judgment or skill. Uncas and Heyward exchange a handshake of friendship.
  • Hawkeye begins reminiscing about life in the forest, but is interrupted by a bullet that nearly hits Heyward.
  • Hawkeye examines the bullet and concludes that it was fired from above.
  • Uncas is already pointing upwards. He has sighted a savage in the trees. Hawkeye directs him to stall until he can get into position for them to fire from both sides at once.
  • Unfortunately, their assault fails. The Indian laughs at them and fires a bullet into Hawkeye's cap.
  • Hawkeye asks Uncas to call for Chingachgook, as getting this guy out of the tree is going to require some extra cunning. And weaponry.
  • Finally the Indian is dislodged. He clutches ineffectually at a tree branch. The fast-moving river is far beneath him.
  • Heyward begs Hawkeye to be merciful and shoot the man, but Hawkeye demurs. They need the ammunition.
  • Everyone watches the poor man's struggle. Hawkeye raises his rifle three times before his reasoning gets the better of him. Soon the Indian drops into the river, and Hawkeye fires, then remonstrates with himself for wasting the ammunition. He instructs Uncas to go down to the canoe and retrieve a big horn full of powder, which is the only ammo they have left.
  • Uncas leaves but soon utters a terrible cry. Everyone runs to investigate the new calamity. The women come out of the cave with the wounded David.
  • Their canoe is heading downriver.
  • Heyward wonders aloud what their fate will be. Hawkeye gestures to their scalps.
  • Heyward remains optimistic, saying they may be able to hide in the caverns and hold the Hurons off. Hawkeye points out that they have no usable weapons.
  • Chingachgook is already preparing his head to be scalped.
  • Heyward is still optimistic. Meanwhile, Hawkeye exchanges "it's been nice knowing yous" with Uncas. They all plot their manner of death.
  • Cora interrupts, saying that they need not die. She tells them to try the river and make for Munro, asking him to send reinforcements. If assistance comes too late, she tells him to bear "the love, the blessings, the final prayers of his daughters."
  • Hawkeye ponders the proposal for a few minutes, then agrees the plan is reasonable. He speaks to his Indian companions in their Delaware language. Chingachgook is the first to agree. He drops into the river and swims away.
  • Before leaving, Hawkeye tells Cora that if they are taken into the woods, they should try to mark their trail. He tells her that he will follow whatever signs she leaves. Before he drops into the river, he openly regrets that they lack enough ammunition to make a proper stand.
  • Everyone turns to stare at Uncas. After a time, Cora asks if he's going to go.
  • Uncas tells her he will stay. Cora urges him to go. He looks unhappy, but obeys.
  • Cora then turns to Heyward and begs him to follow the others. He gazes longingly at Alice.
  • Heyward refuses to leave.