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The Last of the Mohicans
James Fenimore Cooper
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"I fear we shall outsleep the coming morn As much as we this night have overwatched!"--
Midsummer Night's Dream
The instant the shock of this sudden misfortune had abated, Duncan began to make his
observations on the appearance and proceedings of their captors. Contrary to the usages
of the natives in the wantonness of their success they had respected, not only the persons
of the trembling sisters, but his own. The rich ornaments of his military attire had indeed
been repeatedly handled by different individuals of the tribes with eyes expressing a
savage longing to possess the baubles; but before the customary violence could be
resorted to, a mandate in the authoritative voice of the large warrior, already mentioned,
stayed the uplifted hand, and convinced Heyward that they were to be reserved for some
object of particular moment.
While, however, these manifestations of weakness were exhibited by the young and vain
of the party, the more experienced warriors continued their search throughout both
caverns, with an activity that denoted they were far from being satisfied with those fruits
of their conquest which had already been brought to light. Unable to discover any new
victim, these diligent workers of vengeance soon approached their male prisoners,
pronouncing the name "La Longue Carabine," with a fierceness that could not be easily
mistaken. Duncan affected not to comprehend the meaning of their repeated and violent
interrogatories, while his companion was spared the effort of a similar deception by his
ignorance of French. Wearied at length by their importunities, and apprehensive of
irritating his captors by too stubborn a silence, the former looked about him in quest of
Magua, who might interpret his answers to questions which were at each moment
becoming more earnest and threatening.
The conduct of this savage had formed a solitary exception to that of all his fellows.
While the others were busily occupied in seeking to gratify their childish passion for
finery, by plundering even the miserable effects of the scout, or had been searching with
such bloodthirsty vengeance in their looks for their absent owner, Le Renard had stood at
a little distance from the prisoners, with a demeanor so quiet and satisfied, as to betray
that he had already effected the grand purpose of his treachery. When the eyes of
Heyward first met those of his recent guide, he turned them away in horror at the sinister
though calm look he encountered. Conquering his disgust, however, he was able, with an
averted face, to address his successful enemy.
"Le Renard Subtil is too much of a warrior," said the reluctant Heyward, "to refuse telling
an unarmed man what his conquerors say."
"They ask for the hunter who knows the paths through the woods," returned Magua, in
his broken English, laying his hand, at the same time, with a ferocious smile, on the
bundle of leaves with which a wound on his own shoulder was bandaged. "'La Longue