The Last of the Mohicans HTML version

Chapter 24
"Thus spoke the sage: the kings without delay Dissolve the council, and their chief
obey."--Pope's Iliad
A single moment served to convince the youth that he was mistaken. A hand was laid,
with a powerful pressure, on his arm, and the low voice of Uncas muttered in his ear:
"The Hurons are dogs. The sight of a coward's blood can never make a warrior tremble.
The 'Gray Head' and the Sagamore are safe, and the rifle of Hawkeye is not asleep. Go --
Uncas and the 'Open Hand' are now strangers. It is enough."
Heyward would gladly have heard more, but a gentle push from his friend urged him
toward the door, and admonished him of the danger that might attend the discovery of
their intercourse. Slowly and reluctantly yielding to the necessity, he quitted the place,
and mingled with the throng that hovered nigh. The dying fires in the clearing cast a dim
and uncertain light on the dusky figures that were silently stalking to and fro; and
occasionally a brighter gleam than common glanced into the lodge, and exhibited the
figure of Uncas still maintaining its upright attitude near the dead body of the Huron.
A knot of warriors soon entered the place again, and reissuing, they bore the senseless
remains into the adjacent woods. After this termination of the scene, Duncan wandered
among the lodges, unquestioned and unnoticed, endeavoring to find some trace of her in
whose behalf he incurred the risk he ran. In the present temper of the tribe it would have
been easy to have fled and rejoined his companions, had such a wish crossed his mind.
But, in addition to the never-ceasing anxiety on account of Alice, a fresher though feebler
interest in the fate of Uncas assisted to chain him to the spot. He continued, therefore, to
stray from hut to hut, looking into each only to encounter additional disappointment, until
he had made the entire circuit of the village. Abandoning a species of inquiry that proved
so fruitless, he retraced his steps to the council-lodge, resolved to seek and question
David, in order to put an end to his doubts.
On reaching the building, which had proved alike the seat of judgment and the place of
execution, the young man found that the excitement had already subsided. The warriors
had reassembled, and were now calmly smoking, while they conversed gravely on the
chief incidents of their recent expedition to the head of the Horican. Though the return of
Duncan was likely to remind them of his character, and the suspicious circumstances of
his visit, it produced no visible sensation. So far, the terrible scene that had just occurred
proved favorable to his views, and he required no other prompter than his own feelings to
convince him of the expediency of profiting by so unexpected an advantage.
Without seeming to hesitate, he walked into the lodge, and took his seat with a gravity
that accorded admirably with the deportment of his hosts. A hasty but searching glance
sufficed to tell him that, though Uncas still remained where he had left him, David had
not reappeared. No other restraint was imposed on the former than the watchful looks of a