The Last of the Mohicans HTML version

Chapter 26
"Bot.--Let me play the lion too."--Midsummer Night's Dream
Notwithstanding the high resolution of Hawkeye he fully comprehended all the
difficulties and danger he was about to incur. In his return to the camp, his acute and
practised intellects were intently engaged in devising means to counteract a watchfulness
and suspicion on the part of his enemies, that he knew were, in no degree, inferior to his
own. Nothing but the color of his skin had saved the lives of Magua and the conjurer,
who would have been the first victims sacrificed to his own security, had not the scout
believed such an act, however congenial it might be to the nature of an Indian, utterly
unworthy of one who boasted a descent from men that knew no cross of blood.
Accordingly, he trusted to the withes and ligaments with which he had bound his
captives, and pursued his way directly toward the center of the lodges. As he approached
the buildings, his steps become more deliberate, and his vigilant eye suffered no sign,
whether friendly or hostile, to escape him. A neglected hut was a little in advance of the
others, and appeared as if it had been deserted when half completed -- most probably on
account of failing in some of the more important requisites; such as wood or water. A
faint light glimmered through its cracks, however, and announced that, notwithstanding
its imperfect structure, it was not without a tenant. Thither, then, the scout proceeded, like
a prudent general, who was about to feel the advanced positions of his enemy, before he
hazarded the main attack.
Throwing himself into a suitable posture for the beast he represented, Hawkeye crawled
to a little opening, where he might command a view of the interior. It proved to be the
abiding place of David Gamut. Hither the faithful singing-master had now brought
himself, together with all his sorrows, his apprehensions, and his meek dependence on the
protection of Providence. At the precise moment when his ungainly person came under
the observation of the scout, in the manner just mentioned, the woodsman himself,
though in his assumed character, was the subject of the solitary being's profounded
However implicit the faith of David was in the performance of ancient miracles, he
eschewed the belief of any direct supernatural agency in the management of modern
morality. In other words, while he had implicit faith in the ability of Balaam's ass to
speak, he was somewhat skeptical on the subject of a bear's singing; and yet he had been
assured of the latter, on the testimony of his own exquisite organs. There was something
in his air and manner that betrayed to the scout the utter confusion of the state of his
mind. He was seated on a pile of brush, a few twigs from which occasionally fed his low
fire, with his head leaning on his arm, in a posture of melancholy musing. The costume of
the votary of music had undergone no other alteration from that so lately described,
except that he had covered his bald head with the triangular beaver, which had not proved
sufficiently alluring to excite the cupidity of any of his captors.