The Last of the Mohicans
"Cursed be my tribe If I forgive him."--Shylock
The Indian had selected for this desirable purpose one of those steep, pyramidal hills,
which bear a strong resemblance to artificial mounds, and which so frequently occur in
the valleys of America. The one in question was high and precipitous; its top flattened, as
usual; but with one of its sides more than ordinarily irregular. It possessed no other
apparent advantage for a resting place, than in its elevation and form, which might render
defense easy, and surprise nearly impossible. As Heyward, however, no longer expected
that rescue which time and distance now rendered so improbable, he regarded these little
peculiarities with an eye devoid of interest, devoting himself entirely to the comfort and
condolence of his feebler companions. The Narragansetts were suffered to browse on the
branches of the trees and shrubs that were thinly scattered over the summit of the hill,
while the remains of their provisions were spread under the shade of a beech, that
stretched its horizontal limbs like a canopy above them.
Notwithstanding the swiftness of their flight, one of the Indians had found an opportunity
to strike a straggling fawn with an arrow, and had borne the more preferable fragments of
the victim, patiently on his shoulders, to the stopping place. Without any aid from the
science of cookery, he was immediately employed, in common with his fellows, in
gorging himself with this digestible sustenance. Magua alone sat apart, without
participating in the revolting meal, and apparently buried in the deepest thought.
This abstinence, so remarkable in an Indian, when he possessed the means of satisfying
hunger, at length attracted the notice of Heyward. The young man willingly believed that
the Huron deliberated on the most eligible manner of eluding the vigilance of his
associates. With a view to assist his plans by any suggestion of his own, and to strengthen
the temptation, he left the beech, and straggled, as if without an object, to the spot where
Le Renard was seated.
"Has not Magua kept the sun in his face long enough to escape all danger from the
Canadians?" he asked, as though no longer doubtful of the good intelligence established
between them; "and will not the chief of William Henry be better pleased to see his
daughters before another night may have hardened his heart to their loss, to make him
less liberal in his reward?"
"Do the pale faces love their children less in the morning than at night?" asked the Indian,
"By no means," returned Heyward, anxious to recall his error, if he had made one; "the
white man may, and does often, forget the burial place of his fathers; he sometimes
ceases to remember those he should love, and has promised to cherish; but the affection
of a parent for his child is never permitted to die."