Summary and Analysis
In the stillness that follows, Heyward finds it hard to believe what has happened, especially as nature seems to reassert itself with the song of birds. Nonetheless, they all hide in the cave, Gamut still addled and Alice trembling and weeping against Cora's breast. The major closes the inner entrance with the blanket and a pile of sassafras, then seats himself with a pistol clenched convulsively in his hand. Gamut sings "Isle of Wight," which is interrupted by savage yells from the center of the island as a rush of voices pours down the island. When a triumphant cry is followed by the shout, "La Longue Carabine!" Heyward for the first time realizes that his late companion was the celebrated hunter and scout of the English camp, and he feels certain that their friends have escaped.
As the Indians enter the neighboring cavern, the major peers out of his sassafras entrance, sees the gigantic chief, and watches as exultant warriors bring blood-stained brush from the other cave and unwittingly pile it against his entrance. Though the Indians' shouts indicate anger in seeing their own dead and disappointment at finding no prisoners or dead enemies, Heyward feels that perhaps now they are safe. However, just as Alice begins to offer thanks, the features of Le Renard Subtil appear at the other entrance and the major fires his pistol without success. There is only a moment of surprise before a clamorous rush captures the four whites, who are dragged outside and surrounded by the triumphant Hurons.
With the woodsmen off the scene of action, this chapter presents the relative ineffectiveness of the "outsiders." As before, Alice is the sentimental heroine, trembling and ready to swoon so that she demands the attention of others. Gamut is still too much under the influence of his wound to learn anything from his situation yet; he mechanically follows his interest in song. It is notable that while Cooper continues to present him as a weak personage — a weakness consistent with his naivete as a comic Yankee character — he again credits the psalmodist with a singing voice so good that it can cast a spell even through a travesty of song. Heyward, still solicitous of the girls and especially of Alice, is seen as the determined but unsuccessful hero who is too much out of his element. Little is seen of Cora in the present action, but she remains a strong character in contrast to Alice.
By the end of this chapter, the first segment of the plot pattern that Cooper works so well is completed: the pursuit, which was instigated earlier, has now reached the point of capture. What the reader can expect now are the possibility and difficulty of escape. Actually Cooper has already varied his pattern by letting three of the party escape before the capture. Plot thus adds hopeful suspense to the brutal threat of the obviously savage captors, made more threatening by the presence of the subtle Magua.