The red-skins should be friends, and look with open eyes on the white men.
Heyward searches in vain for Alice. He discovers that the Hurons, who think he is a doctor, want him to cure a sick Indian woman. At this moment, Magua appears and identifies Uncas as Le Cerf Agile. He convinces the other Hurons that Uncas should be tortured and killed the next morning. The Huron chief takes Heyward toward a cavern at the base of a nearby mountain. On the way, they encounter a strangely friendly bear that follows them closely. Inside the cavern, the sick woman rests in the company of other women and Gamut. The psalmodist sings at her bedside on behalf of her recovery; when the bear imitates his song, Gamut hurries off, dumbstruck. Heyward can see that the woman will soon die with or without his aid.
The chief sends away the other women and exhorts Heyward to cure the sick squaw. However, when the bear begins to growl, the chief takes fright and leaves. The bear removes its own head and Heyward realizes the bear is actually Hawkeye in disguise. Hawkeye explains that he led Munro and Chingachgook to safety, leaving them in an old beaver lodge. Hawkeye tells Heyward that Alice is concealed in the very cavern in which they stand. Heyward goes to Alice and tells her they will rescue her soon. He explains that he dreams of an intimate tie between himself and her. Magua suddenly appears in the cavern, laughing in a sinister tone. Hawkeye and Heyward capture him and tie him up. Alice is incapacitated with fear, so Heyward conceals her in the clothing of the dying Indian woman and takes her in his arms. Outside, he tells the chief that he will take the squaw he holds to the forest for healing herbs. Heyward says an evil spirit remains in the cave, and the Hurons should stave it off if it tries to escape. Once they reach the forest in safety, Hawkeye sends Alice and Heyward toward the Delaware camp, while he returns to help Uncas.
Still dressed as a bear, Hawkeye returns to the camp, where he finds Gamut. The bear frightens Gamut until he understands that it is simply Hawkeye in disguise. The two men proceed to the main lodge and find Uncas. When the Hurons are at a safe distance from the lodge, Uncas takes the bear costume, Hawkeye takes Gamut’s attire, and Gamut dresses like Uncas and resumes his place at the stake. Because Gamut’s singing has prevented the Indians from attacking him in the past, he assumes it will protect him now. As Hawkeye and Uncas escape and approach the woods, a long cry pierces the night, and the men realize the Hurons have discovered their deceit. They feel confident that Indian superstition will save Gamut, so Hawkeye retrieves their hidden guns, and they hurry toward the Delaware village.
The Huron warriors descend upon the man they think is Uncas, although the man they attack is actually Gamut in disguise. Gamut begins to sing wildly, and the Hurons draw back in confusion. The Hurons discover the sick woman, now dead, in the cavern, along with the bound Magua. They release Magua, and he explains how Hawkeye tricked them. The Hurons, now furious, debate what to do. The wily Magua persuades them to act cautiously, and they agree to follow his judgment. The Hurons again trust Magua’s intuition and passion and grant him primary leadership power. Magua leads twenty warriors toward the Delaware camp. On the way, a chief whose totem is the beaver passes the beaver pond, where he stops for a moment to speak to his animals. A very large beaver pops its head out of a dam, which pleases the chief. After the chief passes by, the beaver removes its head to reveal Chingachgook.
Magua appears in the Delaware camp the next morning, looking unarmed and peaceful. He discusses the current situation with Hard Heart, the great Delaware orator. However, Magua does not learn any news about Cora, who first came to the camp as his prisoner. He seeks to please the chief of the tribe by giving him gifts. He shocks the assembled Indians by revealing that he suspects the white man La Longue Carabine hides among them. Magua reminds the people that La Longue Carabine is a notorious Indian-killer.
More than a thousand Delawares congregate to hear the judgment of the ancient and revered sage Tamenund, who is more than one hundred years old. Shortly after Tamenund appears, warriors bring Hawkeye, Cora, Alice, and Heyward to the assembly. In an attempt to protect his companion and stall for time, Heyward claims to be La Longue Carabine, but Hawkeye insists that Heyward is lying. To Magua’s delight, the Delawares stage a shooting contest to determine which man is truly La Longe Carabine. Heyward is a good shot, but Hawkeye displays almost superhuman marksmanship. Magua stirs the crowd into a frenzy of hatred, and the Indians tie up both Hawkeye and Heyward. Attempting to gain some time, Cora implores Tamenund to hear the pronouncements of Uncas. Tamenund is lethargic and skeptical, but not unwilling to welcome the Mohican.
Cooper makes Alice’s behavior in the cavern conform to the stereotype of the weak, emotional woman. Alice’s fragility inspires Heyward to declare his feelings for her, which suggests that in sentimental novels at least, men find feminine weakness sexually attractive. In sentimental novels, characters frequently demonstrate their love by performing a rescue. Heyward conforms to the sentimental model when he rescues Alice. Heyward and Alice typify the romantic pairing of sentimental novels: the brave, manly hero and his weak, lovely lady. While Cooper includes a stereotypical couple, he also breaks with the all-white world of sentimentality. He invites the reader to enjoy the adventures of Heyward and Alice but to develop greater admiration for their counterparts, Uncas and Cora. Despite their kindness and good intentions, Heyward and Alice are disempowered by their unfamiliar surroundings. In contrast, Uncas and Cora are brave, complicated, and dignified characters.
Although Hawkeye drops out of the plot for chapters at a time, he always reemerges at pivotal moments to affirm his position as hero of the novel. He occasionally pops into view like a cartoon superhero, whipping off his bear head to reveal himself or demonstrating outrageous shooting skills in a contest. Hawkeye looks even more impressive in the shooting contest in contrast to the well-meaning Heyward, who cannot quite find his footing in this strange and unfamiliar forest.
Cooper emphasizes the differences between Hawkeye, the hero, and Magua, the villain. Hawkeye proves his heroism through action, but Magua uses language to effect his villainy. Despite their differences, however, Hawkeye and Magua share some traits. Just as Hawkeye bursts onto the scene after disappearances, Magua slinks back, reappearing even after he is thought dead. One of his surprise entrances occurs in Chapter XXV, when at the pivotal moment he announces his presence with a sinister chuckle.