Chapter 3 Summary
The setting shifts to another part of the woods. There, two men are sitting by the side of a stream having a conversation. One of the men is a Native American; the other is of European decent. The Native is Chingachgook, whose head is shaven and body is painted as if prepared for war. The White man is a scout named Hawkeye. They are talking about their personal and cultural histories. Hawkeye also talks of the flow of water in scientific terms, mentioning the pull of the tides. Chingachgook speaks of the river as he references oral histories or stories that have been handed down for countless generations. Although the men’s thoughts reflect different perspectives, it is apparent that they have respect for one another and for their varied points of view.
The two men are allies despite their differences, both in history and in appearances. Hawkeye is dressed in the customary hunter clothes of many of the colonists. His hunting shirt and buckskin leggings reflect the colors of the forest, providing him camouflage. His hunting weapons include a knife and a long rifle. Chingachgook’s chest is bare, and he wears a single feather in his hair. He hunts with an axe and a shorter rifle.
When they continue their discussion, they mention the histories of how their respective relatives came to the land they both now inhabit. During this aspect of their conversation, Chingachgook talks of how his people have suffered from other tribes as well as the White men who have come to colonize the land. Chingachgook focuses on his own tribe, the Mohicans. He says his son, Uncas, is the last of his tribe.
As if their conversation has brought him forth, a young man suddenly appears. He comes to them quietly, and Chingachgook shows no reaction to the sudden appearance of the young man—his son, Uncas. Appreciating if not comprehending the silence of the father toward his son’s sudden presence, Hawkeye tries to mimic Chingachgook’s lack of physical reaction. The three men sit in silence and wait. Then Chingachgook slowly turns his head toward his son and asks if the Maquas (the Iroquois, who are enemies of the Mohicans) are in the forest. Uncas tells his father he has been on the Indians’ trail. They are hiding in the woods, looking for scalps, Hawkeye says. Chingachgook suggests that the three of them eat a good meal that night and then hunt the Maquas in the morning. Later Chingachgook hears horses and exclaims that they belong to White people. He worries that they might be in danger from the Iroquois.