Chapter 4 Summary
Hawkeye, Chingachgook, and Uncas’s conversation is broken by the sounds of someone approaching. Hawkeye stands in front of his friends with his rifle ready to defend them. He shouts out for the newcomer to identify himself. Someone answers back that those who approach are people who have been traveling all day and are tired and hungry. Hawkeye says they must be lost. The stranger readily agrees. He then asks if Hawkeye knows the distance to Fort Edward, which they are seeking. Hawkeye laughs and tells the stranger he is way off the route. Hawkeye cannot understand why a soldier would take the more confusing paths in the woods when there is an open and well-marked route that follows the lake. The stranger confesses that he relied on an Indian scout who told him the way through the woods would be shorter and safer.
Hawkeye has trouble comprehending what the stranger is telling him. He wonders out loud how an Indian could ever get lost in the woods. All Indians know how to read the trails, even if they are deer trails. Indians know how to read the sun and the moss on the trees and the stars at night. Then when Hawkeye learns that the Indian scout is a Huron, he understands. Hurons cannot be trusted, Hawkeye tells the man. The stranger insists that he can trust this Indian, who is a legitimate scout for the army. Major Heyward then identifies himself. Hawkeye has heard of the major and respects him. However, Hawkeye remains insistent that the Indian scout has duped the major.
When Hawkeye leaves Heyward to look at the Indian scout, he is slightly disturbed to find the two young women on horseback. He returns to Heyward and tells him he would never trust this Indian scout. He refers to the scout as a Mingo—a tribe that is notorious for their savage betrayal. Hawkeye also informs the major that though the fort he is seeking is only an hour away, he may never make the journey successfully with the two women, especially at night, which is almost upon them. The woods are filled with Indians looking to kill white people, Hawkeye tells Heyward.
Eventually the major is convinced that Magua, the Indian scout, has deceived him. As Heyward talks to Magua, Hawkeye, Chingachgook, and Uncas sneak up behind Magua and try to capture him. However, Magua slips away. Hawkeye aims and shoots his gun, but this does not stop Magua.