Chapter 7 Summary
No one of in the cave has fallen asleep when they hear another piercing sound. Hawkeye, although he still does not know who or what is making the shrill yell, commits to discovering its cause. Hawkeye knows enough about the forest to understand that a sound so unnerving as the one they are hearing is a signal that something dangerous is lurking. It makes no matter what the sound's source is; they must honor its warning.
Everyone steps outside of the cave as the men begin their investigation of the sound. When the loud cry is voiced once again, it is Heyward who finally recognizes it. He tells Hawkeye the he has heard that same sound many times before when he was engaged in cavalry battle. Now that he is outside of the cave and can hear it more clearly, he realizes that it is the sound of a scared horse. Either the horse is in imminent danger or has been wounded.
At this pronouncement, all hear a different sound. This time the noise is more familiar to Hawkeye and the Indians. As they owned no horses, they had not recognized the cry of the horse, but the howls and barks of wolves are known to them. A pack of wolves must have found Heyward's horses. The horses must be saved, as the women would never be able to make the trip to the fort without them.
Hawkeye tells the women to wait inside the cave. The men then descend toward the river. They hide in the shadows of the trees, shadows cast by the moon, as they cautiously move forward. The woods are silent all around them. After taking their positions in the shadows, they keep watch through the night. Only Heyward and Gamut fall asleep.
As dawn shows its first light, Heyward rouses Hawkeye. As he does, they all hear the piercing shrieks of what they calculate to be about a dozen Indians. Hawkeye is sure that among those enemy Indians is Magua, the man who had attempted to lead Heyward and the Munro sisters to their deaths. With Magua, Heyward guesses, are a few Iroquois Indians, enemies of the Mohicans.
A few minutes later, the Iroquois begin their attack. Hawkeye is able to wound one of them, and the Iroquois retreat. As the Iroquois disappear, Heyward runs to Gamut, who has been wounded. Hawkeye warns Heyward that the Iroquois retreat is only temporary and they are bound to return. Shortly after making this declaration, the Iroquois reappear and the Mohicans, Hawkeye, and Heyward find themselves in a battle for their lives.