Magua escapes the chase; he is only slightly wounded by Hawkeye’s rifle shot. Now Heyward, Hawkeye, Uncas and Chingachgook know they are in great danger from Indians who wait in the forest until nightfall when they can strike. Uncas and Chingachgook kill a foal and hide the remainder of the horses, while Hawkeye, Heyward, David and the two women take a canoe down river, since water leaves no tracks. The two Indians then rejoin them, and they all arrive at a secluded rock, level with the water, at Glenn’s Falls. They hope that they will not be detected by the Indians Hawkeye calls Iroquois (he also refers to them as Mingo). Hawkeye and the two Mohicans disappear into a crack in the rock that leads to a cavern.
The whole party takes refuge in the narrow, deep cavern, which has two openings, one of which leads into another cave. The location is secure because they are on an island, surrounded by waterfalls and rivers. They eat supper of venison, and Uncas waits on the two women with great courtesy. Hawkeye strikes up a conversation with David, who explains that he is a singing teacher to youths in Connecticut. Hawkeye is unimpressed, thinking that this is an impractical vacation. But he asks David for a demonstration. David sings a sacred song, and Cora and Alice join him. Hawkeye is moved to tears by the performance. But then a strange, unearthly cry is heard from outside. No one knows what it is, but it is not the Indian war-whoop. The cry is heard again, and they are all fearful, not knowing what danger may be upon them.
The beginning of Chapter V shows the inexperience of Heyward in coping with an environment with which he is obviously unfamiliar. While Hawkeye and the Mohicans start immediately on the pursuit of the fleeing Magua, Heyward remains “fixed, for a few moments, in inactive surprise.” He simply does not know what to do. It is as well that he is willing to listen to the greater experience of Hawkeye, otherwise it is clear that Heyward would not have lasted long in this hostile terrain. (His naivete was also apparent in Chapter IV, when he clumsily tried to apprehend Magua, discounting the cunning of the other.)
The different names used for the Indians can be confusing for the reader. The principle villains of the book are the Hurons. Magua is a Huron. Hawkeye also dislikes the Mohawks and Oneidas. These are two of the tribes that made up the confederation known to the English as the “Six Nations.” These tribes are also known collectively as the Mengwe, the Maquas (the name given to them by the Dutch), or the Mingoes (a contemptuous term often used by Hawkeye). The French gave them the name of Iroquois.
Hawkeye admires the tribe of the Delawares, even though the common wisdom, as Heyward states it in Chapter V, is that they have given up arms and “are content to be called women.” This refers to the historical fact that the Delawares were persuaded by the Dutch and the Mengwe to trust their defense entirely to the Mengwe.
The Delawares, whose original name for themselves was “Lenni Lenape,” are descended from the same people as the Mohicans, a fact that will become extremely important in the closing chapters of the novel.