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Chapters I - III
Certainly Hutter is hiding--it is good to be cautious in this country. Deerslayer talks about his lack of looks--Hurry has admitted that Deerslayer is not handsome--and how he has had moments of vanity, and envy, but in the end a man must look evil in the face and not mistake his gifts. Hurry says that Judith certainly finds herself lovely, and Deerslayer allow that event he Indians are known to be vain. They continue to look for the Ark--maybe they are down the river? They check another cove, at the bottom of the lake, and hear the sound of a footstep. Deerslayer leaves the canoe with his rifle to investigate. Then Hurry sees a fine buck emerge from the trees to drink from the lake. He raises his rifle to shoot, and misses. The echo resounds. The deer shakes his head, then swims to the other shore. Deerslayer is unhappy with Hurry's rash action--now their cover is blown, and they certainly didn't need the deer meat. Hurry is only mad at himself for missing--he'd like to see Deerslayer's steady hand if a Mingo were aiming at him! They argue again about the idea of Indians being human beings. Hurry thinks Deerslayer has missionary ideas, is just a boy, and will soon learn that Indians are not brothers. Judith and Tom won't like an Indian-lover in their camp!
They get to the lake's outlet, the top of the river, and find it perfectly hidden. They start down--it looks like a canoe will barely fit--and find the thick cover so dense that when they start discussing the relative merits of Judith Hutter they are surprised to find her answering them, barely an arm's length away, leaning out the window of the well-concealed Ark.
For the time, Cooper's Natty Bumppo is rather radical in this respect.
Cooper felt that the natives and the wilderness were treated horribly
by the early white settlers. However, in the twentieth century, we might
find his "separate but equal" doctrine a little suspect.
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