Early December evening in 1793 The horses slowly pull up the big sledges. In the sledge, father and daughter are Judge Marmaduke Temple and Miss Elizabeth. The judge is one of the first settlers; one of those thanks to which this newly wilderness has changed. There were churches, roads, schools. Around the prosperous villages – cultivated fields.
Evening silence is broken by loud dog barking. A deer jumps out of the forest approaching the road. The judge grabs a double-barrel and shoots twice in the beast. The deer continues to run. Suddenly a shot is heard from behind the trees. The deer jumps. Another shot – and the beast falls dead.
On the road comes the Leather Stocking – Natti Bampo. He is already old, but still looks strong.
Natti greets Temple and taunts him slightly over his unsuccessful shot. The judge is excited, proves that he was in a deer. But from behind the tree comes a young man – he is wounded in the shoulder of one of the grains. The judge stops the dispute and, concerned, offers the victim help. The young man is obstinate. The girl joins the requests of the father, together they convince the wounded.
When descending from the mountain to the town on the lake, Marmaduke and his daughter are met by four; among them – Richard Jones. The latter – a very limited man, but extremely ambitious, a liar and a braggart – is a cousin to a judge. He rules the horses, and through his fault the trouble was almost a disaster-the sleigh sank over the precipice. The wounded young man jumps out of his sleigh, grabs the horses of the unlucky fours by the bridle, and returns them with a strong jerk to the road.
In the judge’s house, a self-taught doctor takes a shot from the young man’s shoulder. From the further help of the Aesculapius, the young man refuses, but trusts the “Indian John”, who has not appeared, an old acquaintance, the drunk Chingachgook.
Marmaduke Temple invites Oliver Edwards – that’s the name of the injured stranger – to compensate for the harm done to him, but he, quite irritated, refuses.
The next morning, Richard is waiting for a pleasant Christmas surprise. Marmaduke’s troubles turned out to be successful – his brother was appointed district sheriff. The money entrusted to the judge on the eve of the war for independence by friend and companion of Mr. Effingham, brought fruit worthy –
the whole district is in the hands of the judge. Marmaduke offers Oliver the post of secretary. The young man intends to refuse, but Chingachgook convinces him to agree.
The harsh winter finally passed. The beginning of spring is mudslides, mud, mud. But do not sit at home?! And Elizabeth and her friend often stroll. Once in the company of Marmaduke, Richard and Oliver the girls rode along the wooded mountain slope. The judge recollected the difficulties of settling this region. Suddenly, Oliver shouted: “Wood! Shoot the horses!” A huge tree collapsed. All have slipped. Oliver Edward, with a risk to life, saved his girlfriend Elizabeth.
On the lake, the last ice melts. Spring puts green fields and forests. Residents of the town are indulging in mass – much more than it is necessary for food, – the destruction of migratory birds and spawning fish. Leather Stockings angrily condemn them. “That’s what happens when people come to the free country,” he says, “every spring, forty years in a row, I saw pigeons flying through here, and until you began to cut down forests and open fields, nobody touched unfortunate birds” .
It was summer. Elizabeth and her friend go for a walk in the mountains. From the suggestion of Edwards to accompany them, Elizabeth refused quite decisively. Oliver descends to the lake, sits in a yawl and hurries to the Leather Stocking. Not finding anyone in the hut, sent to catch perch. It turns out that Natti Bampo with Chingachgook is also fishing. Edward joins them. The distant barking of dogs alarms the Leather Stocking. It seems to the hunter that his dogs have broken off from a leash and are driving a deer. Indeed, a deer is shown on the shore. Fleeing from the dogs, he throws himself into the water and swims in the direction of the fishermen. Forgetting everything, Nathaniel and Chingachgook pursue him. Oliver tries to warn them, shouts that the hunting season is not yet open, but, succumbing to excitement, joins the pursuers. The three of them drive the animal, and the Leather Stocking kills him with a knife.
Meanwhile, the girls, accompanied by only one old mastiff, go further and further into the forest. They stumble upon a puma with a cub. He, playing, comes to the sharpened mastiff, but the dog quickly deals with the “kitten”. But then the dog rushes to the dog. In a desperate struggle, the mastiff dies. Elizabeth looks with horror at the puma, preparing to jump. A shot is heard behind her – a huge cat is rolling on the ground. Appears Leather Stack and second shot finishes the beast.
Marmaduke is in difficulty: the savior of his daughter is accused – by the efforts of his cousin Richard! – not only in illegal hunting, but also in resistance to the authorities.
Court. With illegal hunting, no difficulties: the penalty for a hunted deer covers the premium for killed cougars. Resistance to government officials is much more serious. And if the jury rejects the accusation of insulting Mr. Doolittle, then on the second point – the threat of weapons – the Leather Stocking is found guilty. Marmaduke Temple sentenced him to an hour of stay at the pillory, a month’s imprisonment and a hundred dollars in fine.
Elizabeth is upset. Her father convinces her that he could not have acted in any other way, he persuades Nathaniel to visit prison and hand him two hundred dollars. Hunter is happy to the appearance of the girl, but refuses categorically from money. The only thing he agrees to accept from Elizabeth, who accidentally found out about the upcoming shoot, is a can of good gunpowder. The girl agrees with pleasure. After her departure – with the help of Oliver – Nathaniel flees.
The next day, Elisabeth takes the powder to the agreed place. However, instead of hunters, he finds only the Chingachgook who has fallen into the trance. The Indian mumbles something about his soon departure to his ancestors, about the pitiful fate of his people. Overdried by the sun, the air gradually becomes bitter – there was a smell of burning, and smoke appeared. There was a loud crackling, a flare of fire – a forest fire! The girl was confused, began to call Leather Stockings. Edward appears. He tries to save the girl, but the flame is getting closer. There seems to be no salvation. In the face of impending death, Oliver Edward explains Elizabeth in love. And, as always, at the right time and in the right place is the Leather Stocking. Having poured on. the back of Chingachgook, who is indifferent to everything, he is the channel of a stream, through smoke and fire he takes everyone to a safe place. A thunderstorm begins. Chingachgook dies.
Opens the secret of Oliver Edwards. The young man is the son of the emigrated to England and later the deceased friend and companion of the Temple of Mr. Edwards Effingham. Grandson of the missing, the legendary Oliver Effingham. It turns out that the patriarch is still alive. And this is his, a ruined aristocrat, trying to hide from the people’s gossip fought once under his command, Nathaniel with Chingachgook. Hence their reclusive life, which caused neighbors to have their wits and dislikes. A grandfather who has fallen into childhood is presented to the assembled. Universal reconciliation. Marmaduke Temple, it turns out, not only preserved and multiplied the state entrusted to him, but also bequeathed it equally to the daughter and the Effingham family. Elizabeth and Oliver seclude themselves. They have something to say to each other.
Autumn. In September the wedding of Oliver Edwards and Elizabeth took place. A few days later, the legendary Oliver Effingham died, and he was buried in the place of the burnt Nathaniel hut, next to the grave of the great warrior Chingachgook. On a sunny October morning, the newlyweds visit a small cemetery. They get a Leather Stocking. Despite all the persuasions of friends, he bids farewell to them and sets out on a journey. “The hunter went far to the West – one of the first among those pioneers who open new lands for their people in the country.”