As some of you noted, the transition towards the end may have seemed a little abrupt. As I said in an individual reply to a reviewer, the only excuse I can give for this is that there will be a sequel, in which feelings and consequences will naturally need to be discussed in more detail. It is my plan to focus more on Alice and Uncas in the sequel, not (just) because the readers seem to enjoy them more as a couple than Nathaniel and Cora, but because their relationship is not as stable. C and N will be able to find their place in society and with each other fairly quickly, once the details of their journey are dealt with. Alice and Uncas have much that has not been established. This is why Chingachgook insisted on giving them a sort of trial period, as it were. If they are alone, they will have nothing to do but determine what they are to each other. Well, that, and survive, of course.
Alice herself does not even fully understand what her decision to stay with Uncas is going to mean. While Uncas has already considered the possibility of them having a child together, Alice is not able to do much more than picture them innocently drifting off to sleep together in each others' arms. She is pretty naive, after all. She made that decision in a fit of pique--sure, she has genuine feelings for him but she is not at the point where she can be honest with herself and everyone else about what those feelings are. So while her decision might have seem sudden, it wasn't really uncharacteristic, IMO at least. (Her comment, made in anger, about not wanting to be his mistress did not reflect her real understanding of the situation.)
Also, while I would love to take credit for being such a regular updater, honesty compels me to admit that the bulk of this story was written over the past winter. I have been editing it and changing minor details as I went along, every couple of days, allowing me to give you frequent updates. Normally, though I am a regular writer, I can't/don't really produce more than about a longish chapter once a week. Real life and my natural pace prevent that.
That said, it's my plan to start Beyond The River within the next few weeks, after taking a brief break. There is a scene that might be in BTR that was originally my inspiration for this entire thing and I wasn't able to include it in ITF. It requires an ocean, but maybe a river will have to suffice; water is definitely one of the major motifs of this tale, along with the season imagery.
Thanks for your interest in and comments on the story.