The characters in “The Interlopers,” Ulrich von Gradwitz and Georg Znaeym, have been enemies since birth. Their grandfathers feuded over a piece of forestland. While the courts ruled in the Gradwitz family’s favor, the Znaeym family has never accepted this ruling. Throughout the course of Ulrich and Georg’s lifetime, the feud has grown into a personal, bloodthirsty one. As boys, they despised each other, and by the evening that the story takes place, the two grown men are determined to bring a final end to the feud by killing their enemy.
On this fateful evening, Ulrich gathers a group of foresters to patrol the land in search of Georg. Separated from his men, he hopes to meet Georg alone and, when he steps around a tree trunk, he gets his wish. The two men face each other with rifles in hand, but neither can bring himself to shoot the other. Before either man can act, a bolt of lighting strikes a tree. It falls over and pins them underneath its limbs.
The men are pinned down side-by-side, almost within touching distance. Both are dazed, injured, and angry at the situation in which they find themselves. Georg tells Ulrich that his men are right behind him, and threatens that, when they arrive, they will free him but roll the tree on top of Ulrich. To this threat, Ulrich replies that his men will arrive first and kill Georg. Both men know it is only a matter of waiting to see which group of foresters will reach them first.
Ulrich manages to draw his wine flask out of his coat pocket. He drinks some wine and, feeling something akin to pity, offers it to Georg. Georg refuses on the grounds that he does not drink wine with an enemy. During a few moments of silence, an idea comes to Ulrich. He proposes to Georg that they bury their quarrel. He believes that they have been fools and asks Georg for his friendship. After a long silence, Georg answers, accepting Ulrich’s proposal.
The men decide to join their voices together to shout for help. Suddenly, Ulrich sees figures coming through the woods. They shout louder and the figures come down the hillside toward them. Georg, who cannot see as well as Ulrich, asks which men are approaching. Ulrich does not reply. He has seen something horrible: it is not men who approach them—it is wolves.
Carol Ullmann (Editor) Short Stories for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, Volume 15, Saki, Published by Gale, 2002.