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Saki's short story "The Interlopers" is about a generational conflict between two families, the Gradwitzs and the Znaeyms. As the story opens, we learn that years earlier, the Gradwitzs had legally won control of the smaller part of the forest that bordered the two families' land holdings. The Znaeyms, however, refused to honor the legal ruling and hunted on the land anyway.
Saki establishes his theme early; although both families own valuable land, they are fixated on that little piece in the middle--people want most what they cannot have.
So, on the stormy night on which the story begins, Gradwitz suspects that Znaeym is on his land somewhere, and is determined to find him.
The reader soon sees that, although Gradwitz starts his search as part of a group, he breaks off by himself to seek Znaeym, presumably so that there will be no witnesses that see what happens when he finds him.
The men soon encounter each other in the forest and, to their credit, they don't immediately shoot each other down. Saki attributes their hesitation to the effect of civilization--men do not easily kill each other.
Then Saki contrives an event, a very unlikely one, to change the course of the story. The storm brings down a tree, which pins both men to the ground. At this point, they finally have no choice but to talk to each other.
So Saki has his characters lay helplessly. At first they threaten each other, each declaring that their men will soon arrive to save him and kill the other, but both know they might as easily be the victim in this situation. By arranging the plot this way, Saki creates the opportunity for the men to change. Soon we see the change begin to take place. Gradwitz works his wine flask free and takes a drink:
The wine was warming and reviving to the wounded man, and he looked across with something like a throb of pity to where his enemy lay, just keeping the groans of pain and weariness from crossing his lips.
He offers Znaeym the wine, but Znaeym refuses. However, an idea has taken hold of Gradwitz.
In the pain and languor that Ulrich himself was feeling the old fierce hatred seemed to be dying down.
The men talk and agree to put aside their feud and become friends. But the story takes an ironic twist when, instead of being found by their own men, they are found by wolves. Saki's message: don't wait too long to set aside your differences.
The main events in the story are the family feud between Ulrich and Georg's families that has gone on for centuries over a virtually useless piece of land that borders each man's estate. They go "hunting", but each is really looking for the other to kill him and end the feud once and for all. The men meet face to face, but a lightning bolt strikes down a tree pinning both men just out of reach of the other. They talk and decide to become friends. They see what they think are their rescuers and each hopes it is his men so that he can be the first to extend the branch of friendship, but it turns out that the "rescuers" are really a pack of wolves.
See the enotes summary for a more complete layout of events.
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