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As Ulrich von Gradwitz patrols the dark forest in "The Interlopers," he steps around a huge tree trunk; then, by chance he suddenly confronts the very enemy he seeks: Georg Znaeym. This random act of fate, or chance, brings together two men who have passionately hated each other all their lives since they have been the "inheritors of the quarrel" between their grandfathers over a strip "of precipitous woodland."
In this astounding instant of recognition of enmity, the two men who have hate in their hearts and murder on their minds--"the passions of a lifetime"--hesitate but a brief moment. However, that infinitestimal instant is long enough for Nature, also by chance, to send boughs of the massive beech tree upon them, pinning them and rendering them incapable of serving their vengeance upon one another. This act of the untamable forest serves as the nemesis of the two men who have been so consummed in the passions of their lifetime that they have underestimated the power of Nature to control men's lives. For, although they reconcile their differences under the dire conditions in which they are captive, their turn of conscience is too late. With a sense of their fatality, Ulrich with a humorous laugh tells Georg that it is wolves, not men, that they hear approaching.
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