How does the story "The Interlopers" by Saki have suspense in it?    

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Interlopers" begins with suspense as "a man stood ... watching and listening," waiting for a "beast" to come within range of his rifle. The middle has suspense as Ulrich and Georg come "face to face." The crisis, leading to the story-end climax, has suspense as both men wait to see who it is who is coming to their aid.

Suspense weaves throughout the story because of Saki's deft structural development. Suspense is relieved--only to be heightened again--when the narrator describes the backstory centering around the court case over the illegally possessed land and again when Ulrich and Georg start talking after Ulrich offers Georg some wine from his flask (at first Georg retorts with hateful remarks but then he responds with talk from his heart: "if we choose to make peace ... [y]ou would come and keep the Sylvester night beneath my roof").

Saki heightens the suspense after this reconciliation between the two enemies by giving them and us the hope of a speedy and timely rescue. They and we believe they will live long lives of friendship and peace, feasting together at "Sylvester night" and at "some high day" (respectively, a Catholic Saint's Day coinciding with New Year's Eve on the Gregorian Calendar and any number of religious holy days for "Karpathians"). They call out together to what they believe to be one or the other set of their men approaching them, searching for the missing leaders: "They hear us! They've stopped. Now they see us." Suspense intensifies through the crisis to the climax as--after successfully raising their "voices in a prolonged hunting call"--Georg asks "How many are there? ... Are they your men? ... Are they your men?" His answer is Ulrich's "unstrung" hideously fearful "No."

     "They hear us! They've stopped. Now they see us. They're running down the hill towards us," cried Ulrich.
     "How many of them are there?" asked Georg.
     "I can't see distinctly," said Ulrich; "nine or ten,"
     "Then they are yours," said Georg; "I had only seven out with me."
     "They are making all the speed they can, brave lads," said Ulrich gladly.
     "Are they your men?" asked Georg. "Are they your men?" he repeated impatiently as Ulrich did not answer.
     "No," said Ulrich with a laugh, the idiotic chattering laugh of a man unstrung with hideous fear.