Initially, Ulrich von Gradwitz plans on killing his longstanding enemy, Georg Znaeym, who has been illegally poaching on his narrow strip of precipitous woodland. The Gradwitz and Znaeym families have been embittered in a fierce feud since the days of Ulrich's grandfather over the disputed territory. On a fateful winter night, Ulrich finally meets Georg face-to-face in the woods with bad intentions. However, Nature intervenes when a violent gust of wind blows a massive tree down, which lands on both men. Both Ulrich and Georg are incapacitated and wounded underneath the tree and cannot free themselves.
As time passes, Ulrich feels his hatred towards Georg steadily subside and begins to make amends by offering his enemy a draught of wine. Ulrich then tells Georg that if his men arrive first, he will immediately instruct them to free him first. Ulrich then attempts to end the longstanding feud by telling Georg,
We have quarrelled like devils all our lives over this stupid strip of forest,...
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