While Rainsford is "a beast at bay," that is, while he is hunted as though a wild animal, he has some close encounters with death. In one incident the general trails Rainsford to the tree, but turns and leaves as Rainsford realizes
The general was saving him for another day's sport! The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse. Then it was that Rainsfor knew the full meaning of error.
Sliding down from the tree, Rainsford creates a malay man-catcher, which the general deftly dodges, but not before complimenting him. Nursing an injured shoulder, Zaroff leaves agains. Rainsfor "took up his flight again...a desperate, hopeless flight." After making a pit, he crouches behind the stump of a tree felled by lightning. Zaroff again approaches quickly; Rainsford nervously listens,
Rainsford, crouching there, could not see the general, nor could he see the pit. He lived a year in a minute. Then he felt an impulse to cry aloud with joy, for he heard the sharp crackle of the breaking branches as the cover of the pit gave way....
Nervously, Rainsford waits for the approach of Zaroff. In that minute he wonders if Zaroff will see the trap, fall into it, or discover him. It is a moment between life and death and feels like an eternity while Rainsford anxiously awaits fate.
In that minute, too, the inner conflict that Rainsford has with hunting men is resolved. He wants to live; in order to live, he must kill General Zaroff. The most dangerous game must be played and ethics are laid aside. All conflicts are resolved after Rainsford's inner turmoil. He escapes to the sea and returns to kill Zaroff, alone in his bedroom; Rainsford decides, "He ha never slept in a better bed."