As he jealously patrols his land, Ulrich von Gradwitz is suddenly faced with his mortal enemy, Georg Znaeym,
the inheritor of the quarrel and the tireless game snatcher and raider of the disputed border forest.
However, the silent moment which the conditioning of civilization has wrought upon the men allows Nature to intervene as a large beech tree is severed and crashes upon the two enemies, pinning them underneath it. With some effort, von Gradwitz frees one of his arms and reaches with difficulty for a wine flask which is in his outer coat pocket. After drinking from it, he glances at Znaeym and with "something like a throb of pity to where his enemy lay," Ulrich offers his flask to Georg.
"Could you reach this flask if I threw it over to you?....There is good wine in it, and one may as well be as comfortable as one can. Let us drink, even if tonight one of us dies."
Along with their civilized hesitation at the moment that they have come vis-a-vis to one another, this gesture of Ulrich von Gradwitz also indicates a certain refinement to the men. And, these two civilized actions act as foreshadowing of the reconciliation of the two men who are in enough danger that they realize the importance of life.