At first there is an interesting interplay with Sanger Rainsford and General Zaroff as they dine together in the Russian's chateau on Ship-Trap Island. Believing that he has been rescued by the mute, Ivan, the wizened hunter Rainsford ironically senses no threats to his person from the distinguished-looking man with the "cultivated voice" who considers it an honor to welcome such a "celebrated hunter" to his home.
However, after the general's admission that he hunts "more dangerous game" and has "invented a new sensation," Rainsford is appalled,
"But you can't mean---"gasped Rainsford.
"And why not?"
"I can't believe you are serious, General Zaroff. This is a grisly joke."
"Why should I not be serious? I am speaking of hunting."
"Hunting? General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder."
The general scoffs at Rainsford's "mid-Victorian" perspective, and continues expostulating on his theories of the hunt. However, the repulsed Rainsford wishes to remove himself from this brutal man, asking to be excused this night because he is not feeling well. The general tells him that after his long swim to shore of the previous evening, he understands that Rainsford will need a good sleep:"Tomorrow you'll feel like a new man, I'll wager," Zaroff says with hidden irony. "Then we'll hunt, eh? I've one rather promising prospect."
This "promising prospect" turns out to be Rainsford himself. For, the next day when he asks to leave the island, Zaroff rebuffs his request, subtly saying, "you've only just come. You've had no hunting--"
Rainsford shook his head. "No, general...I will not hunt."
General Zaroff shrugs his shoulders very casually, saying "As you wish..." but he adds that Rainsford may wish to consider his only other alternative is being hunted by Ivan with the vicious dogs.
Comprehending the full meaning of Zaroff's words, Rainsford asks, "You don't mean--" and the general responds that he always speaks frankly about hunting. "This is really an inspiration. I drink to a foeman worthy of my steel--at last."