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While Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" is a suspenseful tale throughout the entire narrative, perhaps, the three most suspenseful events are the following:
After Rainsford is discovered on the shore of Ship-Trap Island and brought to the chateau of General Zaroff, Rainsford learns that for his elegance and learning, the Cossack general is a sadistic man who hunts men for sport. When the general extends to Rainsford in his suave way an invitation to hunt with him, Rainsford refuses and asks to leave the island. Shrugging, the general explains that Rainsford may find his idea of sport "more diverting than Ivan's," intimating that the hunting dogs may be employed against him. "You don't mean--" Rainsford cries out in comprehension that he is to be hunted. He is, then, given clothing and helpful tips about wearing moccasins and avoiding Death Swamp.
1. At first, Rainsford tries to get as far away as possible, but then he realizes he is working in side the "picture frame" of an island. So he creates a trail meant to divert Zaroff. Finally, it grows dark and Rainsford, careful not to leave footprints, climbs a tree.
But, morning finds the Cossack following the trail to the tree. Lighting one of his "pungent incense-like" black cigarettes Zaroff follows with his eyes the branching of the tree. "Very deliberately, he blows a smoke ring into the air; then he turned his back on the tree, and walked carelessly away." As Rainsford assesses the superior skill of Zaroff to have been able to follow through the woods an extremely challenging trail at night, he understands that the general must have seen him when he looked into the trees' branches.
The general was saving him for another day's sport! The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse. Then it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror.
2. After sliding down from the tree, Rainsford goes forward until he sees a huge, dead tree. With the branches he fashions a trap--a "Malay man-catcher." Rainsford the mouse awaits the return of the cat. Shortly, Zaroff approaches, scrutinizing every blade of grass, every bent twig, every little mark until he is almost upon the trap. "His foot touched the protruding bough that was the trigger." But, with amazing swiftness, the agile Zaroff jumped back in time, receiving only a swift blow to his shoulder. He calls out to Rainsford, congratulating him, adding that he must return to have his wound attended; however, he adds, he will be return.
After the general leaves, Rainsford takes flight, but steps into Death Swamp and its quicksand. Fortunately, he is able to dig his way out. From hard saplings he shapes stakes and makes another trap. Still, he cannot rest even in the dusk because he hears Zaroff coming. He hears a sharp scream and jumps up excitedly, but he must quickly cower back down as he has seen a man with a torch.
"Your Burmese tiger pit has claimed one of my best dogs. Again you score...Mr. Rainsford, "I'll see what you can do against my whole pack...Thank you for a most amusing evening."
3. At daybreak Rainsford learns new fears: he hears the baying of a pack of hounds. He quickly examines his options: he can stay and wait, but that could mean suicide; he could run, but that would be "postponing the inevitable." Suddenly, he thinks of running away from the swamp. When he reaches a ridge, Rainsford climbs a tree and spots the brush moving in the distance; then, he discerns Ivan with the hounds. "They would be on him any minute now. His mind worked frantically," and he remembers a native trick from Uganda. Grabbing a green sapling, Rainsford bends it down, attaching his knife to its end pointing down the trail; he ties the sapling in place with vine.
Then he ran for his life. The hounds raised their voices as they hit the fresh scent. Rainsford knew now how an animal at bay feels.
He has to stop when he is out of breath and climbs another tree to survey where his trap has been. The general is on his feet, but Ivan is not. Rainsford steels himself and runs again towards the "blue gap" of the sea. He reaches it, but the sea is twenty feet below. "He heard the hounds. Then he leaped far out into the sea."
[The final episode that is suspenseful is, of course, the appearance of Rainsford in the bedroom of General Zaroff and the duel between them.]
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