When Ulrich offers to be Georg's friend in "The Interlopers" by Saki, what is Georg's reaction?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Everything that happens in "The Interlopers" by Saki is connected to one significant reality: Georg Znaeym and Ulrich von Gradwitz are the latest members of a three-generation feud and they detest one another. The feud is over a "stupid strip of forest" that was granted to Ulrich's family by the courts, a ruling which Georg's family never accepted. The two men are both armed and in the forest on this stormy night, each ready to kill the other when a tree unexpectedly falls on them both and pins them to the ground.

At first, both men take great delight in threatening, sneering at, and taunting one another; however, when Ulrich has some time to think, he says:

"Lying here to-night thinking I've come to think we've been rather fools; there are better things in life than getting the better of a boundary dispute. Neighbour, if you will help me to bury the old quarrel I--I will ask you to be my friend."

It is a surprising thing (shocking, really) for Ulrich to offer, and it is equally surprising (shocking) that Georg does not respond immediately with an insult or a scornful laugh. Instead he is utterly silent, and he stays that way for so long that Ulrich is convinced Georg has passed out from his injuries. Finally Georg speaks haltingly and kind of jokes around at the idea that the townspeople would be stunned if their feud were over; not only that, the people themselves would be at peace if the feud ended. 

"And if we choose to make peace among our people there is none other to interfere, no interlopers from outside ..You would come and keep the Sylvester night beneath my roof, and I would come and feast on some high day at your castle...I would never fire a shot on your land, save when you invited me as a guest; and you should come and shoot with me down in the marshes where the wildfowl are. In all the countryside there are none that could hinder if we willed to make peace. I never thought to have wanted to do other than hate you all my life, but I think I have changed my mind about things too, this last half-hour. And you offered me your wineflask...Ulrich von Gradwitz, I will be your friend."

In the end, Georg accepts the offer of friendship from his former enemy, and for the rest of the story, both men try to outdo one another in offering to make sure the other is rescued first when their men arrive. What happens after this unexpected conversation is a great irony, but for now the men have settled their centuries-old feud. 

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The Interlopers

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