illustration of a wolf standing in the forest looking toward a fallen tree that has pinned a man underneath

The Interlopers

by Saki

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Why does Ulrich offer to be Georg's friend?

Ulrich offers to be Georg's friend because it suddenly strikes him as ridiculous that their families have been fighting for so long over a piece of land that isn't special. He offers Georg some wine and then his friendship so that they can move on to other, more important matters in life.

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Ulrich von Gradwitz offers to be Georg Znaeym's friend because his own "pain and languor" as well as the sight of Georg's grim fight "against pain and exhaustion," both of them helplessly trapped under the tree, is lessening the "old fierce hatred" Ulrich has long felt for Georg.

Georg has made it clear that if his men find the pair of them first, he will make sure that they roll the tree onto Ulrich and make his death seem like an accident. In response, Ulrich has vowed the same fate for Georg if Ulrich's men arrive on the scene first. However, both men know it is a matter of chance whose men will come first and, so, which of them will die tonight. Ulrich reaches into his pocket for his flask, filled with good wine, and the liquid is "warming and reviving" to him, making it easier to bear the pain he's in. He has a "sudden" impulse, it seems, to be generous to his enemy.

Though Georg refuses the initial overture of peace, Ulrich declares that he has "changed [his] mind" and that he will instruct his men to help Georg even before they help Ulrich himself. He finds it ridiculous that they have "quarrelled like devils all [their] lives" over a small piece of forest where the "trees can't even stand upright in a breath of wind." He thinks that they've been "fools" to engage in this dispute for so long and that "there are better things in life" to do. He offers his friendship to Georg.

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