The Interlopers Summary

"The Interlopers" by Saki is a short story about a feud between neighboring landowners Ulrich von Gradwitz and Georg Znaeym.

  • Ulrich and Georg are engaged in a feud that dates all the way back to their grandfathers, who had a nasty dispute over a piece of land between their properties.

  • One stormy night, both men decide that they will defend their claim to the land with force. Upon meeting, the two become pinned under a tree.

  • Both men have a sudden change of heart and agree to a complete reconciliation. They call out to their respective parties, but the sound attracts wolves.


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“The Interlopers” takes place during a stormy night in a forest in Central Europe, “on the eastern spurs” of the Carpathian Mountains. This is part of the estate of Ulrich von Gradwitz, who is standing in the forest, as though waiting for some game to shoot. However, he is not stalking an animal but another man. Although Gradwitz has a large estate, on which game is plentiful, he guards this particular narrow and unremarkable strip of land with greater care than any other part of his holdings. Following a legal dispute in the time of his grandfather, the Gradwitz family reasserted their claim to the land after a neighboring family had taken possession. The Znaeyms, their neighbors, had refused to accept the judgment of the court, and there has been a feud between the two families ever since. As a result, Gradwitz hates Georg Znaeym and is always trying to catch him hunting—or, as Gradwitz sees it, poaching—on the land. The two have hated each other since boyhood, lending further fuel to the longstanding feud in the form of personal animosity.

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Gradwitz is accompanied by a band of foresters, but he has broken away from them to see whether he can find Znaeym. He particularly wants to catch his enemy alone so that he can face him alone, with no witnesses. His wish is granted when he steps around the trunk of a large beech tree to find George Znaeym glaring at him, rifle in hand.

Neither man knows what to do. They are both sufficiently civilized to feel some compunction about shooting another man in cold blood, and they hesitate. As they are standing there, the storm suddenly surges, and the beech tree above them cracks and crashes down on them, pinning them both to the ground. Neither is seriously injured, but it is clear that they will not be able to move until someone comes to release them.

Znaeym laughs at Gradwitz, saying that it is a great joke and a form of poetic justice for Gradwitz to be trapped in the forest he stole. Gradwitz replies that he is on his own land and that when his foresters come to rescue them, Znaeym will be treated as a poacher. Znaeym responds that he is attended by men of his own and that they will be on the scene first. When they arrive, they will release Znaeym and roll the trunk over onto Gradwitz, crushing him so that his own men will eventually find nothing but a dead body. Gradwitz replies that this is a useful hint as to how his men should treat Znaeym when they arrive in a few minutes. Both agree that they and their men will fight to the death “with no cursed interlopers” to come between them. However, both Gradwitz and Znaeym know that it is a matter of mere chance whose men arrive first and that it may be a long...

(The entire section contains 814 words.)

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