"Ulrich Von Gradwitz patrolled the dark forest in quest of a human enemy." And so we learn of the intense hatred between two men, fueled by decades--triggered by a land dispute. The disputed land was fought over, litigated over, and now, would be died over.
On this dark night Gradwitz dreams of coming upon Georg Znaeym and when he does, the two men seethe with the inherited hate, lusting for murder. But fate intervenes when the storm sweeps through and breaks the branch of a beech tree which lands on the two men, crushing and pinning them in place--side by side.
Rendered helpless, they still have their words of hate and those words spew forth. Each man claims his workers are searching for him and will arrive within minutes. The first man whose help arrives, will leave the other man to die, and it will give him great satisfaction.
Each man's eyes are crusted with blood. Georg is blinded by his blood and unable to wipe his eyes clean.
As time passes, each man more miserable in his pain, sobered by his condition, the futility of their hateful thirst becomes apparent. The ceasefire begins when Ulrich offers his wine flask to Georg. Georg at first refuses to drink with an enemy. The irony of their dire situation, two enemies pinned and helpless, humbles them into reconciliation. How futile all those years of fighting have been! They promise to become friends, promise to change, to even enjoy one another's company. Together now, they will try to survive.
Together, they call for help. Together they hear distant sounds and together they are infused with hope.
"Is it my men or yours?" It doesn't matter because both men have resolved to help the other man first. Charity looms large among the repentant. Ulrich sees the search parties. "They are close!" When they are even closer, he laughs in defeat. Wolves.
Saki, or H. H. Munro, wrote The Interlopers almost a century ago, but it couldn't be more timely than the present.
When we are divided, whether it is as a nation, as a family or as an individual, we are open to destruction, open to the wolves who bound exuberantly down the hill where we are pinned and helpless by our own doing or an ironic twist of fate. Division is an open wound and until it is healed, is susceptible to ravaging wolves...and do not doubt...there are wolves.