The Interlopers

the interlopersThe British writer H. H. Munro, also known by the Saki, is well-known for surprise endings. This story has perhaps the shortest surprise ending of all. It is just a single word, and doesn’t come until the last line of the story. Two families have been fighting for years over the use of a poor piece of forest land. The heads of the families find themselves facing a difficult situation together. This helps them see how silly they have been, and they promise to be friends for life. But just as they are looking forward to a future without fighting, some unexpected visitors it all.

Pre-Intermediate Vocabulary Help / Exercises

The words and expressions in our Pre-Intermediate level Simplified English story which are not in our 1200 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

There is also a word that is in our Pre-Intermediate word list but has a meaning in the story which is different to the one most commonly used. In the first paragraph we are told that the game Ulrich was looking for was not from the forest. Here the word means animals that are hunted.

Intermediate Vocabulary Help / Exercises

The words and expressions in our Intermediate level Simplified English story which are not in our 1800 word list are: curse, deer, faint, , , generation, , , injure, interloper, , , , , , , , , steep, , , , trunk, , , and .

There are also three words that are in our Intermediate word list but have a meaning in the story which is different to the one most commonly used:

  • We are told that if there was a man in the world whom Ulrich hated and wished ill to, it was Georg Znaeym. Here the word is a meaning harm or bad luck.
  • Ulrich’s legs were pinned under the trunk of the tree. The word here means to prevent or stop something from moving by pressing firmly against it.
  • While pinned under the tree, Ulrich brings his partially free arm near enough to his coat pocket to draw out his wine flask. In this case the word means to move (something) by pulling.

Who or What are The Interlopers?

An interesting question is just who or what are the “Interlopers” referred to in the title of the story.

Georg uses the term to describe two different groups of characters. First he talks about people who are trying to stop the fighting between the two families:

We fight this out to the death, you and I and our foresters, with no cursed interlopers to come between us.

Later he refers to other people who would try to stop them if they wanted to make peace:

And if we choose to make peace among our people there is none other to , no interlopers from outside.

It could be said that these human interlopers are mirrored in the story by two interlopers from nature. First, the falling tree comes between the two men and stops them fighting to the death. Then the wolves arrive, seemingly preventing the families from making a lasting peace.

I like to think that there may also be another set of interlopers: Ulrich and Georg themselves. They the natural order of things by bringing their feud into the forest. Munro uses to give the storm and the forest an almost human quality:

the whistling and ing of the wind and the restless beating of the branches… a of the storm… the ing of the wind… where the trees can’t even stand in a breath of wind… with the wind ing in s through the naked branches and whistling round the tree trunks…

Could it be that the death of the two men is nature’s way of ing them for being interlopers?

Or could there be a deeper meaning in the story? It is likely that the story was written between 1914 and 1916 during the period that Munro served in the British army in World War One. Although officially too old at 43, he had ed for service and was sent to France where he fought and wrote between battles.

the toys of peace bookIt has been suggested that The Interlopers is an about the war. Two families (groups of countries) are fighting over a number of unimportant issues. There are outsiders who try to stop the war, and others who oppose them. The men doing fighting on both sides, who in other s could have become good friends, suffer and die together. We will never know the answer to this question because Munro was killed during the war. The Interlopers was first published three years after his death in a book called The Toys of Peace and Other Papers, available in various forms from Project Gutenberg here, and as an from LibriVox here.


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pen name(n: pen-name pl pen-names) A name used by a writer instead of his or her real name. (นามปากกา)

1. (v: spoil, spoils, spoiled or spoilt, spoiling) To damage or ruin; to make bad or useless; to reduce the quality or value of. (ทำให้เสีย) 2. To give (a child etc) too much of what he or she wants and possibly make his or her character, behavior etc worse by doing it. (ตามใจจนเสียคน) 3000

rotten fruit spoiled-child

branch(n: branch pl branches) An arm-like part of a tree that grows out from the central part. (กิ่งก้าน) 2000

creature(n: creature pl creatures) A living being; an animal of any type, especially a non-human. (สัตว์; คน) 4000

curse(v: curse, curses, cursed, cursing) 1. To wish or say magic words so that trouble or bad luck may fall upon someone or something. (สาปแช่ง) 2. To use bad or violent language; to swear. (สบถ)
(n: curse pl curses) Something or someone believed to bring trouble or bad luck. (คำสาป) 4000

deer(n: deer pl deer) A wild, fast running grass-eating animal with four long, thin legs and branched horns (called antlers) if male. Often found in a group called a herd. (กวาง) 5000

faint(v: faint, faints, fainted, fainting) To feel weak or tired and suddenly fall down and become unconscious. (เป็นลม)
(adj: faint, fainter, faintest) 1. Feeling weak or tired, as if you are going to fall down. (อ่อนกำลัง) 2. Not clearly seen, heard, tasted, felt, etc. (จาง) 3000

generation(n: generation pl generations) 1. All the people of approximately the same age or living at the same time. We need to take better care of the environment for future generations. (คนรุ่นราวคราวเดียวกัน) 2. All of the people that are at the same stage of descent from a common ancestor. Mother and daughters represent two generations. (ชั่วอายุคน) 3. The average length of time between the birth of parents and the birth of their children, generally accepted as around 25-30 years. (ยุค ชั่วอายุ) 2000

guest(n: guest pl guests) 1. A visitor who stays in a hotel etc. We have accommodation for 500 guests. A person that you have invited to your house or to a particular event that you are paying for. We are having guests for dinner. Also an adjective: A guest bedroom. (ผู้มาเยือน) 3000

harm(n: harm, noncount) Physical or mental damage or injury; something that causes someone or something to be hurt, broken, made less valuable, successful, etc. (ความเสียหาย)
(v: harm, harms, harmed, harming) To cause harm. (ทำร้าย)
(adj: harmful) Causing or able to cause harm. (ซึ่งให้โทษ)
(adj: harmless) Not dangerous or harmful. (ซึ่งไม่เป็นอันตราย) 2000

hell(n: hell, singular) 1. The place where, according to some religions, the devil lives and evil people go after they die. (ขุมนรก) (n: noncount) 2. A very difficult or unpleasant situation or experience. I left the job because the boss made my life hell. (ความทรมาน) 1000

injure(v: injure, injured, injured, injuring) To harm or damage someone or something. (ทำร้าย)
(n: injury pl injuries) Damage to a person's or animal's body in an accident or attack. The motorcyclist received terrible injuries in the crash. (อันตราย) 2000

interloper(n: interloper pl interlopers) A person who is not wanted or welcome by the other people in a situation or place. I tried to help my neighbors, but they regarded me as an interloper. (คนเสือก) 13000

justice(n: justice, noncount) The quality of being fair or just; fairness or rightness in the treatment of other people. (ความยุติธรรม) 2000

murder(n: murder pl murders) The crime of deliberately killing a person. (การฆาตกรรม) 2000

pain(n: pain pl pains) The physical feeling caused by sickness, injury, or mental or emotional hurt. He felt a sharp pain in his back. It caused him pain to talk about his wife's death. (ความเจ็บปวด)
(adj: painful; painless) Causing pain. A painful injury. (ซึ่งก่อให้เกิดความเจ็บปวด) Without pain. Painless childbirth. (ซึ่งไม่เจ็บปวด) 2000

pray(v: pray, prays, prayed, praying) 1. To speak to God or someone or something that has special powers in order to express thanks or ask for something. 2. To hope or wish very much for something to happen. (สวดมนต์) 2000
(n: prayer; pl prayers) The words spoken to God when you give thanks or ask for something. (การสวดมนต์; การภาวนา) 2000

silence(n: silence, noncount) 1. [A period of time] when there is no sound. The teacher asked for silence in the room. I find it hard to sleep unless there is complete silence. (ความเงียบ)
(adj: silent) Used to describe someone or something that is not making noise. (เงียบ)
(adv: silently) In a silent way. (อย่างเงียบ ๆ) 3000

steep(adj: steep, steeper, steepest) [of a mountain, hill, stairs etc] Almost straight up and down; rising or falling very sharply. (สูงชัน) 3000

thief(n: thief pl thieves) Someone who takes (something) from the owner in a way that is wrong or against the law; a robber. The thief got away with all my money. (ขโมย) 3000

(n: trunk pl trunks) 1. The thick main stem of a tree from which the branches grow. (ลำต้น) 2. A large strong box that can be locked and used for holding clothes or other things, especially when traveling. (หีบใส่ของ) 3. The long nose of an elephant. (งวงช้าง) 4000

tree trunk wardrobe trunk elephant trunk

wolf(n: wolf pl wolves) A wild animal of the dog family, usually found hunting in groups called packs. (สุนัขป่า) 3000

game(n: game pl games) 1. A physical or mental activity or contest that has rules and that people do for pleasure. A card game. Party games. (การละเล่น) 2. (noncount) Animals that are hunted. Wild game. (สัตว์ป่าที่ถูกล่าเพื่อการกีฬา) 1000

feud(n: feud pl feuds) A long and angry fight or quarrel between two people or two groups (families, tribes, etc.). Because of a family feud, they did not see each other for ten years. (ความอาฆาต) 9000

flask(n: flask pl flasks) A container that is shaped like a flattened bottle which is used to carry drinks, especially alcohol. A flask of whiskey. A wine flask. (ขวดแก้ว) 6000

heal(v: heal, heals, healed, healing) (especially of cuts, wounds etc) To make or become healthy; to (cause to) return to a normal state or condition. The ointment will help heal the wound. Only time will heal the pain of losing her husband. (รักษา)
(n: healer pl healers) A person or thing that heals. Time is the great healer. (ผู้รักษา) 3000

hideous(adj: hideous) 1. Very ugly or unpleasnt. The room was filled with hideous furniture. A hideous crime. 2. Causing great harm or fear; terrible. A hideous disease. (น่ากลัว) 5000

marsh(n: marsh pl marshes) An area of soft, wet land that has many grasses and other plants but few if any trees; a wetland. (บึง) 5000

naked(adj: naked) 1. Not wearing any clothes; not covered by clothing; bare. A naked body; naked shoulders. (เปลือยกาย) 2. Without the usual covering. A naked light/sword (ซึ่งไม่มีการป้องกัน) 3. (of emotions, attitudes, etc.) Expressed strongly and not hidden. naked ambition, the naked truth (ไม่ปกปิด) 3000

rifle(n: rifle pl rifles) A gun that has a long barrel and that is held against your shoulder when you shoot it. (ปืนยาว) 5000

savage(adj: savage) Very cruel or violent; likely to cause harm or damage to someone or something. A savage attack/battle/storm. (ป่าเถื่อน)
(adv: savagely) In a savage way. He was savagely beaten. (อย่างป่าเถื่อน) 5000

shame(n: shame, noncount) 1. A feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness because you have failed at something or done something wrong or foolish. (ความอับอาย) 2. Something that causes such a feeling; a pity. (ความน่าเสียดาย) 2000
(adj: shameful) Something so bad that someone should feel shame because of it. (น่าละอาย)
(adj: shameless) Having done something shameful without feeling shame. (ซึ่งไม่อับอาย)

snarl(v: snarl, snarls, snarled, snarling) To make a deep, rough growling sound with the teeth showing (like an angry dog). (ขู่คำราม ใส่) 10000

split(v: split, splits, split, splitting) 1. To break, cut, rip, or tear (something) apart or into pieces, especially along a straight line. I need to split some more firewood. (ผ่า) 2. To separate or divide into parts or groups; to divide something, such as money or food, among two or more people or things. The class split into several small groups. We should split the costs. (แตกแยก)
(n: split pl splits) A narrow break, tear, or crack. There's a split down the back of your jacket. (รอยแตก) 2000

steal(v: steal, steals, stole, stolen, stealing) To take (something) from the owner in a way that is wrong or against the law. (ขโมย) 3000

tangle(v: tangle, tangles, tangled, tangling) To become or cause to become twisted together or confused. Fishing line tangles easily. He got tangled up in legal problems. (ทำให้ยุ่งเหยิง)
(n: tangle pl tangles) 1. A twisted knot of hair, thread, etc.. She brushed the tangles out of her hair. 2. A state of disorder or confusion. They got caught in a legal tangle. (ความยุ่งเหยิง)
(adj: tangled) In a tangle. Her hair is always tangled. (ซึ่งพันกันยุ่ง) 4000

thunder(n: thunder, noncount) The loud, deep rumbling sound that follows a flash of lightning during a storm. (ฟ้าร้อง)
(v: thunder, thunders, thundered, thundering) To make a very loud, deep noise. (ส่งเสียงดังคล้ายเสียงฟ้าร้อง) 3000

trickle(v: trickle, trickles, trickled, trickling) 1. To flow or fall in drops or small amounts. Blood was trickling down her face. (ไหลเป็นหยด) 2. To move or go slowly in small numbers or amounts. People trickled into the theater. (ทยอย) 7000

twig(n: twig pl twigs) A small branch of a tree or bush. We should gather up small twigs to start the campfire. (กิ่งไม้) 6000

undergrowth(n: undergrowth, noncount) Plants, bushes, and small trees growing under larger trees in a forest; underbrush (U.S.) She tripped over in the thick undergrowth. (พุ่มไม้) 9000

police whistlinggirl whistling(n: whistle pl whistles) A device through which air or steam is forced to produce a very high and loud sound. The policeman blew his whistle. (นกหวีด)
(v: whistle, whistles, whistled, whistling) 1. To produce a very high, often musical, sound by forcing air through your lips or teeth. He whistled a happy tune. (ผิวปาก) 2. To make such a sound with a whistle or by passing quickly through the air. The bullet whistled past his head. (ทำให้เกิดเสียงหวีดหวิว) 3. (of the wind) To blow with such a sound. (พัดให้เกิดเสียงหวีดหวิว) 3000

ill(adj: ill) 1. Not in good health; not well; sick or unhealthy. She was ill for a long time. (เจ็บป่วย) 2. Bad; harmful or damaging. Ill health. These pills have no ill effects. (ป่วย; ไม่สบาย) 3. Evil or unlucky. An ill omen. Ill luck. (โชคร้าย)
(n: ill pl ills) 1. (noncount) Harm or bad luck. I would never wish anyone ill. (ความชั่วร้าย) 2. (plural) Troubles or problems. All the ills of the world. (ความเดือดร้อน) 2000

(n: noun pl nouns) A word or group of words that is used as the name of something, such as a person, animal, place, thing, quality, idea, or action. (นาม)

pin(n: pin pl pins) A short, thin, pointed piece of metal used to hold things together. (เข็มหมุด)
(v: pin, pins, pinned, pinning) 1. To fasten or attach (something) with a pin. (กลัดติด) 2. To prevent or stop (someone or something) from moving by holding or pressing firmly against something. The fallen tree pinned him to the ground. (ตรึง) 2000

drawhansom cab(v: draw, draws, drew, drawn, drawing) 1. To make (a picture, image, etc.) by making lines on a surface, especially with a pencil, crayon, etc. but not usually with paint. He drew a picture of a flower. (วาดภาพ) 2. To move (something) by pulling. The carriage was drawn by two horses. (ดึง) 3. To move towards or away from someone or something. Christmas is drawing closer. (ลากออกไป) 4. To choose (a thing) from a group without knowing which one you are choosing. We drew names from a hat to decide who would go on the trip. 1000

external(adj: external) Located, seen, or used on the outside or surface of something; of, for, from, or on, the outside. (ภายนอก) 3000.
In literature, an 'external conflict' is a struggle a struggle between a character and an outside force such as nature or another character. (พาเหียรการต่อสู้)

quarrel(n: quarrel pl quarrels) An angry disagreement or argument. I've had a quarrel with my girl-friend and she is not speaking to me right now. (การทะเลาะ) 6000

interfere(v: interfere, interferes, interfered, interfering) To become involved in the activities and concerns of other people when your involvement is not wanted. I'm sick and tired of the way he's always interfering in my life. Don't interfere in other people's business! (ก้าวก่าย) 3000

disturb(v: disturb, disturbs, disturbed, disturbing) 1. To stop (someone) from working, sleeping, etc.; to interrupt or bother someone or something. (รบกวน) 2. To worry or upset someone; to trouble emotionally or mentally. (ทำให้วุ่นวาย) 3000

(n: personification, noncount) In literature, giving human-like qualities to animals, objects or ideas. Lightning danced across the sky. Time flies and waits for no one. (บุคลาธิษฐาน) 11000

skirl(n: skirl pl skirls) A high-pitched crying sound, like that of bagpipes.

fierce(adj: fierce) 1. Very violent and likely to fight. (ดุร้าย) 2. Very strong or intense; having or showing a lot of strong emotion. (รุนแรง) 3000

shriek(n: shriek pl shrieks) A loud, high-pitched cry or sound; a scream. She gave a shriek as she felt someone grab her arm. Shrieks of laughter. (เสียงกรีดร้อง) 7000

weary(adj: weary, wearier, weariest) 1. Not having enough strength, energy, or freshness because of a need for rest or sleep; tired. The miners were weary after a long night at work. 2. Bored or annoyed by something because you have seen it, heard it, done it, etc., many times or for a long time. I am weary of his jokes. (ซึ่งเหนื่อยอ่อน) 6000

screech(n: screech pl screeches) 1. A loud and very high cry that usually expresses great pain, anger, or fear. With a loud screech, she smashed the plate against the wall. 2. A loud and very high sound. The car stopped with a screech of brakes. (เสียงดังที่กรีดร้องออกมา) 8000

upright(adj: upright) 1. Standing straight up; erect or vertical. He placed the books upright in the bookcase. She stood upright. A row of upright posts. (ที่ตั้งขึ้น) 2. [of a person] Always behaving in an honest way; having high moral standards. An upright, honourable man. (ซื่อสัตย์) 5000

(v: tear, tears, tore, torn, tearing) 1. To separate (something) into parts with a sudden or hard pulling action; to put a hole in a piece of clothing, paper, etc., usually by cutting it on something sharp. (ฉีกออก) 2. To go or move very quickly; to rush. He went tearing down the street on his bicycle. (เคลื่อนที่หรือกระทำอย่างเร่งรีบ)
(n: tear pl tears) A drop of liquid that comes from your eyes, especially when you cry; a teardrop. (น้ำตา) 2000

tear paper teardrop

fitful(adj: fitful) Happening only for short periods; not continuous or regular. He had a few fitful hours of sleep. 14000

gust(n: gust pl gusts) A sudden strong wind. Today's weather will be windy, with gusts of up to 40 miles per hour. 8000

punish(v: punish, punishes, punished, punishing) To make (someone) suffer for a crime or for something done that is wrong. (ลงอาญา)
(n: punishment pl punishments) The act or way of making (someone) suffer for a crime or for something done that is wrong. (การลงโทษ) 3000

volunteer(n: volunteer pl volunteers) 1. Someone who does something (such as join the military) without being forced to. When the war started, he was one of the first to volunteer. 2. A person who does work without getting paid to do it. The school was built by volunteers. (ใจสมัคร) 2000

(n: allegory pl allegories) In literature, a story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life or for a political or historical situation. The book 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell is an allegory that uses animals on a farm to describe the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II and the Russian Communist Revolution before World War Two. (อุปมา นิ ทัศน์) 11000

(n: circumstance pl circumstances) 1. A condition or fact that affects a situation or event. I can't imagine a circumstance in/under which I would do that. 2. (plural) The way something happens; the specific details of an event. The circumstances of his death were unusual. 3. (plural) The conditions in which someone lives. Their circumstances changed after she lost her job. (สภาวะแวดล้อม) 2000

e-book(n: e-book pl e-books) A book whose contents are in an electronic format so that it can be downloaded and read.

audiobook(n: audiobook pl audiobooks) A book that is read out loud and recorded on a CD or as a computer file so that it can be listened to. (หนังสือเสียง)

A short (10 minute) video adaption of the story produced by Boulevard Avenue Films. Of the two videos presented here, this one remains closer to the original setting and dialogue. For me, the story loses something with the strong American accents and careful pronunciation of the actors. However, because of this, non-native speakers of English may find this story easier to understood than the 2008 video. To watch online, click here. To download the mp4, click here.
A short (9 minute) video adaption of the story produced by Fueld Films. This video changes the setting to the American “wild west”, and because of this the characters seem more natural than in the 2007 video. To watch online, click here. To download the mp4, click here.

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