"Genius certainly consists of an infinite capacity for taking precautions." What precaution is Gortsby asking the young man to take in "Dusk"?

The precaution that Gortsby is asking the young man to take is to make sure that his attempts to con money out of people are at least based on a convincing story. If the young man had kept a fresh bar of soap on him, then his story about not remembering the name of whereabouts of his hotel would've been more plausible.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The young man in Saki's “Dusk ” appears to be something of a con artist who has just spun Norman Gortsby an elaborate story. Apparently, the young man came to London only to find that his hotel had been demolished. After finding alternative accommodation on the recommendation of...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The young man in Saki's “Dusk” appears to be something of a con artist who has just spun Norman Gortsby an elaborate story. Apparently, the young man came to London only to find that his hotel had been demolished. After finding alternative accommodation on the recommendation of a cab driver, he then went out to buy a bar of soap, as he didn't much care for the soap provided by hotels.

Once he'd bought the soap, he somehow managed to forget the name and location of the hotel. Now he has nowhere to stay and so needs someone to loan him some money so he'll have somewhere to stay for the night.

Gortsby finds the young man's story quite plausible, except for one minor detail. If the young man really had bought some soap, then surely he'd have it on his person. But there's no sign of it, and the young man can only claim, somewhat unconvincingly, that he must have lost it.

Gortsby's not convinced. But he has to admire the young man's efforts to obtain money. If only he'd exercised the proper precautions in concocting his story and brought a bar of soap with him, then he might very well have succeeded.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on