A bar of soap in the story "Dusk" belongs to whom: the Young Man or the Old man?
The cake of soap obviously belongs to the elderly gentleman, but there are several questions it raises. For one thing, Gortsby found the soap and gave it to the young man who had told him the cock-and-bull story about losing his hotel. Now what should Gortsby tell the elderly gentleman? If he says he found it and gave it away to a stranger, wouldn't he be expected to pay for the soap? It must be important to the owner, since he is going to so much trouble trying to find it. If Gortsby paid for the soap, then he would be out the sovereign plus the cost of another cake of soap. But suppose this elderly gentleman is another con artist? Suppose he deliberately left the soap under the bench so that he could come back to to retrieve it and use this as a conversation opener with Gortsby? Suppose he is working exactly the same grift as the other man but, being older and more experienced, he has had the foresight to procure a cake of soap as evidence to substantiate his story? This old man may have been expecting to find Gortsby still sitting on the bench and may have been planning to use it as "Exhibit A," so to speak, as evidence to substantiate his story that he is a stranger in London and couldn't find his hotel after he went out to buy the soap. Gortsby is in a ticklish position. If he believes the elderly gentleman is an honest citizen, then he should probably offer to pay for the soap. But if he believe the elderly gentleman is another con artist, then he should probably say nothing and go on his way. A cake of soap probably wouldn't cost very much, but it would be aggravating to have to pay more money to another stranger after being swindled out of a sovereign. What hurts about being cheated out of a small sum of money is not the loss of the money but the memory of having been taken for a fool.
In the short story "Dusk," the bar of soap belongs to the old man who sat down next to Gortsby first.
The old man sat down on the park bench next to Gortsby. His bar of soap must have fallen from his coat.
The young man sits down after the old man hast left. The young man tells a story about buying a bar of soap. He tells about losing his way back to his hotel. Gortsby tells him the story would be credible if he could produce a bar of soap. With this comment, the young man leaves.
Then, Gortsby finds a bar of soap under the park bench and thinks it belongs to the young man. Gortsby chases the young man and gives him the bar of soap. Gortsby also gives the young man a loan of money. Since the bar of soap proves the young man's story, Gortsby believes the young man and loans him money for the night.
Passing the park bench where Gortsby had been sitting, he sees the old man looking for something. Gortsby inquires. He asks the old man what he is looking for. The old man says a bar of soap:
As Gortsby walks back, he passes the bench where he had been sitting. He notices the old man who had also been sitting there earlier. The old man is now searching for something. When Gortsby asks if the old man has lost anything, the man replies, “Yes, sir, a cake of soap.”
Gortsby feels like a fool for trusting the young man. He has loaned money that he will never see again.