It should be noted that the young man presents a sharp contrast to the other people Gortsby has been observing. He muses:
Dusk, to his mind, was the hour of the defeated. Men and women, who had fought and lost, who hid their fallen fortunes and dead hopes as far as possible from the scrutiny of the curious, came forth in this hour of gloaming, when their shabby clothes and bowed shoulders and unhappy eyes might pass unnoticed, or, at any rate, unrecognized.
The young stranger is described as "fairly well dressed" and not defeated-looking but angry and volatile. From his own story, the reader judges him as a affluent and accustomed to comfort, pleasure, and foreign travel. The fact that he has to have a special kind of soap is a good sign that he has refined tastes. The author several times refers to this as a "cake" of soap and not a "bar." For example:
Lying on the ground by the side of the bench was a small oval packet, wrapped and sealed with the solicitude of a chemist's counter.
The young man gives other details that characterize him as a member of a highly respectable social class. For example:
"In a foreign city I wouldn't mind so much," he said; "one could go to one's Consul and get the requisite help from him."
What is so unusual about this stranger's approach is that he does not pretend to be destitute and needy. He is not presenting himself as a beggar but as a person who is only temporarily in distress and more than capable and willing to pay the money back. This is an original scam. He makes it seem as if it would cost Gortsby nothing to help him out because he is a gentleman and would only be accepting a temporary loan which he would be able to pay back in just one or two days, as soon as he could locate the hotel where he has left his luggage and his money.
The young man has a very complicated story to tell, and the fact that he is able to express himself so clearly and fluently suggests that he has had a good education. The general picture he gives of himself is that of a refined, educated, honorable gentleman from a old rural English family who is well connected and generally worth knowing. Gortsby may believe that in doing this stranger a favor he might be making a valuable acquaintance--and that it wouldn't cost him anything because he would get his money back in the mail within a few days.
"Here is my card with my address," continued Gortsby; "any day this week will do for returning the money, and here is the soap - don't lose it again it's been a good friend to you."
It seems entirely possible that the young man was telling the truth and that he will repay the loan. But then Gortsby learns that the cake of soap he found belonged to the elderly gentleman who had been sitting beside him on the park bench before the young man took his place. Previously Gortsby had been thinking:
"If he had had the brilliant foresight to provide himself with a cake of soap, wrapped and sealed with all the solicitude of the chemist's counter, he would have been a genius in his particular line. In his particular line genius certainly consists of an infinite capacity for taking precautions."
Now Gortsby--and the reader--must be wondering if this elderly gentleman is going to tell the same story about having lost his hotel when he went out to buy a cake of soap. Only the elderly gentleman, just because he is elderly and more experienced, has provided himself with a cake of soap and actually displays it without being asked.