Dusk is a story set, as the title suggests during Dusk, in a somber town. The protagonist of the story, which is narrated in a third-person perspective, is Norman Gortsby, a man who sees and reflects the hour in focus. He feels, dusk is the hour of the defeated, when people can hide who they really are, and walk in the shadows, from a distance.
Gortsby sat down on a bench and observed and drew conclusions about everyone who passed his sight. Since he was affluent enough, he kept thinking about everyone, and their statuses. He presently spots an elderly man, in a visibly sad and melancholy state, occupying the bench next to his. Gortsby thought of his state too and imagined the bad conditions he was in. The man leaves and the seat is soon occupied by another man, who is clearly irritated and disturbed.
Intrigued, Gortsby strikes up a conversation.
The man, tells a story of distress, narrating various incidents throughout the day, which made him reach such a mental state. He says he had gone to a hotel, which apparently had been demolished a few weeks back, and a cinema hall took its place. So he moved to another hotel and set out to buy some soap because he despised hotel soap. He went out and had a few drinks and enjoyed a bit, only to realize that he had forgotten the address of his new hotel, and to carry any extra money. He feels, his story is rather impossible and tells the same to Gortsby, hoping that by now, the latter would be laughing in his mind, to the lie. However, Gortsby believed the tale, because he had, had the same experience a few years back, when he was in a foreign land himself. Gortsby was prepared to help, but as the former couldn’t produce the cake of soap, Gortsby took him to be a conman and rejected the idea of helping the man. Gortsby smiled to himself, feeling proud at his achievement at deduction. Things take an interesting turn when Gortsby finds the cake of soap on the bench where the man was seated. Realizing his mistake he runs and catches up with the man and gives him a sovereign to return any time that week. Gortsby returns to his seat at the park. This is when a man comes in, to reveal a surprising turn of events that take place in just three lines of the story which ends it too.
While the climax is totally unexpected, it leaves the readers with a wry smile and makes them think as to what really happened. A touch of the transcendental with a typical Saki ending makes this story a great read for most ages.
As for Norman Gortsby, many believe that he voices the common man, who belongs to bourgeois families. We try and try and toil to win the race of our lives, yet at some point, we fail. While, an adult review of the story may involve midlife crisis, and themes like the importance of setting, a more light review set the story as a thrilling and thinking one.