He prepared a b…

He prepared a bubble bath in the sink for the crockery, glass, and silverware, and with infinite care lowered the quamarine bowl into the tepid foam. Its resonant flint glass emitted a sound full of muffled mellowness as it settled down to soak. He rinsed the amber goblets and the silerware under the tap, and submerged them in the same foam. Then he fished out the knives, forks, and spoons, rinsed them, and began to wipe them all over again. He groped under the bubbles, around the goblets and under the melodious bowl, for any piece of forgotten silver–and retrieved a nutcracker. Fastidious Pnin rinsed it, and was wuping it, when the leggy thing somehow slipped out of the towel and fell like a man from a roof. He almost caught it–his fingertips only helped to properl it into the treasure-concealing foam of the sink, where an excruciating crack of broken glass followed upon the plunge.

Pnin hurled the towel into a corner and, turning away, stood for a moment staring at the blackness beyond the threshold of the open back door. A quiet, lacy-winged little green insext circled in the glare of a strong naked lamp above Pnin’s glossy bald head. He looked very old, with his toothless mouth half open and a film of tears dimming his blank, unblinking eyes. Then, with a moan of anguished anticipation, he went back to the sink and, bracing himself, dipped his hands deep into the foam. A jagger of glass stung him. Gently he removed a broken goblet. The beautiful bowl was intact. He took a fresh dish towel and went on with his household work.

Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov; 172-173 (1993, Vintage Books Edition)

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