He had just turned thirteen. He had never before left the comforts of the paternal roof. He had never before realized that such “comforts” might not be taken for granted, only occurring in some introductory ready-made metaphor in a book about a boy and a school. A few blocks from the school-grounds, a widow, Mrs. Tapirov, who was French but spoke English with a Russian accent, had a shop of objets d’art and more or less antique furniture. He visited it on a bright winter day. Crystal vases with crimson roses and golden-brown asters were set here and there in the fore part of the shop—on a gilt-wood console, on a lacquered chest, on the shelf of a cabinet, or simply along the carpeted steps leading to the next floor where great wardrobes and flashy dressers semi-encircled a singular company of harps. He satisfied himself that those flowers were artificial and thought it puzzling that such imitations always pander so exclusively to the eye instead of also copying the damp fat feel of live petal and leaf. When he called next day for the object (unremembered now, eighty years later) that he wanted repaired or duplicated, it was not ready or had not been obtained. In passing, he touched a half-opened rose and was cheated of the sterile texture his fingertips had expected when cool life kissed them with pouting lips. “My daughter,” said Mrs. Tapirov, who saw his surprise, “always puts a bunch of real ones among the fake pour attraper le client. You drew the joker.” As he was leaving she came in, a schoolgirl in a gray coat with brown shoulder-length ringlets and a pretty face. On another occasion (for a certain part of the thing—a frame, perhaps—took an infinite time to heal or else the entire article proved to be unobtainable after all) he saw her curled up with her schoolbooks in an armchair—a domestic item among those for sale. He never spoke to her. He loved her madly. It must have lasted at least one term.
— Vladimir Nabokov, “Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle”