Chapter 28 Summary
Speaking directly to his readers and referring to them as his “jury,” Humbert explains that, when he first took Lolita away from camp, he was totally unprepared for her. He claims that he wishes he had never returned to the hotel room. Life would be far better now if he had simply abandoned the child at the Enchanted Hunters and gone on with his life. However, he was too strongly tempted by her. He remained resolved that he would treat her in a way he considered acceptable:
I was still firmly resolved to pursue my policy of sparing her purity by operating only in the stealth of night, only upon a completely anesthetized little nude.
He explains that, before this night, he never had much opportunity to learn how corrupt and promiscuous a modern nymphet could be. He simply assumed that Lolita fit his inexperienced notion of a “normal child.” She was not what he expected.
Returning to the main thread of the narrative, Humbert describes strolling through the hotel, waiting for Lolita to become unconscious. He is eager, his mind full of imagined images of Lolita’s naked body, but he forces himself to be patient. He makes a show of asking the hotel manager if his wife has called. He also asks if a cot has become available. Afterward, he continues wandering, catching glimpses here and there of a little nymphet who is vacationing with her parents.
At this point, Humbert has an odd encounter with a man who is sitting with his face obscured in the shadows. “Where the devil did you get her?” the man asks. When Humbert asks what he means, the mysterious speaker says he was asking about the weather. Moments later, the stranger asks who the little girl is, and Humbert says she is his daughter. “You lie—she’s not,” the man says. But when Humbert asks for clarification, the man in the shadows claims he said something far more innocuous: “July was hot.” It is obvious that he expects something illicit is going on.
It is unclear whether Humbert thinks this encounter is a hallucination brought on by his guilty conscience or merely a creepy conversation with a very odd man. Nevertheless, Humbert does not dwell on it. Unable to wait any longer, he goes upstairs. He forces himself to walk slowly so that he will not arouse suspicion. At the doorway, his conscious starts to suggest that he turn back—but before he finishes forming that thought, he unlocks the door and enters the room.