Chapter 61 Summary

Reading Lolita’s letter fills Humbert with pain, but it also gives him a sense of urgency. Rita is passed out in bed, and he does not try to wake her. He kisses her forehead and tapes a note to her belly—because she is unlikely to find a message anywhere else. With that done, he leaves her forever.

Once again, Humbert sets out in Charlotte Haze’s old car. His only companion is his “little black chum”—the gun that he has been carrying for years. After driving for a few hours, he pulls over in a lonely place, hangs up an old sweater he finds in the car, and shoots it several times. When he is satisfied that he is skilled enough to murder Lolita’s husband, he packs up and drives on.

Lolita’s letter came from a town called Coalmont, and after a bit of research, Humbert figures out that it is eight hundred miles away. He considers driving all night and getting there in the morning, but after some consideration he decides to rest in a motel overnight. He does not sleep much, but in the morning, he takes advantage of the room in order to clean and groom himself beautifully. He puts on his very best clothes.

Humbert vomits up his breakfast, but he does not let this slow him down. He takes a pill, puts his pistol—“solid death”—in his pocket, and drives to Coalmont. There he finds a phone book and calls the only number listed under Lolita’s new surname, Schiller. He calls it and speaks to a man who gives him an address for Dick Schiller.

Humbert drives to this address and finds a filthy tenement. The people who live there say that Dick has long since moved away. The current residents include two little nymphets. Humbert thinks vaguely that, after he has doomed himself by committing murder, he might as well grab a little girl and do what he wants to her. He speaks briefly to the nymphets' parents, but they do not know the Schillers. They send him to talk to some grocery store clerks, one of whom eventually directs him to a house at the end of Hunter Road.

Following these directions, Humbert drives several miles to a neighborhood that looks even shabbier than the one he has just left. Lolita’s house is just a rundown shack. Humbert stops his car out front and sits for a moment, struggling with his emotions. He checks the gun. He tries not to panic.