Mere verbal heart props

What change could our friend discern in her? What change could there be, good God! There she was. She always felt hot and buoyant, no matter the cold, and now her sealskin coat was wide open on her frilled blouse as she hugged Pnin’s head and he felt the grapefruit fragrance of her neck, and kept muttering: “Nu, nu, vot i horosho, nu vot” — mere verbal heart props — and she cried out: “Oh, he has splendid new teeth!” He helped her into a taxi, her bright diaphanous scarf caught on something, and Pnin slipped on the pavement, and the taximan said “Easy,” and took her bag from him, and everything had happened before, in this exact sequence.

— Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin

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