The stranger

As usual he discriminated between the throbbing man and the one that looked on: looked on with concern, with sympathy, with a sigh, or with bland surprise… The stranger quietly watching the torrents of local grief from an abstract bank. A familiar figure, albeit anonymous and aloof. He saw me crying when I was ten and led me to a looking glass in an unused room (with an empty parrot cage in a corner) so that I might study my dissolving face. He has listened to me with raised eyebrows when I said things which I had no business to say. In every mask I tried on, there were slits for his eyes. Even at the very moment when I was rocked by the convulsion men value most. My saviour. My witness.

— Nabokov, Bend Sinister

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