_____Charlus has arrived, though Mme. de Villeparisis was not too happy about it, largely because he could be unpredictable and, as the narrator puts it, "was the soul of indiscretion." Charlus has yet to acknowledge the narrator, who observes, "The tuft of his gray hair, the twinkling eye beneath the eyebrow pushed up by his monocle, the red flowers in his buttonhole were like three mobile apexes in a convulsive and striking triangle.... [T]he Baron's roving eyes, like those of a street hawker constantly on the lookout for the 'cops' to appear, had certainly explored every corner of the room and taken in everybody there."
Odette, too, is somewhat distant, and when the narrator says something nice about de Norpois to her, she tells him that Charlus said that at a dinner recently de Norpois had referred to the narrator as "a hysterical little flatterer." The narrator, realizing that he had once tried to use de Norpois to get an introduction to Odette, changes the subject to the Duchesse de Guermantes. "Mme Swann adopted the pretense of regarding her as a person of no interest, whose presence one did not even notices."
Then, "in my attempt to form an exact picture of the life of Mme de Guermantes," he asks Mme. de Villeparisis about Mme. Leroi, who refers to her "with affected disdain" as "the daughter of those wealthy timber merchants.... I've known such interesting, such delightful people in my time that I can't really think that Mme Leroi could add anything further to that." She asks de Norpois whether Mme. Leroi isn't "very inferior to all the people who come here," but he responds only with an enigmatic bow. So she says to the narrator, "there are some absurd people about. Would you believe that I was visited this afternoon by a gentleman who tried to persuade me that he found more pleasure in kissing my hand than a young woman's." The narrator knows "immediately that this must have been Legrandin."
Next he talks with Saint-Loup and suggests that they dine together the next day, and discovers that Saint-Loup is dining with Bloch, who has so recently been denouncing him to everyone. Saint-Loup says, "I think it's friendship for life between us, on his part at least." The narrator is not surprised: "To fulminate against someone was often Bloch's way of showing a keen sympathy that he had supposed was not reciprocal."
And speaking of abrupt reversals, Charlus suddenly invites the narrator to visit him. But their conversation is interrupted by Saint-Loup's departure, after a small quarrel with his mother. She expresses her distress to the narrator, who "was glad not to give her the impression by leaving with Robert that I was involved in the pleasures that deprived her of him."
The narrator's involvement in society has become much more complicated.At that moment I would have undertaken a mission to make Robert break with his mistress as readily as I had been to make him go and live with her permanently a few hours earlier. In the one case, Saint-Loup would have regarded me as a false friend; in the other, his family would have called me his evil genius. Yet, in that interval of a few hours, I was the same man.