_____At Saint-Loup's suggestion, the narrator's grandmother telephones him, a "time-consuming and inconvenient" process that involves going to the post office and waiting for her call. It also produces a characteristically Proustian account of the then unfamiliar business of talking on the phone, including some rather twee personifications of telephone operators as "the Vigilant Virgins ... the All-Powerful Ones who conjure absent beings to our presence ... the Danaids of the unseen ... the ironic Furies ... the forever fractious servants of the Mysteries ... the shadowy priestesses of the Invisible ... the Young Ladies of the Telephone!" And when his grandmother does come on the line, "the isolation of the voice was like a symbol, an evocation, a direct consequence of another isoation, that of my grandmother, separated from me for the first time."
The result is that homesickness wells up in him and he decides to return to Paris. Circumstances prevent him from saying good-bye to Saint-Loup before his departure, but he leaves nevertheless: "I had to free myself as quickly as possible, in her arms, from the ghostly image, unsuspected until now but suddenly evoked by her voice, of a grandmother who was really separated from me." It's an oddly powerful suggestion of the impact that the telephone might have had, at least on someone as sensitive as the narrator, in its early days.
And he has another shock coming when he sees his grandmother, unaware of his arrival, after what has been apparently only a couple of weeks' absence.
We never see those who are dear to us except in the animated workings, the perpetual motion of our incessant love for them, which, before allowing the images their faces represent to reach us, draws them into its vortex, flings them back onto the idea we have always had, makes them adhere to it, coincide with it.Habit has made him "neglect what had become dulled and change about her," so that "for the first time and for a mere second, since she vanished almost immediately, I saw, sitting there on the sofa beneath the lamp, red-faced, heavy, and vulgar, ill, her mind in a daze, the slightly crazed eyes wandering over a book, a crushed old woman whom I did not know." Has separation from home made the narrator grow up a little?
On the other hand, his obsession with Mme. de Guermantes has not faded, and he is disappointed that Saint-Loup has evidently forgotten to write to her about giving him permission to see her paintings by Elstir, for he receives no invitation to do so.