_____Good company and good food put the narrator in a pleasant mood. Saint-Loup, noting the narrator's attention to his new (still unnamed) friend, "half joking, half in earnest," claims to be jealous, causing the narrator to reflect,
Men who are enormously in love with women, who live in a society of woman-lovers, permit themselves to joke in a way that others, less easily deceived by harmless pleasantry, would never dare to.However much truth there is in this observation about male camaraderie, methinks the narrator doth proclaim his and Saint-Loup's heterosexuality a bit too much.
Even though he has claimed that the good fellowship has helped put Mme. de Guermantes out of his mind for a while, he notes that "There were evenings when, as I crossed the town on my way to the restaurant, I felt so great a pang of longing for Mme de Guermantes that it took my breath away." He likens his suffering to that "I had experienced in connection with Gilberte -- or on those occasions in Combray when Mama had not stayed in my room, and also when I recalled ertaiin pages of Bergotte."
Meanwhile, Saint-Loup and his mistress have had a falling-out, and he is miserable, too. He has a dream in which he is in a country house and hears "the intermittently regular cries that his mistress was apt to make at moments of orgasm" coming from another room. But they begin the process of reconciliation with a stipulation from her that he not come to see her until January 1. This disturbs the narrator because it means postponing Saint-Loup's promise to introduce him to Mme. de Guermantes the next time they're in Paris together. When Saint-Loup says he won't be going back to the city until Easter, the narrator tells him that he'll at Balbec then -- his family thinks a stay there earlier in the year will be good for his health.
Finally, the narrator hits on a stratagem: He knows that the Duchesse has some paintings by Elstir in her collection, so he suggests that Saint-Loup write to her and ask her to give the narrator permission to come see the paintings. Saint-Loup gladly agrees.
The selection ends with a conversation about Saint-Loup's captain, the Prince de Borodino, which leads into the narrator's reflections on "the differences between the two aristocracies: the old nobility and that of the Empire." Saint-Loup belongs to the former, the Prince de Borodino to the latter.
The fact was that the Prince, whose grandfather had been made a maréchal and a prince-duc by the Emperor, into whose family he had subsequently married, and whose father had then married a cousin of Napoleon III and had twice been a minister after the coup d'état, felt that all of this meant very little to Saint-Loup and the Guermantes set.The tangle of bloodlines and French history is complicated, and for the reader who just wants to get on with the story a little boring, but Proust's aim is to present French society in as much detail as possible.