Part II, Chapter II, from "Two days later, on the famous Wednesday..." to "...the Princesse lived strictly confined in the midst of the faithful."
Cottard meets the narrator at the train station for the Verdurins' "Wednesday," and we are treated to several portraits of the Patronne's followers. Cottard himself has changed somewhat since his ascension to celebrity: "these days he oozed self-assurance, but out of self-satisfaction." Saniette, however, remains much the same: "often boring" and desperately unable to do anything about it, usually making matters worse in the process so that his attempts at conversation "merely succeeded in seeming interminable."
A new member of the Verdurin circle is "the sculptor Ski, so called because of the difficulty they found in pronouncing his Polish name." He is "forty-five and extremely ugly," but "Mme Verdurin claimed he was more artistic than Elstir." But Elstir regards Ski with "that profound repulsion that is inspired in us ... by those who resemble us only on our worst side, in whom are displayed what is least good about us, the faults which we have cured, unfortunate reminders to us of how we may have appeared to some before we became what we are." Mme. Verdurin's admiration of Ski is heightened by his "laziness" which "seemed to the Patronne to be one more gift, being the opposite of hard work, which she thought was the lot of those without genius."
But the pride of the Verdurin salon is the Princesse Sherbatoff, who has "quarreled with her family" and is "an exile from her homeland, no longer knowing anyone except the Baronne Putbus and the Grande Duchesse Eudoxie, to whom, because she had no wish to meet the women friends of the first, and because the second had no wish for her women friends to meet the Princesse, ... went only at those morning hours when Mme Verdurin was still asleep." The Princesse says, "'I frequent only three houses,' like those authors who, afraid of being unable to stretch to a fourth, announce that their play will have only three performances." The Verdurins had managed to persuade their little set that "the Princesse, out of the thousands of connections available to her, had chosen the Verdurins alone, and that the Verdurins, solicited in vain by the whole of the upper aristocracy, had consented to make only one exception, in favor of the Princesse."