Part II, Chapter II, from "We were, Albertine and I, in front of the Balbec station..." to "...the parallel ranges of distant, blue-colored foothills."
At the Balbec train station, Albertine and the narrator see M. Nissim Bernard sporting a black eye, given him by the twin brother of a farmboy he had been having sex with. Then the "lift" arrives with a message for the narrator: Mme. Verdurin had telephoned the hotel to invite him to dine with her at one of her "Wednesdays." The narrator is eager to go so he can see if Mme. Putbus has arrived with her lady's maid. He wants to check out the maid's plans to visit Balbec "so as to take Albertine well away on the day in question."
They are on their way to Doncières to meet Saint-Loup, and are forced to share a carriage with "a lady with an enormous, ugly old face, and a mannish expression, very overdressed, who was reading the Revue des deux mondes." He had been hoping "to kiss Albertine all through the journey," but the "extremely dignified" lady, who the narrator decides must be "the manageress of some large brothel," stays on for the whole trip.
At Doncières, Saint-Loup is able to visit with them for only an hour, which turns out to be fine with the narrator because "no sooner had she alighted from the carriage than Albertine's attention was all for Saint-Loup." Fortunately, Saint-Loup resists her flirting. When he leaves them at the station, he mentions that Charlus will be arriving there shortly to take the train for Paris. And soon the Baron arrives,
in a light-colored traveling suit that made him look fatter, waddling as he walked, swinging a belly that was becoming a paunch and an almost symbolic behind, the cruelty of the broad daylight had broken down, into rouge on his lips, into rice powder fixed by cold cream on the tip of his nose, into black on the dyed mustache whose ebony color contrasted with his graying hair, everything that in an artificial light would have seemed to be enlivening the complexion of someone still young.
Charlus asks the narrator to call over a young soldier whose insignia show him to be a member of the regimental band, claiming that the man is a relative of his. But the narrator is surprised to find that the soldier is Charles Morel. Charlus continues his conversation with Morel after sending the narrator on his way, and the narrator watches from the carriage, realizing that "M. de Charlus had never in his life met Morel, nor Morel M. de Charlus." And when the Paris train arrives, Charlus doesn't get on it. The looks he gives Morel "would have been recognized by three out of four society people, who bowed to him, but not by the chief of police, who, a few years later, was to put him under surveillance."
In the train, the narrator and Albertine talk about Saint-Loup, and he concludes, "Because she had seemed to feel desire for Saint-Loup, I felt more or less cured for some time of the idea that she loved women, which I imagined to be incompatible."