Part II, Chapter III, from "A great musician, a member of the Institute,..." to "...no one I have to say a single thank-you to."
Charlus's ignorance of the talk about his relationship with Morel continues when the Verdurins are visited by a famous musician. Morel urges the Baron to flatter the man, for the sake of Morel's career, which he does. But as the narrator notes, Charlus is unaware that the musician "had asked Ski, referring to M. de Charlus and Morel, as he might have done to a man and his mistress: 'Have they been together long?'" The musician is a "man of the world," however, and means no malice toward Morel or Charlus. The narrator compares Charlus to a fish swimming in a tank, which lives in ignorance of "the amused passerby who is following his antics, or the all-powerful pisciculturalist who, at the unforeseen and fatal moment, deferred at this moment in the case of the Baron (for whom the pisciculturalist, in Paris, will be Mme Verdurin), will pull him ruthlessly out from the medium in which he had liked living, to toss him into another one."
There follows several pages of dense and allusive literary talk, centering mostly on Balzac, between Charlus and Brichot, with occasional contributions from Cottard, in the midst of which Charlus refers to the "pederasty" of some of Balzac's characters. When he utters the word, "Ski, Brichot, and Cottard had looked at one another with a smile that was less ironic perhaps than imbued with the satisfaction that dinner guests might feel who had succeeded in getting Dreyfus to talk about his own Affair, or the Empress about her reign." But when Ski tries to get him to elaborate on the subject, "the Baron assumed the annoyed, mysterious, and finally (seeing they were not listening to him) severe and judicial expression of a father hearing improprieties being spoken in front of his daughter." He tries to change the subject to "things that might interest this young lady" -- indicating Albertine but, the narrator observes, clearly meaning Morel. In fact, Charlus later confirms this for the narrator:
"You know," he said to me, referring to the violinist, "he's not at all what you might think, he's a very decent boy who's always stayed very sensible, very responsible." And you felt from these words that M. de Charlus looked on sexual inversion as a danger equally as threatening for young men as prostitution is for women, and that, if he used the epithet ''responsible" in connection with Morel, it was in the sense that it acquires when applied to a young working girl.
Charlus is also concerned that, when he returns to Paris with Morel, "the latter's family might step in and his happiness be put in jeopardy."
As for Morel, it's clear to the narrator that he's simply using the Baron for advancement. Morel talks to the narrator "exactly as Rachel, Saint-Loup's mistress, had once done," and "judging by what M. de Charlus repeated to me, said the same things about me in my absence as Rachel had said about me to Robert." But he also treats the Baron cruelly when he's in the company of other soldiers, greeting him with "a shrug of the shoulders" and "a wink to his comrades," pretending to be asleep, or coughing as a signal to the others to "jokingly adopt the mincing speech of men of M. de Charlus's kind." He would finally return, "as though having been forced," to the Baron, "whose heart had been pierced by all these arrows."
Charlus even tries to get Morel to change his name to something that echoes his, such as "Charmel." But he doesn't understand that "the name Morel was indissolubly linked to his first prize for violin, hence any modification was out of the question." Morel also doesn't like to be reminded of the difference in social status between them:
"There was a time when my forebears were proud of the title of valet de chambre, of maître d'hôtel to the King." "There was another time," answered Morel haughtily, "when my forebears cut the throats of yours."
As the narrator anticipates, this relationship doesn't work out well.