Part II, Chapter III, from "What I did not, alas, know at that time..." to "...despite their obedient silence, I had not pursued."
The narrator gives us a hint that there's more significance to the hired motorcar than just an ability to speed around the countryside. He will learn much later, he tells us, that the chauffeur also worked for Charlus, and that he was a friend of Charles Morel, who got a kickback for leading him to customers. "Had I known this at the time, and that the confidence which the Verdurins soon felt in this chauffeur had derived, unbeknown to them, therefrom, perhaps many of the sorrows of my life in Paris the following year, many of my misfortunes relative to Albertine, might have been avoided."
The narrator now gives us an account of a meal taken by Charlus and Morel at "a restaurant along the coast" -- an occasion at which he wasn't present but of which he somehow has full knowledge. (Proust increasingly shows little interest in limiting the novel's point of view to its narrator.) The scene reveals how Morel is getting his hooks into the Baron, whom he teases with a fantasy:
"You know," said Morel, anxious to excite the Baron's senses in a manner that he adjudged to be less compromising for himself (although it was in point of fact more immoral), "my dream would be to find a perfectly innocent young girl, make her fall in love with me, and take her virginity."
Charlus is titillated by the fantasy, and by Morel's adding that he would "ditch her the same evening." "M. de Charlus was in the habit, when a fiction was able to produce in him a moment's sensual pleasure, of giving it his approval, while being prepared to withdraw this a few moments later, once the pleasure had worn off." But Charlus is shocked when he realizes that Morel's fantasy centers on Jupien's niece (misidentified by him here as Jupien's daughter). The narrator comments, "The young girl was very hardworking and had not taken any vacation, but I have learned since that, while the violinist was in the neighborhood of Balbec, she could not stop thinking of his handsome face, ennobled by the fact that, having seen Morel with me, she had taken him for a 'gentleman.'"
Still, the point is that Morel has given Charlus a thrill, "that the idea that Morel would have no compunction in 'ditching' a girl he had violated had suddenly caused him to experience total pleasure." It has awakened the sadist in Charlus: Remember his "deranged" fantasy about Bloch beating his mother. But it's a momentary pleasure, and the narrator observes that the sadist soon hands "the floor back to the real M. de Charlus, full of artistic refinement, sensitivity, and kindness." It is, however, a foreshadowing of the way in which the relationship between Charlus and Morel will develop:
Unfortunately for M. de Charlus, his lack of common sense, and perhaps the chasteness of the relationship he probably enjoyed with Morel, made him rack his brains from that time on to overwhelm the violinist with strange acts of kindness that the latter could not understand, and to which his nature, wild in its way, yet also mean and ungrateful, could respond only with an ever-increasing indifference or violence, which plunged M. de Charlus -- once so proud, now quite timid -- into fits of genuine despair.
And meanwhile, the narrator's own relationship with Albertine is also turning stranger. He is realizing "that my fate was to pursue only phantoms, beings whose reality lay in part in my imagination." He recognizes his kinship with Swann, "he who had been a connoisseur of phantoms." He "perhaps felt love for Albertine," but mostly what he experiences is jealousy, not wanting to let her out of his sight. They go to have lunch at Rivebelle, but he grows obsessed with her interest in a young waiter with black hair, busily dashing from table to table.
For a moment I wondered whether, in order to follow him, she might not be going to leave me on my own at the table. But from the days that followed I began to forget this painful impression once and for all, because I had decided never to return to Rivebelle, and had made Albertine promise, who had assured me that this was the first time she had been there, that she would never go back.
He persuades himself that he could break with her, but then he overhears her making an appointment with her aunt or a girlfriend, and "my calm was destroyed." His mother grows concerned with the amount of money he's spending, particularly on hiring the car and chauffeur, and suggests that he's seeing too much of Albertine.