_____The narrator's daily jaunts with Albertine have one drawback for him: He likes to appreciate things by himself. When she says of a church, "It'd be such a pleasure to see it with you!" he gets spooked. "That was a pleasure I did not feel capable of giving. I felt it in front of beautiful things only if I was alone, or pretended to be so, and was silent." But he gives in, and even orders an automobile -- "such vehicles were something of a rarity in Balbec" -- and a driver for one of their journeys. The narrator is taken aback when "the car leaped forward and in a single bound covered twenty paces of an excellent horse."
They decide to pay an unscheduled visit to the Verdurins, and unfortunately get more attention from Mme. Verdurin, who is attracted by the novelty of touring the neighborhood in a car, than they bargained for. She tries to wheedle her way into accompanying them. "What added to my unhappiness was that Albertine seemed not to share it but to find it fun to drive all around the countryside like this with the Verdurins." Finally, he dissuades Mme. Verdurin from joining them by whispering to her that Albertine had something private that she wanted to discuss with him.
The Patronne assumed a look of fury. "Right, we won't come," she said to me, in a voice quivering with anger. I sensed that she was so angry that, to seem to be giving way a little: "But we might have been able to..." "No," she went on, more furious still, "once I've said no, it's no." I thought I was in her bad books, but she called us back in the doorway to advise us not to "let her down" on Wednesday next, and not to come in that contraption, which was dangerous in the dark, but by the train with all the little group, and she got the car to stop when it was already going down the sloping driveway into the gardens because the new servant had forgotten to put in it the square of tart and the shortbreads she had had packed up for us.The narrator also finds that "the motorcar is no respecter of mystery." By shortening distances and making remote places more accessible, it begins to deprive the landscape of some of its romance, "leading me to reflect in terror that Mme Bovary and La Sanseverina would perhaps have struck me as creatures like any other had I come across them anywhere except in the enclosed atmosphere of a novel."