_____Charlus's relationship with Morel takes an even odder turn one evening when, as they are returning from an evening at the Verdurins', Morel takes his leave from the Baron, the narrator, and Albertine. Charlus, who has expected to spend the rest of the evening with Morel, is so distraught that the narrator proposes to stay with the Baron, sending Albertine away. He goes with Charlus to a café, where the Baron demands paper and ink and writes an eight-page letter to Morel which he gives to the narrator to deliver and to say "that you thought you caught something about sending seconds -- I am fighting tomorrow indeed."
Morel is in high spirits when the narrator arrives with the letter, which he initially refuses to read: "No, a hundred times over; you don't know that old crook's lies, his infernal stratagems. It's a device to get me to go and see him. Well, I'm not going; I want a peaceful evening." When the narrator says he thought it was something about a duel, Morel replies, "I don't give a damn, that disgusting old man can happily go and get himself massacred if he wants." But he changes his mind and decides to read the letter, whereupon he rushes to see Charlus.
Being in a mood that evening not to be able to do without Morel, he had invented that it had been reported to him that two of the regimental officers had slandered him in connection with the violinist, and that he was going to send his seconds to them. Morel had glimpsed the scandal, his life in the regiment made impossible, and had come running.Charlus is, of course, "delirious with joy" at Morel's arrival. He has even persuaded himself that he wanted to fight and that he "felt regret at giving up this duel, originally contrived only to get Morel to come." And there is a hilarious, almost Falstaffian moment in which Charlus starts to mime sword-fighting maneuvers, "leading us to move our beer glasses closer for safety, and to fear that the first clash of blades might wound the adversaries, the doctor, and the seconds." He has already sent for Cottard to act as a second and tries to persuade the narrator to summon Elstir to paint the scene.
But if M. de Charlus was enchanted by the prospect of a fight that he had at first thought purely fictitious, Morel was reflecting in terror on the rumors that, thanks to the stir that the duel would make, might be hawked all the way from the regimental band to the temple on the rue Bergère.Cottard arrives in a state of high excitement that swiftly turns to disappointment and then discomfort when Charlus displays affection toward him for his support, holding Cottard's hand and stroking it. He feels a moment of homophobic panic, imagining "that this stroking of his hand was the immediate prelude to a rape, for the accomplishment of which, the duel having served merely as a pretext, he had been drawn into an ambush and led by the Baron into this lonely hall, where he was about to be taken by force." Fortunately, Mme. Cottard is also there, and the scene -- one of the funniest in the novel -- ends with Charlus triumphant and Morel re-ensnared.