Chapter I: Grieving and Forgetting, from "Saint-Loup could barely have caught the train when..." to "...the long-lost sweetness of having her by my side."
_____Bloch stops by to tell him that he has dined with M. Bontemps and, having seen Albertine and the narrator quarreling, has told Bontemps "that he ought to implore her to address this issue." The narrator is furious, but Bloch seems only amused at his anger. Then Françoise informs the narrator that a policeman is there: The parents of the little girl he took home with him have filed a complaint "for seducing a minor." The narrator reacts to this as yet another of "Wagnerian motifs" in his life. After a confrontation with the furious parents and a grilling by the police, he is let off for lack of evidence. But Françoise informs him that the concierge, when asked if the narrator was "in the habit of inviting young girls home," had told the inspector about Albertine, and that the house was now under surveillance. The experience gives him a guilty conscience:
I thought that "the seduction of minors" could also refer to Albertine. Thus my life seemed walled in on all sides. And at the thought that I had not lived a chaste life with her, I found in the punishment inflicted on my for having cradled an unknown little girl in my arms the balance which always occurs in human punishment, suggesting that there is hardly ever either a just condemnation or a judicial error, but a kind of harmony between the false notion of an innocent act entertained by the judge and the culpable acts which he has ignored.The spring weather soothes him into "a few moments of pleasant calm, imagining Venice and meeting beautiful, unknown women," but this gives way to panic. He recognizes that this mood "would later become a permanent state for me, a life where would no longer suffer because of Albertine, where I would no longer love her." And this in itself, the prospect of forgetting, is enough to torment him.
After four days have elapsed, Saint-Loup telegraphs that Albertine and her aunt "have gone away for three days." In the meantime, he is approached by the Duc de Guermantes about the prospect of marrying one of his nieces, "reputedly the prettiest young lady in Paris," who has set her sights on him. Her parents were "resigned in the interests of their daughter's happiness to such a misalliance and with such an unequal party." But the narrator finds the idea too painful to contemplate.
Another telegram from Saint-Loup informs him that "despite his precautions," Albertine was present when he met with Mme. Bontemps. The narrator is stung by this blow to "the last shred of pride surviving from my love for Gilberte." He telegraphs Saint-Loup to return "to avoid at least the appearance of aggravating through added persistence the intervention which I had so wanted to keep secret." And then Albertine telegraphs to say that if he had written her directly, "I WOULD HAVE BEEN ONLY TOO PLEASED TO RETURN: DO NOT TRY ANY SUCH ABSURD APPROACH AGAIN." As a result, he writes her to say that he won't ask her to return, but mentions that "The yacht was already almost fitted out" and that he would keep it and the Rolls-Royce, even though he will not use them. For him it is a "bogus letter, which I wrote so as to seem detached from her." He thinks that the letter will "make Albertine return as soon as possible," but once he has sent it he begins to regret doing so: "I hoped that she would refuse to return."
He opens a newspaper and learns of the death of La Berma, which inspires him to thoughts of how his renunciation of Albertine resembles Phaedra's parting from Hippolytus.