_____Concerned that Charlus's over-loud proclamations have attracted some attention from thuggish types, they turn into a side-street filled with soldiers on leave and lose themselves in the crowd. Charlus admires the men and their uniforms, causing the narrator to reflect that "his frivolity was so much second nature to him, that ... the war, like the Dreyfus Affair, was merely a vulgar and passing fashion." And the narrator's homophobia has a resurgence when he observes that "for a brief moment he displayed none of the mannerisms by which men of his sort reveal themselves. And yet, why is it that none of them can ever have a voice that sounds absolutely right? Even at this moment, when it was approaching its most serious, his still sounded slightly wrong, as if it needed tuning."
Charlus returns to the topic of Morel and his refusal to reconcile with him unless Morel makes the first move. And here the narrator jumps ahead to tell of an encounter with Morel "two or three years after the evening on which I walked down the boulevards with M. de Charlus," when the narrator urges Morel to make the move toward reconciliation with the aging Charlus and is told, "Good Lord, yes, I know how kind he is! And how considerate, and honest. But leave me alone, don't talk to me about it any more, I beg you. It makes me ashamed to say it, but I am afraid." And then, after Charlus's death, the narrator receives a letter that Charlus had left for him to be opened postmortem, in which he reveals that he is thankful that Morel didn't come to see him because he "had decided to kill him."
Continuing on their walk, Charlus compares wartime Paris to Pompeii, and imagines future archaeologists uncovering the ruins of the city:
This will provide lecture material for the Brichots of the future, for the frivolity of a period, when ten centuries have elapsed, is a subject for the most serious erudition, especially if it has been preserved intact by a volcanic eruption or by the lava-like substances thrown up by bombardment.... While i may think that tomorrow we may meet the fate of the cities of Vesuvius, they in their turn felt threatened by the fate that befell the accursed cities of the Bible. On the walls of one house in Pompeii was discovered the revealing inscription: Sodoma, Gomora.Whereupon Charlus begins to talk about the beauty of the young soldiers they pass upon the street. And when he takes his leave from the narrator, the latter comments "that by going home M. de Charlus would not thereby be leaving the company of soldiers, as he had converted his house into a military hospital, and in doing this, I believe, had yielded far less to the demands of imagination than to those of his kind heart."
After Charlus's departure, the narrator finds himself tired and thirsty, but aerial bombardment has caused the hotels and shops in this district to close. Then he spots among the abandoned houses a place "were life seemed, on the contrary, to have triumphed over fear and bankruptcy and where activity and wealth continued to flourish." He sees an officer "hurriedly leaving it" who reminds him of Saint-Loup, which brings to mind that Saint-Loup "had been unjustly implicated in a case of espionage because his name had been found on some letters captured on a German officer." And he wonders if "this hotel was being used as a meeting-place for spies." He enters to find some soldiers and working-class men chatting in a room, and overhears some initially fairly innocuous conversation followed by "an exchange which made shudder," in which some men who seem to work in the hotel talk about the boss going out to fetch some chains, and one says, "I was beating him all last night till my hands were covered in blood." He concludes, "If they had turned away peaceable citizens, it was not because the hotel was a nest of spies."
Curiosity prevails, and the narrator orders a room and has a glass of cassis sent up to it. Then he goes exploring, hears "stifled moans," a plea for mercy and "the sound of a whip, probably one with nails to give it extra sharpness, for it was followed by cries of pain." There is a side-window to the room that has been left uncurtained, and through it the narrator sees
chained to a bed like Prometheus to his rock, receiving the blows which Maurice was delivering with a whip which was indeed studded with nails, ... already running with blood, and covered in bruises which proved that the flogging was not happening for the first time, there, right in front of me, I saw M. de Charlus.This is not the only revelation: the "boss" of the place is Jupien. And both of the floggers that the narrator glimpses look like Morel, which causes the narrator to speculate that "there had never been anything but a relation of friendship between Morel and [Charlus], and that M. de Charlus persuaded young men who bore some resemblance to Morel to come to Jupien's so that he could have the illusion, with them, of taking his pleasure with Morel himself."