The next morning, the Count is unsettled by the fact that Sofia is so quiet for such a young child. She looks at him expectantly about the day ahead, but he is daunted by the task of taking care of her and entertaining her. He doesn’t know how to begin to converse with her, so he asks what her dolly’s name is. She had not named her dolly, and so she decides that she will call her “Dolly.” The Count then tries to tell her a story about a princess, but Sofia says that the age of the nobility has given way to the common man.
The Count must quickly adjust to taking care of a young girl; unlike with Nina, he is solely responsible for her daily wellbeing. Thus, Sofia becomes even more like a daughter to him than Nina was. Also, while the Count related to Nina through princesses, he must find another tactic with Sofia, because she has grown up in a time that has completely dispensed with any romance surrounding the nobility.
The Count gives Sofia a book with pictures to entertain her while he shaves and reflects on what to do. He realizes that Sofia is going to disrupt not only his living space, but his entire way of life. He laughs at himself, thinking that his younger self would never have been stuck in his ways or inconvenienced by another person. Sofia interrupts his shaving to deliver a letter that had slipped under his door with the query “Three o’clock?” He stuffs the letter into his jacket.
For all the adjustments that the Count has had to make in his life, the most drastic come in making space and time for this young girl—but he also explains later that he finds these “inconveniences” to be the most rewarding. Like a true new parent, other plans become unimportant in comparison with taking care of Sofia.
When the clock strikes noon, the Count suggests that he and Sofia get lunch, but Sofia is staring at the clock with interest. She tells the Count she thinks his clock his broken, because it only chimed at noon, and not nine, ten, or eleven. The Count explains that his father made the clock to only chime twice a day, which he will explain over lunch.
Though it has been ingrained in her not to like princesses, Sofia can’t help but be interested in an era of history that she never knew. This demonstrates that even though the Bolsheviks have taken great pains to eradicate the vestiges of the Count’s way of life, they cannot take away his personal experiences.
The Count and Sofia go to the Piazza, where she is amazed by the size of the room and its elegance. The Count begins to tell her about the clock: his father believed that a person should not be too tied up in keeping time. One only needed two tolls to delineate the needs of the day. When the noon bell sounded, one could take pride in having worked diligently in the morning and sit down for lunch with ease. The afternoon could then be spent in endeavors that have no set hour. The second chime is a judgment, because the Count’s father believed that one should never be awake at midnight. Inherent in the second chime is the question, “What are you up to?”
The Count’s explanation of the clock also shows how much the he has changed. While in the first few chapters he followed the advice of his father (sitting down to pursue some work only until noon, like reading Montaigne), this kind of leisurely schedule had actually become oppressive to him. Now, with his work at the Boyarsky, he almost never works before noon and he is almost always up at midnight, and must keep a strict schedule throughout the day—but this is a lifestyle that suits him better.
The waiter serves the Count and Sofia their lunch, but he lingers and asks if he should cut Sofia’s meat for her. The Count realizes that she is staring at her plate, and cuts the veal for her. She then asks questions about the clock, and about the Count’s life at Idlehour. At the end of the meal, the Count asks if Sofia wants dessert. She shakes her head, and the waiter tells him that he thinks Sofia needs to use the restroom, as he notices she is shifting in her chair.
Again, even though the Count was friends with Nina as a young girl, he had known her when she was nine (not five, as Sofia is), and had never been attuned to her most basic needs. Thus, even in the few months that Nina says she will be gone, the Count will learn a lot about the minute details of parenthood.
The Count takes Sofia to the ladies’ room and is relieved when she says she does not need him to accompany her. He chastises himself for his ignorance, noting that he also did not help her unpack and that she is wearing the same clothes as the day before. When Sofia emerges from the bathroom, she asks the Count if they can still have dessert. He tells her of course.
The Count quickly discovers the areas in which he has to learn to anticipate the things that Sofia cannot ask for (just like his need for the tact he possesses as a waiter). But even so, there are still pieces of the job that he picked up with Nina, like knowing to offer Sofia dessert.