After this first lesson, things return to normal—the only difference is that Cosimo stays in the trees. He’s solitary but seems to care only for the people. He befriends and earns the respect of the peasants by engaging them in conversations about their work, performing little jobs for them, and scaring birds away from grain fields. Cosimo is very impressed with the itinerant poor people, mostly charcoal burners, who camp in the forest. They’re afraid of him at first, but they eventually let him listen to their stories at night.
Cosimo’s interest in people suggests that his previous childhood selfishness was mostly a reaction to Baron Arminio’s unreasonable expectations, not a defining characteristic of Cosimo himself. Rather, when allowed to run free, Cosimo sets out to discover the humanity and goodness in all people—especially those who Baron Arminio might suggest are less worthy.
Baron Arminio does everything he can to keep Cosimo’s rebellion a secret, even though this is a futile task. The Count d’Estomac decides to visit on his family’s way to France. Baron Arminio introduces Biagio and then explains that Battista won’t show since she’s a nun, but Battista appears in her nun’s cap, covered in ribbons and flounces. The young Count d’Estomac bows to her and Battista laughs hysterically. Count d’Estomac asks about Cosimo, and Baron Arminio answers that Cosimo is hunting. This is true, but Biagio interrupts to say that he brings Cosimo’s kills to him in the trees. Baron Arminio is incensed and sends Biagio away, but Cosimo appears.
This entire visit shows that much as Baron Arminio might try to control his family members and his situation, it’s impossible for him to do so. Biagio will speak out of turn, Battista will attract attention and make a scene, and Cosimo is guaranteed to shock people by staying in the trees. All three children, in this regard, represent the future, while Baron Arminio’s attempts to control them look like an attempt to stop progress in its tracks.
Count d’Estomac is amused and Baron Arminio’s deflections don’t work. Cosimo bows to the count, who laughs and declares that Cosimo is clever to live in the trees. Cosimo cleans his rifle, which delights the count. Baron Arminio looks ready to die when the count declares that he’s going to tell royal family members about Cosimo when he gets to court. He also realizes he can’t see Battista and the young Count d’Estomac. Cosimo returns from an exploratory mission and declares that Battista made the young count hiccup. Count d’Estomac sends Cosimo back to check, and Cosimo returns with the news that Battista is trying to put a lizard down the young count’s shirt. The evening passes like any other, except Cosimo is in the trees and Battista gets engaged to the young Count d’Estomac.
For Baron Arminio, Count d’Estomac’s announcement that he’s going to talk about Cosimo in great European courts signals that he’s never going to recover from the shame of having a son who lives in the trees. Count d’Estomac’s belief that this story will go over well, meanwhile, suggests that adults who aren’t Baron Arminio may be ready to at least entertain the possibility of change in the near future, at least as a fun diversion from the way things are at this point in time.