Albert and Franz have a pleasant conversation with the Count, in which he offers them more favors for Carnival, including seats at the execution and costumes to wear during the festivities that follow, when tourists and locals crowd the streets. Franz notices the Count paying extra attention to Albert, for a reason he cannot make out, but Albert later chalks this up to his own dress, which, he thinks, is too Parisian for the Count’s tastes.
The reader might deduce that the Count cares about Albert because Albert is a Morcerf, and Caderousse mentioned fleetingly that Fernand de Morcerf has a son of that same name. Although at this point it hasn’t been stated explicitly, then, the Count pays extra attention to Albert because he is the child of his nemesis and his former beloved.
After the Count takes the two men outside for a ride to see Rome and pick up the costumes, it is time for the execution, about which the Count seems excited. He tells the two younger men that he is a bit of a connoisseur of methods of revenge and punishment, and he advocates a style of punishment that is Biblical: an eye for an eye, he says, and a tooth for a tooth. Although the Count does not say explicitly that he has arranged the pardon for Peppino, he is not surprised when, looking on at the execution from a porch outside the Count’s apartment, the pardon is delivered to that man, who is ecstatic at his new freedom, and is led away from the “mazzolata” or mandaia, the Roman equivalent of the guillotine.
This is the first mention of the Count’s study of methods of revenge and torment. To a reader unfamiliar with the book, it might seem surprising that a figure like Dantes, who in the beginning of the novel is an almost cherubic young boy, might later become capable of a love of violence, torment, and destruction. But this is the narrator’s and Dumas’s way of showing just how difficult his many years in prison were – and how powerful his urge to vengeance became during that time. The change Dantes undergoes to become the Count is a change brought on by years of suffering and rage.
The Count asks Franz and Albert to pay attention as the other man, a bandit named Andreas, is to be executed. Andreas cries out that, if Peppino is pardoned, he himself should not be forced to die alone, and the Count notes how much Andreas’s manner changed—from passive acceptance to outright rage—when he realized he was going to die without his comrade. The Count watches, like “an avenging angel,” as the guillotine falls on Andreas’s neck, killing him instantly. Franz falls back into the apartment in a swoon at the events and at the Count’s hardness of manner toward them.
This section introduces the important phrase “avenging angel” to describe the Count. That he wishes for vengeance is by now beyond doubt, and his being described as an “angel” indicates that there is something otherworldly about him. And indeed, for his time in Rome and much of his time in Paris, it is hard to understand that the Count really is the same young man, once named Dantes, whom the reader met early on.