The narrator describes Franz and Albert’s trips through the Corso, the main boulevard in Rome, as part of Carnival. They spend their days in costume and in the Count’s carriage—he claims to have to attend to business in another town during the Carnival—and during this interval, Albert begins to flirt with a beautiful woman in another carriage. Franz encourages this flirtation, and Albert arranges to meet with the woman on a side street, alone, on the last night of Carnival.
Albert believes that he should be able to have an affair in Rome, and that, indeed, it is to his discredit that he has not found a lover already. Thus Albert is excited by the seemingly-devoted attentions of the woman in the other carriage, and Franz, hoping to be a good friend, encourages Albert, although he appears to have mild misgivings about just who this woman might be.
Meanwhile, Franz sees Countess G at night in the theaters. Each time they meet, they discuss the Count of Monte Cristo; Countess G assures Franz that the Count has made his money from some mysterious means, and she believes that he is nothing but trouble, as though he were a hero from a Byronic narrative. The narrator describes the final night of Carnival, in which, for a third time, Albert and Franz take their carriage into the Corso. The week ends with the lighting of ceremonial fire-lamps, which burn in the streets and are then extinguished all at one moment. Franz watches this dramatic end to the holiday alone, as Albert has gone off to meet his “mysterious woman” by himself.
During the narrative and more generally in Rome, Carnival is a time that normal rules do not apply. Franz has already experienced one such time, when he was on the island of Monte Cristo with the Count and fell into a drug-induced stupor. Albert takes advantage of this “anything-goes” moment to have his love affair, or what he believes to be a love affair – and Franz takes the safer route, hoping to find likeminded companions at a party held at the house of a duke. This difference, between Franz’s desire for safety and Albert’s sense of adventure, will stay more or less constant throughout the novel.