Albert goes to the Count’s home, but the Count is bathing and then napping before the opera. Albert quickly goes home to see his mother, who is devastated by Fernand’s social reversals. Albert tells Mercedes he has realized that the Count never eats in the home of his sworn enemies, thus explaining why he took no food at the Morcerfs’ July party, despite Mercedes’ urging. At this, Albert tells his mother he is off to meet the Count at the opera to challenge him to a duel.
Finally, Albert has put together the fact that the Count is not exactly his friend. Instead, the Count believes that he has a blood-feud with the Morcerf family, and Albert recognizes that what he thought was a friendship was, in fact, a sham. This raises an interesting moral question: is it fair or “just” for the Count to have misled Albert in order to exact revenge on Albert’s father?
At the opera, Albert and Beauchamp find the Count in his box. Albert challenges him to a duel, says that Beauchamp will be his second, and declares that they will meet the next morning before 10 am. The Count, sitting with Maximilien in the box, says that it is all a matter of “perfect indifference” to him, that he will win the duel regardless of the time or instrument. Beauchamp, shocked, conveys this information back to Albert, and Morrel asks the Count in private if he really believes that he is on the right side. The Count says that this is indeed the case, that they will absolutely win, and Morrel agrees to be his second. Morrel says he will also ask Emmanuel to join them the next morning at seven, before meeting Albert in the forest at eight.
The Count, as is characteristic of him, appears to have no concern whatsoever about his ability to win the duel. This faith in his abilities seems to be a more pronounced version of that same skill he demonstrated many years ago as the first mate on the Pharaon, and then again in prison, under the tutelage of the Abbe Faria. Although the Count feels it would not necessarily be a good thing to wound or kill Albert, he, like Albert, knows that a gentleman must participate in a duel if he is called to do so.