The Salinas are getting ready for a ball at the houses of one of their aristocratic friends. They even show up early to make sure they're there before the Calogeros, who aren't used to balls and who will probably show up at the exact time listed on the invitation. Apparently, commoners don't understand the concept of being fashionably late.
When Don Calogero arrives, Fabrizio is happy to see that he's looking a little finer than usual. It's probably the Prince rubbing off on him. Meanwhile, the young men at the party all wish that they were marrying Angelica instead of Tancredi. Angelina shows the very best of manners and makes a big splash on the social scene.
On the other side of the ballroom, Prince Fabrizio looks around and feels kind of depressed. He sees a bunch of women who used to be his mistresses, and he's sad to find how old and saggy they've become. It's not like he's a spring chicken anymore, either. He goes to sit with some men, but feels like an outsider among them because he's interested in math and astronomy. He quickly gets bored and goes off to be alone, wishing he were at home looking out at the stars.
He glances in on the ballroom dancing. Calogero sidles up next to him and talks about how much everything in the room must cost. Fabrizio suddenly dislikes the guy for judging everything according to its dollar value. He forces himself to be cheery though and talks about what a beautiful couple Tancredi and Angelica are.
Minutes later, he hears Calogero talking with another man about the price of cheese and basically says "Alright, I'm done" and walks away. He heads to the library to be alone again.
Tancredi walks in with Angelica. Sensing the Prince's depression, Angelica asks him to come dance with her. Fabrizio agrees, and when they dance, the whole room stops and everyone watches them. Fabrizio catches himself feeling a sexual attraction to her.
All Angelica can talk about is how happy she is. This is bittersweet to Fabrizio, who envies her youth and feels old when he's next to her and Tancredi. For just a moment, though, he forgets that he'll ever have to die.
When they're done, Angelica invites him to have dinner at her and Tancredi's table, but he politely refuses and leaves them to their happiness.
He wanders around for a while more, taking in all the sensual pleasures of the rooms. Then he sits down at a table with some other men. A Colonel who fought for The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies talks about how ridiculous it is that he might go to jail for fighting the Italian armies. He was only following orders, and if he'd had it his way, he would have let them into the country with no resistance.
The colonel describes wounding the foreign general (and hero) Garibaldi in the foot. He says the guy is human just like anyone else, and not the immortal god he's cracked up to be. The guy also mentions how unification isn't going so well on the mainland of Italy. Different cities want to be the capital and all of them have different priorities. The Prince needs to stop himself from yawning.
Finally, at six in the morning, the Salinas settle back into their carriage to go home. On their way, Fabrizio gazes up at the stars and wishes that all of life's joys weren't so fleeting. You might be beginning to wonder just what it would take to make this guy happy.