Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 6 HTML version

Useless Beauty
About half-past five one afternoon at the end of June when the sun was shining warm and
bright into the large courtyard, a very elegant victoria with two beautiful black horses
drew up in front of the mansion.
The Comtesse de Mascaret came down the steps just as her husband, who was coming
home, appeared in the carriage entrance. He stopped for a few moments to look at his
wife and turned rather pale. The countess was very beautiful, graceful and distinguished
looking, with her long oval face, her complexion like yellow ivory, her large gray eyes
and her black hair; and she got into her carriage without looking at him, without even
seeming to have noticed him, with such a particularly high-bred air, that the furious
jealousy by which he had been devoured for so long again gnawed at his heart. He went
up to her and said: "You are going for a drive?"
She merely replied disdainfully: "You see I am!"
"In the Bois de Boulogne?"
"Most probably."
"May I come with you?"
"The carriage belongs to you."
Without being surprised at the tone in which she answered him, he got in and sat down by
his wife's side and said: "Bois de Boulogne." The footman jumped up beside the
coachman, and the horses as usual pranced and tossed their heads until they were in the
street. Husband and wife sat side by side without speaking. He was thinking how to begin
a conversation, but she maintained such an obstinately hard look that he did not venture
to make the attempt. At last, however, he cunningly, accidentally as it were, touched the
countess' gloved hand with his own, but she drew her arm away with a movement which
was so expressive of disgust that he remained thoughtful, in spite of his usual
authoritative and despotic character, and he said: "Gabrielle!"
"What do you want?"
"I think you are looking adorable."
She did not reply, but remained lying back in the carriage, looking like an irritated queen.
By that time they were driving up the Champs Elysees, toward the Arc de Triomphe.
That immense monument, at the end of the long avenue, raised its colossal arch against