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W. Somerset Maugham: Of Human Bondage
40. CHAPTER XL (continued)
"I wish you would leave me out of your conversation, Mr. Clutton," said Miss Price brusquely.
"The only way to learn to paint," he went on, imperturbable, "is to take a studio, hire a model, and just fight it out for yourself."
"That seems a simple thing to do," said Philip.
"It only needs money," replied Clutton.
He began to paint, and Philip looked at him from the comer of his eye. He was long and desperately thin; his huge bones seemed to protrude from his body; his elbows were so sharp that they appeared to jut out through the arms of his shabby coat. His trousers were frayed at the bottom, and on each of his boots was a clumsy patch. Miss Price got up and went over to Philip's easel.
"If Mr. Clutton will hold his tongue for a moment, I'll just help you a little," she said.
"Miss Price dislikes me because I have humour," said Clutton, looking meditatively at his canvas, "but she detests me because I have genius."
He spoke with solemnity, and his colossal, misshapen nose made what he said very quaint. Philip was obliged to laugh, but Miss Price grew darkly red with anger.
"You're the only person who has ever accused you of genius."
"Also I am the only person whose opinion is of the least value to me."
Miss Price began to criticise what Philip had done. She talked glibly of anatomy and construction, planes and lines, and of much else which Philip did not understand. She had been at the studio a long time and knew the main points which the masters insisted upon, but though she could show what was wrong with Philip's work she could not tell him how to put it right.
"It's awfully kind of you to take so much trouble with me," said Philip.
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