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'In that one respect I was perhaps a little hasty. I happened to be stirring my tea at the moment his head rose above the edge of the table. I was not entirely myself that morning. My nerves were somewhat disordered. I had lain awake much of the night planning a canvas.'

'Planning a what?'

'A canvas--a picture.'

Lady Wetherby turned to Claire.

'I want you to listen to Algie, Claire. A year ago he did not know one end of a paint-brush from the other. He didn't know he had any nerves. If you had brought him the artistic temperament on a plate with a bit of watercress round it, he wouldn't have recognized it. And now, just because he's got a studio, he thinks he has a right to go up in the air if you speak to him suddenly and run about the place hitting snakes with teaspoons as if he were Michelangelo!'

'You do me an injustice. It is true that as an artist I developed late--But why should we quarrel? If it will help to pave the way to a renewed understanding between us, I am prepared to apologize for striking Clarence. That is conciliatory, I think, Miss Fenwick?'

'Miss Fenwick considers my attitude conciliatory.'

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'It's something,' admitted Lady Wetherby, grudgingly.

Lord Wetherby drained the whisky-and-soda which Dudley Pickering had left behind him, and seemed to draw strength from it, for he now struck a firmer note.

'But, though expressing regret for my momentary loss of self-control, I cannot recede from the position I have taken up as regards the essential unfitness of Clarence's presence in the home.'

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Lady Wetherby looked despairingly at Claire.

'The very first words I heard Algie speak, Claire, were at Newmarket during the three o'clock race one May afternoon. He was hanging over the rail, yelling like an Indian, and what he was yelling was, "Come on, you blighter, come on! By the living jingo, Brickbat wins in a walk!" And now he's talking about receding from essential positions! Oh, well, he wasn't an artist then!'