He was, therefore, in spite of his love for outdoor pursuits, a cultured man.
It was natural, perhaps, that he should find Hugh Seymour “a pity.” Nearly everything that he said about Hugh Seymour began with the words——
“It’s a pity that——”
“It’s a pity that you can’t get some red into your cheeks, my boy.”
“It’s a pity you don’t care about porridge. You must learn to like it.”
“It’s a pity you can’t even make a little progress with your mathematics.”
“It’s a pity you told me a lie because——”
“It’s a pity you were rude to Mrs. Lasher. No gentleman——”
“It’s a pity you weren’t attending when——”
Mr. Lasher was, very earnestly, determined to do his best for the boy, and, as he said, “You see, Hugh, if we do our best for you, you must do your best for us. Now I can’t, I’m afraid, call this your best.”
Hugh would have liked to say that it was the best that he could do in that particular direction (very probably Euclid), but if only he might be allowed to try his hand in quite another direction, he might do something very fine indeed. He never, of course, had a chance of saying this, nor would such a declaration have greatly benefited him, because, for Mr. Lasher, there was only one way for every one and the sooner (if you were a small boy) you followed it the better.
“Don’t dream, Hugh,” said Mr. Lasher, “remember that no man ever did good-work by dreaming. The goal is to the strong. Remember that.”
Hugh, did remember it and would have liked very much to be as strong as possible, but whenever he tried feats of strength he failed and looked foolish.
“My dear boy, that’s not the way to do it,” said Mr. Lasher; “it’s a pity that you don’t listen to what I tell you.”
A very remarkable fact about Mr. Lasher was this—that he paid no attention whatever to the county in which he lived. Now there are certain counties in England where it is possible to say, “I am in England,” and to leave it at that; their quality is simply English with no more individual personality. But Glebeshire has such an individuality, whether for good or evil, that it forces comment from the most sluggish and inattentive of human beings. Mr. Lasher was perhaps the only soul, living or dead, who succeeded in living in it during forty years (he is still there, he is a Canon now in Polchester) and never saying anything about it. When on his visits to London people inquired his opinion of Glebeshire, he would say: “Ah well!... I’m afraid Methodism and intemperance are very strong ... all the same, we’re fighting ’em, fighting ’em!”
This was the more remarkable in that Mr. Lasher lived upon the very edge of Roche St. Mary Moor, a stretch of moor and sand. Roche St. Mary Moor, that runs to the sea, contains the ruins of St. Arthe Church (buried until lately in the sand, but recently excavated through the kind generosity of Sir John Porthcullis, of Borhaze, and shown to visitors, 6d. a head, Wednesday and Saturday afternoons free), and in one of the most romantic, mist-laden, moon-silvered, tempest-driven spots in the whole of Great Britain.