Sarah Lochrig, with the mildness of her benign voice, when we had mingled a few tears, told me that, after I went to Galloway with Martha Swinton, she had been moved by our neighbours to come with our children into the town, as being safer for a lanerly woman and a family left without its head; and a providential thing it was that she had done so; for on the very night that my brother came off with the men of the parish to join us, as I have noted down in its proper place, a gang of dragoons plundered both his house and mine; and but that our treasures had been timeously removed, his family having also gone that day into Kilmarnock, the outrages might have been unspeakable.
Mr Witherspoon, I ken you weel; meikle sweet counselling I hae gotten frae you when ye preached for our minister at Camrachle in the time of the great covenanting. I was then as a lanerly widow, for my gudeman was at the raid of Dunse-hill, and my heart was often sorrowful and sinking wi' a sinful misdooting of Providence, for I had twa wee bairns and but a toom garnel."
But she put on the mask of a light hypocrisy, and said she would maybe do something if he fee'd her well, making a tryst with him for the day following; purposing in the meanwhile, instead of furthering his wicked ends, to devise, with the counselling of some of her acquaintances, in what manner she could take revenge upon the profligate prodigal for having thought so little of her principle, merely because she was a lanerly widow bent with age and poortith.
Running in this way for life and liberty, he came to a house on the road-side, inhabited by a lanerly woman, and the door being open he darted in, passing through to the yard behind, where he found himself in an enclosed place, out of which he saw no other means of escape but through a ditch full of water.
I count her far safer, Ringan, frae the rage of the persecutors, where she lies in prison aneath their bolts and bars, than were she free in her own house; for it obligates them to deal wi' her openly and afore mankind, whose goodwill the worst of princes and prelates are from an inward power forced to respek; whereas, were she sitting lanerly and defenceless, wi' naebody near but only your four helpless wee birds, there's no saying what the gleds might do.
But provosts and bailies, not being men of war, should not expose themselves to such adversities. Nor was the fyke of impotent preparation within the walls of the castle better. The Queen had been in a manner lanerly with her ladies when the sough of the coming multitude reached her.
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