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Leaves from the Journal
Visits to the Old Women 26 Sept. 1857


Saturday, September 26, 1857.

Albert went out with Alfred for the day, and I walked out with the two girls and Lady Churchill, stopped at the shop and made some purchases for poor people and others; drove a little way, got out and walked up the hill to Balnacroft, Mrs. P. Farquharson’s, and she walked round with us to some of the cottages to show me where the poor people lived, and to tell them who I was. Before we went into any we met an old woman, who, Mrs. Farquharson said, was very poor, eighty-eight years old, and mother to the former distiller. I gave her a warm petticoat, and the tears rolled down her old cheeks, and she shook my hands, and prayed God to bless me: it was very touching.

I went into a small cabin of old Kitty Kear’s, who is eighty-six years old, quite erect, and who welcomed us with a great air of dignity. She sat down and spun. I gave her, also, a warm petticoat; she said, “May the Lord ever attend ye and yours, here and hereafter; and may the Lord be a guide to ye, and keep ye from all harm.” She was quite surprised at Vicky’s height; great interest is taken in her. We went on to a cottage (formerly Jean Gordon’s), to visit old widow Symons, who is “past fourscore,” with a nice rosy face, but was bent quite double; she was most friendly, shaking hands with us all, asking which was I, and repeating many kind blessings: “May the Lord attend ye with mirth and with joy; may he ever be with ye in this world, and when ye leave it.” To Vicky, when told she was going to be married, she said, “May the Lord be a guide to ye in your future, and may every happiness attend ye.” She was very talkative; and when I said I hoped to see her again, she expressed an expectation that “she should be called any day,” and so did Kitty Kear.

We went into three other cottages: to Mrs. Symons’s (daughter-in-law to the old widow living next door), who had an “unwell boy;” then across a little burn to another old woman’s; and afterwards peeped into Blair the fiddler’s. We drove back, and got out again to visit old Mrs. Grant (Grant’s mother), who is so tidy and clean, and to whom I gave a dress and handkerchief, and she said, “You’re too kind to me, you’re over kind to me, ye give me more every year, and I get older every year.” After talking some time with her, she said, “1 am happy to see ye looking so nice.” She had tears in her eyes, and speaking of Vicky’s going, said, “I’m very sorry, and 1 think she is sorry hersel’;” and, having said she feared she would not see her (the Princess) again, said: “I am very sorry I said that, but I meant no harm, always say just what I think, not of what is fut” (fit). Dear old lady; she is such a pleasant person.

Really the affection of these good people, who are so hearty and so happy to see you, taking interest in everything, is very touching and gratifying.


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