AT a preaching at Tarbolton, Burns happened to be a hearer. Two young ladies of good position, and at that time slightly acquainted with the poet, were seated on the opposite side of the congregation in the open air. A heavy shower passed over the audience, when there was no available shed perhaps ‘to screen the countra gentry.’ Burns, who happened to have an umbrella, rare enough in those days, walked deliberately round to shelter the ladies, who had none: this he did by standing respectfully behind their chair, and holding the umbrella over their heads. When the rain ceased, and the gaping crowd expected to see him take advantage of his situation by remaining in their neighbourhood, he quietly closed the umbrella, and walked deliberately round again to his original position, where he remained a devout and attentive listener till the conclusion of the service.
The ladies in question were two of the Miss Ronalds, of the Bennals – one of them remarkable for her piety, and a subsequent correspondent of Burns himself, on topics connected with religion.