It is said a Madonna LiIy keeps ghosts from the door and will only grow for a good woman. My names is Abigail. I grow this flower in my garden but it can never keep me from being haunted.
I have two suitors, Peter and John, after the death of my first husband William.
To Peter, I said
You’re gentle with me. William. My last husband followed his affection by grabbing me between the legs. I will consider your proposal.
I see through my windows the Winter sun gleam off the lilies in the garden as Peter leaves my house. The garden is well ordered, unlike my mind.
William was a prosperous yeoman farmer. He fell from his horse, and died.
Brothers Peter and John Pilmey are third generation Huguenot immigrant glassmakers.
I tend the Madonna lilies in my garden in memory of William. His farm is prospering. I can afford table cloths and knives, But I have no heir. I look about and see the brothers recently removed to Silkstone from Lancashire.
I hear from Jonas, the packman, that Yorkshire and, Lancashire suffer devastation due to the Civil War and that there will be need for glass to repair the damage,
Glassmaking is kept secret and passes down only through marriage into gIassmaking families. If you know the secret you know you belong. Well, I thought, there will be a future in this enterprise.
I confide in Jonas when I deliver my letters to him at ‘The Packhorse Inn’:
Peter has bound himself to revealing the secret of glassmaking to me if I become his wife.
Does he think so highly of his family that he would give the secret away so easily.
Jonas clears his pint of brown ale and shouts for another.
He is not the strongest man I have known. I could achieve my aim easier with him.
What of John?
He wishes to meet with me tomorrow. He decided upon the place and time.
By his reputation with the Quarter Sessions he is often bound to keep the peace. Closer to William in his manner,
He has a certain strength.
On the following day I meet John, at his designated spot. I have to rearrange the making of the house Cheese to accommodate him. I reach the meeting place on foot.
It is on the top of a hill where the Iocals dig for coal. The earth is black as a funeral shroud. Before he arrives I observe Silkstone in Its pleasant wooded Valley. I see the glassworks by the water mill in the shadow of the medieval church. The growing number of industries in the hamlet include a nailmakers forge and the oldwater mill crushes bones for livestock. The place has a future. The wind across the moor tops is strong as John rides up on his mare and speaks to me
Be it known lass I’ll not give you the secret till I know you can be trusted.
How do I know you can be trusted to tell me?
Don’t speak to me of trust. I know you confide in Jonas, the packman, in an inn where no decent woman would be found dead.
I leave knowing John will be the harder work, but that at least I know my place and can fight for a better, With Peter his sympathy for my situation can be difficult when it comes to business. Every time we meet I will have to deal with the emotions. I am not used to this. I know I will be the stronger. At home I know the white of the Madonna lily the garden will be a perpetual reminder of my decision.
I marry John who in turn tumbles from his horse and dies. I inherit the business and give it to my son by him also called John. But now there is no Civil War and canals and good roads do not reach Silkstone
so the glassmaking died, Peter remains unmarried.
I have the secret to glassmaking but there are more improved ways to make it of which I cannot afford. Madonna lilies glow white in the garden.