Crisp in their navy blue dress uniforms, the Marine marching band had Janet mouthing the words to “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Ponytail swinging, she dotted and dabbed her paintbrush at the little boy’s face in time to the music. Soon she was singing the words. Most of the people milling about the grounds sang too.
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam…
All around Deerfield House, America flaunted her stars and stripes. Flapping flags and matching bunting adorned the mansion, the thick green lawns, and the grandstands set up for the baseball game. Even the paper plates and napkins in the big white food tent were red, white, and blue.
The U.S. Embassy had invited more than three thousand people to the Independence Day celebration. At breakfast that morning, Janet’s grandfather had told her most of them were coming. She wouldn’t have believed so many people could fit in the place, but here they were, and with room to spare.
All-American aromas of barbecued hamburgers, hot dogs, and ribs drew Janet to the open-sided dining tent. Gramp had added a special touch by having Boston-brewed beer, clam chowder, Boston Cream Pie, and the fixings for ice cream sundaes and lobster rolls flown in from the States. Where was Gramp, anyway? She’d never find him in this crowd.
She spun toward the sound of her grandfather’s mellow voice shouting his special nickname for her. As she’d suspected, he stood near the podium, dressed in a red golf shirt, white pants, and a dark blue Boston Red Sox cap with a big red B on the front. Because the baseball cap pretty much covered his thick white hair, he looked younger than a man in his seventies.
Someone was speaking to him, so she wouldn’t stay long, but she hurried over to say hello. “Hey, Gramp. Where’s Gram?”
The sparkle in his blueberry eyes matched the glee in his toothy grin. “Acting as a tour guide for a troop of ladies who wanted to see the gardens. Look who stopped by, Ladybug!”
Janet thought nothing of the man’s red hair—this was Ireland, after all—but she laughed when he spun to face her. “Griff! What brings you to Phoenix Park?”
No better man could have run the Music and Performing Arts School at Hazelwood College, the Irish secondary school Janet attended, than Sorley Griffin. Eccentric and creative, Griff, as he insisted everyone call him, both demanded and nurtured the best from his students.
His baby carrot eyebrows waggled. The blue eyes beneath them blazed with a manic gleam that made Griff, well, Griff. “I was attending a meeting in the area and thought I’d stop by and say hello to Uncle Sam. See how my students are doing painting the faces of Ireland’s next generation. How are ye keepin’, Janet?”
“I’m well, thanks. Getting ready to audition for the summer session at the acting school.”
“You’re doing the performance workshop, yes?”
“If they accept me. Thanks for the recommendation. It’s a tough class to get into.”
“Ah, you could easily teach it yourself. You’re well otherwise? Staying out of trouble?”
He’d made his questions sound like jokes, but a tinge of worry tempered them. Why would Griff be worried about her?
As she studied his bright blue eyes for a clue, she wondered yet again if his ancestors might have included a fairy or two. She’d heard that fairy blood ran in the veins of more than one Irish family. If she hadn’t met the sídhe herself, she would have scoffed at the idea. Yet she knew they were real, and more than once, she’d suspected that Griff knew she knew.