“Now, I’ve tried to interest them in the joys of literature, but those cows, they’d rather watch the television.” He tapped his empty glass. “And I’m here for the quiet, what with your furnace roaring like thunder day and night. Why aren’t you home, playing with your glass?”

“Da.” When Murphy walked to the bar, Maggie took her father’s hand again. “I needed to tell you first. You know I took some pieces to McGuinness’s shop in Ennis this morning?”

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“Did you now?” He took out his pipe, tapped it. “You should have told me you were going. I’d have kept you company on the way.”

“I wanted to do it alone.”

“My little hermit,” he said, and flicked a finger down her nose.

“Da, he bought them.” Her eyes, as green as her father’s, sparkled. “He bought four of them, and that’s all I took in. Paid me for them then and there.”

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“You don’t say, Maggie, you don’t say!” He leaped up, dragging her with him, and spun her around the room. “Listen to this, ladies and gentlemen. My daughter, my own Margaret Mary, has sold her glass in Ennis.”

There was quick, spontaneous applause and a barrage of questions.

“At McGuinness’s,” she said, firing answers back. “Four pieces, and he’ll look at more. Two vases, a bowl, and a…I supposed you could call the last a paperweight.” She laughed when Tim set whiskeys on the counter for her and her father.

“All right then.” She lifted her glass and toasted. “To Tom Concannon, who believed in me.”

“Oh, no, Maggie.” Her father shook his head and there were tears in his eyes. “To you. All to you.” He clicked glasses and sent the whiskey streaming down his throat. “Fire up that squeeze box, Murphy. I want to dance with my daughter.”

Murphy obliged with a jig. With the sounds of shouts and clapping hands, Tom led his daughter around the floor. Deirdre came out from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. Her face was flushed from cooking as she pulled her husband into the dance. From jig to reel and reel to hornpipe, Maggie whirled from partner to partner until her legs ached.

As others came into the pub, drawn either by the music or the prospect of company, the news was spread. By nightfall, she knew, everyone within twenty kilometers would have heard of it.

It was the kind of fame she had hoped for. It was her secret that she wished for more.

“Oh, enough.” She sank into her chair and drained her cold tea. “My heart’s about to burst.”

“So is mine. With pride for you.” Tom’s smile remained bright, but his eyes dimmed a little. “We should go tell your mother, Maggie. And your sister, too.”

“I’ll tell Brianna this evening.” Her own mood shifted at the mention of her mother.

“All right, then.” He reached down, brushed his hand over her cheek. “It’s your day, Maggie Mae, nothing will spoil it for you.”

“No, ’tis our day. For I never would have blown the first bubble of glass without you.”

“Then we’ll share it, just us two for a little while.” He felt smothered for a minute, dizzy and hot. He thought he felt a little click behind his eyes before it cleared. Air, he thought. He needed a bit of air. “I’m in the mood for a drive. I want to smell the sea, Maggie. Will you come with me?”

“Of course I will.” She rose immediately. “But it’s freezing out, and the wind’s the devil. Are you sure you want to go to the cliffs today?”

“I’ve a need to.” He reached for his coat, then tossing a muffler around his throat, turned to the pub. All the dark, smoky colors seemed to whirl in his eyes. He thought, ruefully, that he was a little drunk. Then again, it was the day for it. “We’re having us a party. Tomorrow night it’ll be. With fine food, fine drink and fine music, to celebrate my daughter’s success. I’ll expect every one of me friends there.”

Maggie waited until they were out in the cold. “A party? Da, you know she’ll not have it.”

“I’m still the master of my own house.” His chin, very like his daughter’s, jutted out. “A party there will be, Maggie. I’ll deal with your mother. Would you drive now?”

“All right.” There was no arguing, she knew, once Tom Concannon had made up his mind. She was grateful for that, or she would never have been able to travel to Venice and apprentice herself in a glass house. Never have been able to take what she’d learned, and what she’d dreamed, and build her own studio. She knew her mother had made Tom pay miserably for the money it had cost. But he had stood firm.

“Tell me what you’re working on now.”

“Well, it’s a kind of a bottle. And I want it to be very tall, very slim. Tapered you see, from bottom to top, then it should flare out. A bit like a lily. And the color should be very delicate, like the inside of a peach.”

She could see it, clear as the hand she used to describe it.

“It’s lovely things you see in your head.”

“It’s easy to see them there.” She shot him a smile. “The hard work is making them real.”

“You’ll make them real.” He patted her hand and fell into silence.

Maggie took the twisting, narrow road toward the sea. Away toward the west, the clouds were flying in, their sails whipped by the wind and darkened with storm. Clearer patches were swallowed up, then fought their way free to glow gem bright amid the pewter.

She saw a bowl, wide and deep, swirled with those warring colors, and began to fashion it in her head.

The road twisted, then straightened, as she threaded the rattling lorry through hedgerows yellowed with winter and taller than a man. A roadside shrine to Mary stood at the outskirts of a village. The Virgin’s face was serene in the cold, her arms spread in generous welcome, foolishly bright plastic flowers at her feet.

A sigh from her father had Maggie glancing over. He seemed a bit pale to her, a little drawn around the eyes. “You look tired, Da. Are you sure you don’t want me to take you back home?”

“No, no.” He took out his pipe, tapped it absently against his palm. “I want to watch the sea. There’s a storm brewing, Maggie Mae. We’ll have a show from the cliffs at Loop Head.”

“We will at that.”

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