Margaret Ledoux scraped the thick, yellow hollandaise sauce off her asparagus and tried to sneak a quick glance at her father through the barrier of red carnations that centered the restaurant table. Something was going to happen that she wouldn’t like. Her father was fumbling with his fork and breaking his roll into little crumbs on his bread and butter plate and laughing too loudly with everyone who stopped at their table to say hello or congratulate him on the reviews of his new film. She was sure that he was planning to have another serious talk with her. She wondered what she had done now.
She felt uncomfortable as he watched her, his bald head gleaming in the candlelight, his glasses slipping on his nose. He pushed the glasses back in place with one finger and said, “You’re twelve years old, Margaret. You’re too big to be playing with your food.”
“I’m not playing with it. I hate hollandaise sauce.”
“How can you see what it is? Can’t you wear a ribbon or a barrette or whatever it is girls wear to keep their hair out of their eyes?”
“I don’t like asparagus, either.”
“Her father sighed. “We’ve started off on the wrong foot again, haven’t we?”
Margaret put down her fork and made an attempt to brush her straight brown hair away from her face. “I don’t know what you want, Daddy. I’ve been home from boarding school almost a week with only Mr. and Mrs. Ellison at the house, and I haven’t even seen you , and—I just mean that you suddenly come home and say I should dress up because we’re going out to dinner. Then you act all nervous and funny, like you do each time you tell me the school doesn’t want me back; only this semester I didn’t do anything to make anyone mad. I just have the school. I hate everyone there. But that’s no crime.”