Eleanor looked up, surprised. The little girl was sliding back in her chair, sullenly refusing her milk, while her father frowned and her brother giggled and her mother said calmly, ‘She wants her cup of stars.’
Indeed yes, Eleanor thought. Indeed, so do I. A cup of stars, of course!
‘Her little cup,’ the mother was explaining, smiling apologetically at the waitress, who was thunderstruck at the thought that the mill’s good country milk was not rich enough for the little girl. ‘It has stars in the bottom, and she always drinks her milk from it at home. She calls it her cup of stars because she can see the stars while she drinks her milk.’ The waitress nodded, unconvinced, and the mother told the little girl, ‘You’ll have your milk from your cup of stars tonight when we get home. But just for now, just to be a very good little girl, will you take a little milk from this glass?’
Don’t do it, Eleanor told the little girl. Insist on your cup of stars. Once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again. Don’t do it.
And the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.