for a moment?" I suggest to the man holding the squirming little girl.
He hesitates and then sits her on the trestle table and I hold on to her so that he can help his wife wrestle with the large quilt she and I have been trying to pack into a bag.
The little girl squirms and wriggles and I say appropriate things. She looks at me and smiles but it is a smile she would give anyone.
Her narrow head, odd features and lack of speech are indicative of a child with a severe degree of intellectual retardation.
Nevertheless for a couple of minutes I talk to her and she smiles and I tell her what a clever person her mother is. Her mother is clever too, how she finds time to make quilts when her daughter needs so much care is remarkable. Her mother makes her clothes too, age appropriate but designed to be easy to dress and undress a child who probably has no idea what she is wearing.
We had some lengths of red, white and blue ribbon in one of the display cabinets. They won't be used again so, keeping hold with one hand, I grabbed a red one with my other hand and showed her.
She smiled and grabbed at it. We "agree" that red is a good colour and a nice, shiny red ribbon is just what she needs.
Her parents have the quilt in the bag and her father turns back to us. He wants to give the ribbon back but I tell him she can keep it but cut it into a shorter length so she can't harm herself.
He looks at me, hesitates again, and then says "Thankyou."
I congratulate his wife again on her work. She looks at me and then says, "Thankyou."
They look at one another and then her husband says, "And thankyou for talking to Evie."
Most people will never talk to Evie but it was a red ribbon conversation.