The young woman offering me water in an enamel mug was wearing a headscarf the colour of marigolds. I accepted gratefully and gulped it down quickly while she nodded her head, smiling, revealing even, white teeth. I thanked her both in English and French but she spoke in a language I couldn't understand. She turned and went swiftly through the doorway into the dark interior and re-emerged with some wet muslin with which she dabbed my cheeks and forehead. As she did so, I noticed the sleeves of her brightly coloured top were soaking wet and wondered if she had piped water or whether she had used some of her precious supply to attend to my needs. Three young children wearing coloured beads round their necks and little else peeked out at me but disappeared when I said hello. I tried to think if I had something in my bag I could offer in return for the hospitality she had shown me. A crumpled notebook and a few pencils were all I could offer and they would be little recompense for quenching my thirst. As I rummaged about my hand found a small oblong shape. Perhaps the children would find a harmonica amusing. I drew it out, put it to my lips and played one of the few tunes I could manage. Three little faces appeared once more, hands covering their mouths as they tried to stifle their giggles. Not for the first time, I thought children are children the world over.
Linda Casper hails from Yorkshire and, after a long career as a high school teacher, she has recently begun to write and has had many short stories, poems and travel articles published. Linda has a keen interest in gardening and is a judge for Yorkshire in Bloom.