Matthew pointed to the pile of teddies and broken toys.
'We're going to play an adventure together,' he told her, picking up Slayer. 'I'm Slayer the dragon. Who do you want to be?'
Mandy smiled. 'I want to be... Mandy.'
'No! I mean you have to pick a toy to play with!'
Mandy thoughtfully examined the pile, and finally picked up Benjamin Bear.
'OK,' Matthew nodded. 'So now you're Benjamin.' A pause. 'You have to pretend to be Benjamin, OK?'
Matthew grinned broadly, pleased with himself for making the doll understand, and he made Slayer rear up into the air.
'Roar! I'm Slayer and I am a fearsome DRAGON!'
'ROAR! I'm Benjamin and I'm a fearsome DRAGON!'
'No!' Matthew said, exasperated. 'You're not a dragon! You're a bear!'
'I thought we were pretending.'
Matthew tossed Slayer to one side. 'We're not playing anymore.'
Mandy threw down Benjamin as well, and there was a long pause.
'What are those?' Mandy asked, pointing towards the bookshelf - or at least, trying to point, for she had no fingers.
'Those are books. Wanna read me one?'
'OK. Can I read?'
'Yes, duh. Here's one - it's called Cornflakes.'
Mandy examined the title. 'Cooooornflaaaaaakes,' she said, smiling. 'OK, I can read this. Shall I start?'
Matthew thought. 'Yes. No, wait, I can't see the pictures. Let me see.'
He climbed onto the bed and made Mandy sit beside him, and the rag doll started to read.
'Oooone daaaaay...' she read, 'myyyyy brrroooootheeer aaaaand I weeeeere...'
Matthew sighed and clapped a hand to his forehead. 'You're rubbish at reading. You can practice while I have my breakfast.'
He got off the bed, and Mandy smiled at him curiously.
'What's breakfast?' she asked, her head on one side.
'It's food that you have in the morning. But dolls don't eat it.'
'OK. Are there any other dolls around here?'
'No. OK, you, er, practice reading and I'll have my breakfast. See you later, alligator,' Matthew said, leaving the room.
'In a while, crocodile,' the doll said automatically as he shut the door.