There was, of course, his nurse, and a great deal of his time was spent in her company; but she had strangely little connection with his main problem of the relation of this, his present world, to that, his preceding one. She was there to answer questions, to issue commands, to forbid. She had the key to various cupboards—to the cupboard with pretty cups and jam and sugar, to the cupboard with ugly things that tasted horrible, things that he resisted by instinct long before they arrived under his nose. She also had certain sounds, of which she made invariable use on all occasions. One was, “Now, Master Ernest!” Another: “Mind-what-you’re-about-now!” And, at his “Wash dat!” always “Oh-bother-the-boy!” She was large and square to look upon, very often pins were in her mouth, and the slippers that she wore within doors often clipclapped upon the carpet. But she was not a person; she had nothing to do with his progress.
The person who had to do with it was, of course, his father. That night when his friend had left him had been, indeed, a crisis, because it was on that night that his father had come to him. It was not that he had not been aware of his father before, but he had been aware of him only as he had been aware of light and heat and food. Now it had become a definite wonder as to whether this new friend had been sent to take the place of the old one. Certainly the new friend had very little to do with all that old life of which the fountain was the door. He belonged, most definitely, to the new one, and everything about him—the delightfully mysterious tick of his gold watch, the solid, firm grasp of his hand, the sure security of his shoulder upon which Ernest Henry now gloriously rode—these things were of this world and none other.
It was a different relationship, this, from any other that Ernest Henry had ever known, but there was no doubt at all about its pleasant flavour. Just as in other days he had watched for his friend’s appearance, so now he waited for that evening hour that always brought his father. The door would open, the square, set figure would appear.... Very pleasant, indeed. Meanwhile Ernest Henry was instructed that the right thing to say on his father’s appearance was “Dada.”
But he knew better. His father’s name was really “Damn.”