On this he began to hope Alfred's might be a mere suspicion he could not establish by any proof; and at all events, he would lock it in his own breast like a good son: his never having given a hint even to his sister favoured this supposition.
Thus meditating, Mr. Hardie found himself at the gate of Albion Villa.
Yet he had strolled out with no particular intention of going there. Had his mind, apprehensive of danger from that quarter, driven his body thither?
He took a look at the house, and the first thing he saw was a young lady leaning over the balcony, and murmuring softly to a male figure below, whose outline Mr. Hardie could hardly discern, for it stood in the shadow. Mr. Hardie was delighted.
"Aha, Miss Juliet," said he, "if Alfred does not visit you, some one else does. You have soon supplied your peevish lover's place." He then withdrew softly from the gate, not to disturb the intrigue, and watched a few yards off; determined to see who Julia's nightly visitor was, and give Alfred surprise for surprise.
He had not long to wait: the man came away directly, and walked, head erect, past Mr. Hardie, and glanced full in his face, but did not vouchsafe him a word. It was Alfred himself.
Mr. Hardie was profoundly alarmed and indignant. "The young traitor! Never enter the house? no; but he comes and tells her everything directly under her window on the sly; and, when he is caught--defies me to my face." And now he suspected female cunning and malice in the way that thunderbolt had been quietly prepared for him and launched, without warning, in his very daughter's presence, and the result just communicated to Julia Dodd.
In a very gloomy mood he followed his son, and heard his firm though elastic tread on the frosty ground, and saw how loftily he carried his head; and from that moment feared, and very, very nearly hated him.