Presently she passed a group of women standing talking at a corner of the street, and windows were open with nightcapped heads framed in them.
She stopped a moment to catch the words; they were talking about a ghost which was said to have just passed down the street, and discussing whether it was a real ghost or a trick to frighten people.
Julia uttered a low cry and redoubled her speed, and was soon at Mr. Richard Hardie's door; but the street was deserted, and she was bewildered, and began to think she had been too hasty in her conjecture. A chill came over her impetuosity. The dark, drizzly, silent night, the tall masts, the smell of the river--how strange it all seemed: and she to be there alone at such an hour!
Presently she heard voices somewhere near. She crossed over to a passage that seemed to lead towards them; and then she heard the voices plainly, and among them one that did not mingle with the others, for it was the voice she loved. She started back and stood irresolute. Would he be displeased with her?
Feet came trampling slowly along the passage.
She drew back and looked round for Sarah.
While she stood fluttering, the footsteps came close, and there emerged from the passage into the full light of the gas-lamp Alfred and two policemen carrying a silent senseless figure in a night-gown, with a great-coat thrown over part of him.
It was her father, mute and ghastly.