The bell of Limehouse Church rang as each of them, in this house, drifted into sleep - suddenly once more like children who, exhausted by the day's adventures, fall asleep quickly and carelessly. A solitary visitor, watching them as they slept, might wonder how it was that they had arrived at such a state and might speculate about each stage of their journey towards it: when did he first start muttering to himself, and not realise that he was doing so? When did she first begin to shy away from others and seek the shadows? When did all of them come to understand that whatever hopes they might have had were foolish, and that life was something only to be endured? Those who wander are always objects of suspicion and sometimes even of fear: the four people gathered in this house by the church had passed into a place, one might almost say a time, from which there was no return. The young man who had been bent over the fire had spent his life in a number of institutions - an orphanage, a juvenile home and most recently a prison; the old woman still clutching the brown bottle was an alcoholic who had abandoned her husband and two children many years before; the old man had taken to wandering after the death of his wife in a fire which he believed, at the time, he might have prevented. And what of Ned, who was now muttering in his sleep?
There were some places, and streets, where he did not venture since he had learnt that others had claims there greater than his own - not the gangs of meths drinkers who lived in no place and no time, nor the growing number of the young who moved on restlessly across the face of the city, but vagrants like himself who, despite the name which the world has given them, had ceased to wander and now associated themselves with one territory or 'province' rather than another. All of them led solitary lives, hardly moving from their own warren of streets and buildings: it is not known whether they chose the area, or whether the area itself had callen them and taken them in, but they had become the guardian spirits (as it were) of each place. Ned now knew some of their names: Watercress Joe, who haunted the streets by St Mary Woolnoth, Black Sam who lived and slept beside the Commercial Road between Whitechapel and Limehouse, Harry the Goblin who was seen only by Spitalfields and Artillery Lane, Mad Frank who walked continually through the streets of Bloomsbury, Italian Audrey who was always to be found in the dockside area of Wapping (it was she who had visited Ned in his shelter many years before), and 'Alligator' who never moved from Greenwich.