The clerk, a small, rotund man, clerical in aspect, and wearing a round t'elt hat, pulled out a large old-fashioned watch. Time for the bell, William, he said. The parish church was a large building in sham Perpendicular. It stood in a very central position in the Manchester main road, rising amid a bare triangle of ﬂat gravestones, and only separated from the street pavement by high iron railings. It was about half-past four on a dull autumn afternoon. The trams swung ringing down the black, muddy road, and the long procession of great two-wheeled carts, painted vermilion, carried coal from the collieries six miles away to the great mills and factories of Salford.