"To–morrow, at the turn of the tide, the brig Forward, K. Z., captain, Richard Shandon, mate, will clear from New Prince's Docks; destination unknown."
This announcement appeared in the Liverpool Herald of April 5, 1860.
The sailing of a brig is not a matter of great importance for the chief commercial city of England. Who would take notice of it in so great a throng of ships of all sizes and of every country, that dry–docks covering two leagues scarcely contain them?
Nevertheless, from early morning on the 6th of April, a large crowd collected on the quays of the New Prince's Docks; all the sailors of the place seemed to have assembled there. The workingmen of the neighboring wharves had abandoned their tasks, tradesmen had left their gloomy shops, and the merchants their empty warehouses. The many–colored omnibuses which pass outside of the docks were discharging, every minute, their load of sight–seers; the whole city seemed to care for nothing except watching the departure of the Forward.
The Forward was a vessel of one hundred and seventy tons, rigged as a brig, and carrying a screw and a steam–engine of one hundred and twenty horse–power. One would have very easily confounded it with the other brigs in the harbor. But if it presented no especial difference to the eye of the public, yet those who were familiar with ships noticed certain peculiarities which could not escape a sailor's keen glance.
Thus, on the Nautilus, which was lying at anchor near her, a group of sailors were trying to make out the probable destination of the Forward.