On June 16, 1832 Charlotte finds herself on the docks of Liverpool England accompanied by one of her father's business associates, Mr. Grummage. Mr. Grummage is a somber gentleman dressed in black with a stovepipe hat.
Charlotte bids a tearful adieu to Miss Emerson, her female traveling companion.
The sights and sound of the dock fascinate Charlotte, especially the exotic commodities like silk, tea, tobacco, monkeys, and parrots. She calls the scene "delicious chaos" (1.13). We'd agree.
Charlotte learns from Mr. Grummage that she's going to set sell on an American merchant ship called the Seahawk run by a man named Captain Jaggery.
The porter carrying Charlotte's trunk overhears Mr. Grummage mention Captain Jaggery and appears to be repulsed by the name. The man refuses to carry the trunk any farther and marches off.
When the second porter attempts to carry the trunk, he sees the Seahawk, drops the trunk and hightails it out of there too. What's the deal?
Mr. Grummage goes on board while Charlotte surveys the ship from the dock. The Seahawk is a two-masted ship known as a brig. There's a figurehead of a seahawk carved beneath the bowsprit.
While gazing at the ship, Charlotte sees a man shimmying up the mooring ropes from the dock to the Seahawk.
Mr. Grummage returns to inform Charlotte that the two families who were to act as her guardians have pulled out.
Charlotte voices concern over continuing the journey alone, but Mr. Grummage insists that she follow her parents' orders and board the ship.