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Hidden T peasu pe at Castie…

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Hidden T peasu pe at Castie Coch Wood. II!. THE PIRACY OF THE" FERRET." A Strange Narrative, "A tale founded on fact," is a very common addition to the title rages of works of fiction, and, no doubt, many incidents in the ordinary life of an individual serve as a peg round which are woven a chain of events, more or less romantic in in character, according to the skill or imagination of the writer. Probably the incidents which fol- low might, with a little expansion, form the chief episode in a three-volume novel of the modern school. It is not, however, intended to give any tingo of romance to this narrative, the facts connected with which have been long known to the writer, but they were given in confidence, and were consequently withheld until circumstances should arise which would render it no longer necessary that the confidence should be preserved. The circumstances at one time were peculiar, still there was nothing very unusual in the fear that they should be divulged, as at that time the knowledge ot the incidents was confined to few persons they were also surrounded with a good deal of mystery they were only revealed to the few after considerable caution and it was ap- prehended that possibly he who divulged the secret might, from the vindictive character of some of the Spanish people who were concerned in it, become a marked man and find himself in an awkward position. Whether there is any vast treasure hidden in some quiet spot within the precints of the wood surrounding Castle Coch is not the province of the writer to prove, hut to show that state- ments were made some time ngo that such treasure was hidden there, 1 j'Ú there were then many collateral circumstances to support those statements, and that lately other circumstances tend to show that there is a p.\v la bility that they are true. It, wa only some i ce after the first incident were made known that the property deposited there was admitted to ha\e been stolen, and when that was revealed any further dealings with the parties by whom the statements were made ceased at once. With the first part of the narrative hundreds o: persons, whose business eugagements connect them with the docks, are perfectly familiar, and require little to bring up all the details to their remembrance, but this part is only, by an acci- dental circumstance, connected with the main ssue. In October, 1880, an iron screw steamer, called the Ferret, entered the East Cardiff Dock. Her reputed owners were the Dingwall and Skye Railway Company, who had, it was said, chartered her to a gentleman in London, and he again sublet the contract to another. She was a steamer of considerable speed, and had been fitted up as a passenger vessel. Messrs Shoit and Dunn were the brokers, and she was boon loaded with a cargo of coal by Messrs Cory Bro; tiers consigned to their agent at Marseilles. The captain was a gentleman who did not reside at one place during his stay at Cardiff, but for a [Lrt of the time lodged at the Cardiff Arms Hotel, or frequented it ofteii. He spent money freely, and when the vessel left the docks, on the 23rd Oct., she had received on board an enormous quantity of provision, and the steward's cabin presented the appearance of a victualling apartment beloog- iug to a gentleman's yacht, and not the cook' pantry for a cargo-carrying vessel. There was a profuse supply or wine, spirits, &c., and every- thing was of the best quality. There were ceiU-i» things also about the vessel, which to the matter- of-fact people at the docks, excited their suspicion that all was not right, and when the pilot, who took the vessel down channel, returned and spoke of the good cheer and the jolly life all were leading on board that suspicion became strength- ened. At this time there was staying at the Cardiff Arms Hotel, a gentleman said to be a Spaniard. He became acquainted with the captain of the Ferret, and when she left ostensibly for May- seilles, ha sailed with her as a super-cargo. The Ferret never went to Marseilles, but landed her super-cargo at a small port on the south coast of Spain. Then at a distance from land, she was repaintsd, her name altered two or three times, and the cargo was consumed as bunker coal. Her seisure by those on board became known to t[." owners. She was chased from one place to another, but was eventually captured and claimed for the owners in Australia by the proper authorities, the captain and crew were tried before a proper tri- bunal and sentenced to long terms of imprison- ment for an act of piracy. The circumstances connected with the chase and seizure of the Ferret gave rise to a good deal of interest at the docks. She was the subject of conversation for some months, but, like all simi- lar circumstances, she ceased in time to be re- membered. A long time afterwards a gentleman holding a distinguished position in the town, a borough magistrate, and also a man of considerable pro- party, received a letter, purporting to have been written by a prisoner in one of the carceras, or prisons, at Madrid, asking, in some vague kind of way, whether the gentleman would Issist in the recovery of treasure of some considerable amount deposited in a secret place near Cardiff. The letter was show to the head constable, who regarded it, as a hoax. The stipendiary, to whom the letter also was shown, cams to a different conclusion and eventually a reply was sent, which resulted in a correspondonco being commenced, and main- tained almost entirely on one side, but in the course of which a somewhat singular narrative was developed. The writer of the letters was a prisoner, but as everything in Spain was to be purchased, even in- dulgence to prisoners could be procured by means of bribery. The prisoner, after a time, admitted that he was at one time the private secretary of a Spanish nobleman who entrusted him with pro- perty to a considerable amount to be conveyed to England. He came to London with it, but from the first he evidently intended to appropriate the property to his own use. He left London, went to Bristol, and stayed for some time at an hotel there. He then came to Cardiff and stayed for a still longer period at the Cardiff Arms Hotel. During his stay there his friends in Madrid informed him that his employer had discovered his duplicity, and agents were sent to England to arrest him. Fearing capture he deposited the valuable trea- sure with which he had been entrusted in a secret place, not far from Cardiff, and then left in a steamer bound for Marseilles, but was landed on the coast of Spain. He was discovered by the agents of the nobleman, arrested, and tried at INIadrid for feloniously disposing of property en- trusted to him by his master, and sentenced to a long term of imprisonment in one of the carceras ia Madrid. To support this story official documents were enclosed, bearing the seal of the court, and duly signed by the proetor. These documents stated the nature of the ciime com- mitted, which was that of misappro- priating or stealing property entrusted to him, the name of the owner of the property, the person charged, which was the same as the writer of the letter, and the sentence passed upon him. The writer was anxious for an interview from the gentleman at Cardiff, to whom he sent the letter, at the Carcera, Madrid, when all details would be given. In the later letters it was made known that the treasure had been deposited in the wood surround- ing Castle Coch. A plan of the castle and wood was sent. A line was drawn from the castle at a certain angle, and this, if continued for a certain distance, that distance to be given at the inter- view, would indicate the precise spot where the treasure was deposited. This plan was cut in two in a zigzag and herring-bone fashion the one half was retained, and on the gentleman present- ing the other half to the prisoner's agent at Madrid, whose name and address were given, the gentleman would receive the other half and further information which would lead to the discovery of the treasure. The letters were written partly in Spanish and English, but the details showed that the was acquainted with the Cardiff Arms Hotel, and the direc- tion to Castle Coch, Castla Coch i:self, and the wood surrounding it. Seve.il to; grams were sent, but as no reply to them w.is received at Madrid, the correspondence ceased and the sub- ject gradually faded from memory. The time for which the man was imprisoned has expired, and a few weeks ago, three gentlemen, speaking English very imperfectly, were seen in the wood, and were also observed attentively looking at the castle. In the summer time, when visitors are frequent, such a circumstance would not have excited any suspicion, but, during the winter months, visitors are scarce, and strangers are almost certain to attract attention. They may have had no object but curiosity in view in examining the castie and traversing the wood in various directions, but it is possible there may be truth in the prisoner's statements, and that these men are in some way connected with it. That such a crime was committed; that such a man was tried and sentenced, the official documents of the court prove, and these, with the plan and letters, remain in the custody of gentleman in Cardiff, to whom they were sent.

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