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The Mysterious Steamer.

During the last few days we have published several telegrams from Melbourne, referring to a steamer named the India, which recently arrived from Mauritius. The wire informed us that the vessel had been seized by the Commissioner of Customs for sailing under a false register. The telegram added that the vessel was understood to be the Ferret, which mysteriously disappeared from Glasgow at the beginning of February last, leaving a number of valueless bills in payment of its debts. Some interesting particulars respecting the disappearance of the Ferret are given by a contemporary, from which we make the following extracts :—About the middle of October last a gentleman giving the name of Walker called on a leading firm of ship store merchants in Glasgow, represented that he was acting as broker for a gentleman of means who was going on a long yachting cruise, and desired to favor the firm with the contract for the provisioning of the vessel. References were asked and found to be satisfactory. It was stated that the vessel had been chartered from the Highland Railway company. It was also given out, more by ambiguous allusion than by direct assertion, that the person for whom Mr Walker appeared was named Smith, and a relative of the late First Lord of the Admiralty. The goods, were, therefore, supplied, including, it is rumored, a large stock of the highest class wines from London. The name of the vessel is (or was) the Ferret. She is a screw-steamer l7o£ft long, 23ft broad, and 12|ft deep, having a gross measurement of 347 tons. Having completed their task of providing for the six months’ hungers and thirsts of the yachtsmen, the merchants presented their bill, amounting to L 2,490. To liquidate this account Mr Walker gave his acceptance at three months’ date, but the firm asked Mr Smith also to sign the bill, which was done. When the acceptance became due it was presented in regular course, but it was dishonored—Mr Walker’s balance having been lifted and the account closed after the bill was granted. Inquiries were at once set on foot as to the whereabouts of the Ferret, but these proved fruitless. When she left the Clyde she was taken round to CardiS by a crew of runners, who then left her —the only ones standing by being the captain and engineers. At this port she shipped a new crew, and having coaled, started on her cruise. The Highland Railway Company, from whom the vessel had been chartered, having got no charter money from the parties since they sailed from Glasgow, put themselves in communication with Lloyd’s and the Board of Trade, and through Lloyd’s agents and the British Consuls enquiries were made all over the world, with the view of tracing the vessel. A number of other traders and shopkeepers in Glasgow, by the promise of cash in fourteen days, and so forth, were led into furnishing Mr Smith and Mr Walker with some silver plate and cutlery, others with napery, and others, again, with china, crystals, etc. Altogether the accounts left unpaid in Glasgow are estimated at over L 2,000.

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Bibliographic details

The Mysterious Steamer., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 336, 5 May 1881

Word Count

The Mysterious Steamer. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 336, 5 May 1881