Nageon de L’Estang’s letters – English

Note: this is my free translation of the papers as given by Robert Charroux in “Trésors du monde: enterrés, emmurés, engloutis” (1962), pp.290-292. For an interlinear transcription (i.e. comparing different variants of the letters) of the French original, see this page.

I’m about to enlist to defend the motherland, and will without much doubt be killed, so am making my will. I give my nephew the reserve officer Jean Marius Nageon de l’Estang the following: a half-lot in La Chaux River district of Grand-Port, île de France, plus my treasures saved from the Indus. Having been wrecked in a creek near Vacoas, I walked up a river and deposited riches of the Indus in a cave which I marked with my initials BN. My writings are deliberately difficult to read as a precaution; I would tell Justin if I were to retrieve them first.

10th May 1800. Dear Justin, if I die before seeing you, a true friend will give you my will and my papers. I recommend you follow my instructions and execute my last will and God bless you. With help from our influential friends, get yourself to the Indian Ocean and the île de France at the location indicated by my will. Climb the cliff going eastward; twenty-five or thirty steps along, in accordance with the documents, you will find typical pirate marks forming a circle with the river a few feet east from the centre. That is where the treasure is. Strangely-combined enciphered figures at this place yield the initials “BN”. Near my wreck, I lost a lot of material, and I have already removed several treasures, so there remain only four buried in the same way by the same pirates, which you will find using the cipher key and the other papers that will reach you at the same time as this. The second treasure is located in the northern part of the île de France with similar marks. With the combination of the circle at the scene and following these recommendations, you will retrieve it like that of Rodrigues.

Beloved brother, I’ve been sick since the fall of Tamatave, despite the care of my friend the commander. I am weak, I fear death from one moment to the next, I wish to talk to you one last time dear Étienne and give you my greatest recommendations. When I am dead, Captain Hamon will give you the little that I possess that I saved during my adventurous life at sea. You know, dear Étienne, that my life’s dream was to amass a fortune to bring back our family’s splendour. With the benevolence the First Consul showed me after a glorious feat of arms, I had hoped to return. But as God will not allow me to perform this duty and I feel close to death, swear to me dear Étienne that you will execute my wishes. In my adventurous life before embarking on the Apollon, I was one of those pirates who did so much harm to our enemies Spain and England. We made many splendid captures from them, but at our last battle with a large British frigate on the shores of Hindustan, the captain was wounded and on his deathbed confided to me his secrets and his papers to retrieve considerable treasure buried in the Indian Ocean; and, having first made sure that I was a Freemason, asked me to use it to arm privateers against the English. But I abhor this wandering life, so I decided to enlist permanently and wait for France to calm down before finding these treasures and return back there. Swear to me that your eldest son will carry out my wishes and one day return to our house with the fortune. The captain will give you the documents about the treasures, three of them. The one buried on my dear île de France is considerable. According to the documents, you will see: three iron barrels and jars full of minted doubloons and thirty million ingots and a copper box filled with diamonds from the mines of Visapur and Golkonda [from whence many famous diamonds such as the Koh-i-Noor came].