SPOOKS ON YACHT
A Livid, Bloody Head Seen on Late Queen Draga’s Vessel
Frantic Scream, Followed by Apparition, Caused Stampede of Crew, Lone Watchman, Left on Board, Next Morning in Dead Faint in Saloon.
Vienna, Jan. 31. An extraordinary story is being told here, on the authority of a Buda-Pesth correspondent. Some weeks ago the yacht which the ill-fated Servian Queen Draga bought shortly before her death was brought up the Danube to the Hungarian capital by its purchaser, a Belgrade merchant.
Owing to the queer stories current about the yacht, difficulty had been experienced in getting a full crew, and on arrival at Buda-Pesth several men deserted. Two days later a dinner party was held on board. A number of idlers, attracted by the yacht’s tragic association, were loitering on the quay, when suddenly a frantic scream was heard, and a beautiful young girl, in evening dress but without her cloak, rushed out of the companion way and dashed along the gangway to land. The excited crowd attempted to stop her and ask what was the matter, but with the mysterious words, “The face! The face!” she tore herself away and rushed down the road.
Next morning rumor spread rapidly that the electric lamp in the yacht’s saloon had gone out during dinner, and that a hideously gashed head, livid and streaming with blood, had stared at the company through a blue mist on the after bulkhead. “It is Draga’s ghost,” said the superstitious.
He Also Saw It.
On the following day the crew deserted in a body. The river authorities ordered a guard to be set on board. Difficulty was experienced in getting anyone to spend the night on the yacht, but at last an old waterman, named Birnbaum, was induced to go on board.
At daybreak he was hailed from the deck by the man who had come to relieve him. No answer was received. The relief, being frightened, ran ashore and refused to go near the yacht.
An hour later three policemen, each trying nervously to keep at the tail of the procession, went on board the yacht, and proceeded down the companion ladder. In the saloon, lying on his back, and in a swoon, in which he had apparently been for several hours, was the watchman. On his face was a look of inexpressible horror.
When brought to Birnbaum refused to say what he had seen, but exclaiming wildly, “The face! The face!” staggered on shore.
Tampa [FL] Tribune 1 February 1905: p. 1
NOTE: Queen Draga, was Draga Milićević Lunjevica [1864-1903], Queen Consort of Alexander I of Serbia. A commoner, she was 15 years older than the King and had been married before. The Queen Mother, whose lady-in-waiting Draga had been, opposed the marriage and was exiled as a result. Queen Draga was considered by the Serbian court and the public to be a wicked adventuress who had seduced the young and naïve King. Unable to bear children, it was said that she tried to pass her sister’s child off as her own. She and the King were assassinated when a rumor started that Draga was going to have her brother named as heir-presumptive. The Serbian Minister in London claimed that he had taken a letter of the King’s to a clairvoyant a month before the assasination. The seer became agitated and described the bloody scene in great detail, apparently as it later actually happened.
At 2:00 a.m., 11 June, 1903, a group of army officers were let into the Konak, the royal palace, by the King’s personal adjutant. They began shooting at the loyal guards and, roused by the noise, the King and Queen fled into a secret alcove. After a long search, a servant showed the assassins where the pair were hidden. The King and Queen were slaughtered where they sheltered: autopsies showed that the King had been hit thirty times, while the Queen was practically cut to pieces by shot and sabre wounds. The younger officers wanted to throw the bodies out the window into the garden, but the Queen’s cousin, Col. Maschin, a member of the King’s bodyguard, refused, exclaiming, “That would be barbarous!” He then went to the gate where many people had gathered and made a speech, declaring, “We have now destroyed the dynasty of the Obrenoviches and have got rid of the dishonorable woman who was the King’s evil spirit. Long live Servia!” Other accounts say that the bodies were mutilated and disemboweled and thrown onto a pile of manure in the garden.