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THERE is much criminal drama in the history and progress of the commerce that has plied the seven seas. The sea does not wash away the stains of crimes, and justice, as in all other places on the earth, ls the winning warrior against the evil doings of all men, be they merchant, mariner or millionaire.

Mutiny and murder are the usual weapons of the criminal mariner and such notorious cases as that which involved the ill-fated and blood-stained adventures of the crew of the "S.S. Veronica" surpass many other crimes in brutality, wickedness and daring.

The disaster which befell the twelve-man crew of this one-thousand ton wooden ship voyaging from Ship Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, to Montevideo with a cargo of timber, seems to have occurred without due cause. As is often the case, it would seem here too that it was the crew's brooding over trivial matters which affected their vanity and lust for personal glory that made them commit enormities so out of proportion to any hope oi gain they may have entertained.

The ship's master, Alexander Shaw, was a mature man, of quiet character and an able captain oi his twelve-man crew—two mates, a negro cook and eight other men. Upon its departure, the ship was pronounced very seaworthy and well provisioned. There was no obvious cause for alarm, and a safe and profitable voyage seemed to be assured yet, amazingly enough, the "Veronica." was never seen again in port or on sea a few days after it left Ship Island on October 11, 1902, bound for Montevideo.

The first news of the ship's fate was received when one of her lifeboats, manned by five of its crew, reached Cajueria Island, about 150 miles south of the Equator, on Christmas Day of the year 1902. The five survivors were: Rau, who claimed to be the second officer of the "Veronica," Smith, Morisson, Flohr, and the negro cook. It was Rau who volunteered the story of the "Veronica's" fate and he told a sad but not improbable story of disaster.

RAU related how, while in Florida Straits, one man on board had died of fever and, shortly afterwards, the chief mate was killed by a mysterious accident which also caused injuries to others in the crew. He failed to elaborate upon this "accident." He related further that he was made a second officer by Captain Shaw as a result of the mate's death and that all seemed to go along smoothly again until December 20, when a mysterious fire in the hold forced the captain to order the ship abandoned. The crew collected themselves into two lifeboats but they lost sight of one another in the smoke which billowed over the burning ship.

This story seemed plausible to all those who heard Rau relate the incident; however, it was unfortunate, indeed, that it never occurred to anyone that it Was quite strange that the lost boat contained both the master and the first officer, while Rau was in sole command of the surviving boat. Fortunately, impending events threw light upon this strange coincidence and as each new clue and fallacy in the story was unfolded, the full wickedness of the crime was to be seen. No more brutal or purposeless murder would seem to have been committed.

On numerous occasions, the negro cook had confided to several persons that the seven men in the missing lifeboat had been murdered and that the "Veronica" was deliberately fired and sunk by his fellow survivors. This intimation was made to the captain of the "S.S. Brunswick" on which the survivors were given passage to Liverpool. Suspicious of Rau's story and half-believing the cook's accusations of Rau as the treacherous ringleader, the Brunswick's captain handed them over to the Liverpool police immediately upon arriving at that port. Flohr broke down first under questioning and confessed some of the ill doings, while Rau and the others, perceiving that the negro cook had told the entire story to the captain, outwardly accused the cook of the crime.

ACCORDING to Flohr, Rau planned to run away before the "Veronica" put out to sea but changed his mind. Rau was known as a vain, boastful arrogant sailor and often fought with Paddy, another of the crew, who likewise boasted of his abilities as a sailor. About eight weeks out, Rau intimated to Flohr and Morrison that he had heard the mates plotting to throw them overboard. He then suggested that the three band together for a mutiny and throw the officers overboard first. The mutiny was arranged and at midnight on the first Sunday in December, Rau killed Paddy with an iron belaying pin and threw his body overboard, disposed of Johanssen in a similar manner and then preceded to seek the captain out of his hold. Captain Shaw, whose partial deafness made him totally ignorant of the terrible fracas which was going on below, finally came on deck only to meet a shot from Rau's gun. Wounded and secured he was locked in his cabin along with another wounded crewman. The negro cook locked himself in his cabin and thereby saved his life. Smith's intercession with Rau finally saved the cook's life and he was ordered to cook for the surviving five men and was also made to provision the lifeboat which they had planned to use after firing the ship.

THE "Veronica" was then made a blazing inferno of dead men and infamous deeds. Although they rehearsed their stories over and over again, there was an unexpected hitch as is the case in all ways of criminals. Two of the survivors, Johanssen and Alec failed to learn the story authored and constantly drilled by Rau, and so they too were murdered. These marked, seven victims, Rau naturally assumed command oi the survivors. With all opposition murdered and the Veronica now a burning hulk, the survivors "enjoyed" an uneventful voyage, occupying themselves with rehearsing the story which they thought would allay any and all suspicions as to the real fate of their ship. The other lifeboat was to have been capsized in the story so as to drown the others; and since their boat could not hold seven, Julius was made to die of fever and the first officer of an accident. With land in sight, Rau made sure of last-minute details and threw charts, compasses and remaining food and weapons overboard so as to give verification to their plight.

However, despite all preparation and scheming, Rau and Smith related their stories to the authorities lamely and unconvincingly and the jury, unhesitatingly, returned a verdict of guilty.

So ended one of the strangest episodes in maritime history.