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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (Feb. 1, 1914)
he Omaha Sunday Bee Magazine Page
My Path Leacte
The Last Road IIouBe of the ''Gay Life"
IT Is only r few days ago that Florenco
Schenck, tho gay, "wilful Virginian
beauty, whoso escapades mado her
notorious In two worlds, died tho day after
she nrrlved nt her old home.
Thrco days beforo lior death, she die
tated tho article that appoars on thts pngo.
Florenco Schonck thought that she had
at least a year to live, and oho had do
,termincd to dovote ovory working hour to
warning, other glrla of tho path sho had
taken tho gay prlmroso path, whose end
Is the unnamed grnvo of Potters Field.
This article wns to liavo boon her first
move la her light.
Tho lesson sho would havo taught In It
has boon vised by Doath, and it is moro
Important now porhaps than It would
liavo been with Its writer still alive.
Miss Schonck, it will bo romombered,
waa the daughtor of Dr.1- Powhattan
Bcaenck, a retirod surgeon of tho United
States army and member of one of tho
"First Families of Virginia," She ran
away with Gharlos Wilson, a whip in the
Alfred Vanderbllt stables. She had tired
of the humdrum, respectable life in a
modest home in the seaport town of Nor
folk, Va. She wanted to see the world.
She Baw it And" -what she hw and ex
perienced killed her.
She led the gayest of lives In New York,
la London, in Berlin.
Here follows her story, her warning to
eker girls, who may be tempted to tread
the path he trod:
"Beware the Path I Trod!"
By Florence Schenck.
Dictate by Her Three Days
HEN my father, in answer to my
pleadings, coma to see me In any
little .room at tho hospital, I
could not sco Mm through my tears. I
could- not speak for tho sob In my throat.
I cluas to his hand, thinking: 'Toor fntherl
Hu ha seen many n shipwreck down home,
but noycr one moro terrible than this of his
daughter's lite." I stared .up into his face
that: was very stern and sad. I whispered:
"Kiss me, father."
die pressed his Hps upon my forehead and
I heard a llttlo choko In his throat.
Then my lovely sister Ann came In and
kissed me and cried. Sho went out of the
room a&d two doctors came in and they and
father looked at my bruised side and tu
purple gash, where the surgeon had made
an incision, and all of them looked very
grave. Afterwards 7 looked up at father
and ho shook his head.
"'-Yen cannot-llyq loug, my daughtor," be
Bald. "At best it .will bo but . abort time
If you Keen to recover It will only mean
that your short life will be that of an in
valid. You havo repented, havo you not?
Then spend whatever tlmo is left to you in
warning other girls against tho path you
"Tho path that leads to the morgue and
then to PotterS Field." I thought.
With my hand in his and our tears min
gling I promised. And this is tho way I
shall do it
I shall grow a little better. That they
nil expect for me. Knowing that it
will only bo a short time aud that Inevita
bly I Shall grow worse and then tho end
will be very near, that tlra of being a lit
tle better will be my golden time. It is then
.that I will carry out by plan.
I shall not go back to my old home at
Norfolk. That would bo too severe a cross
for my proud family, though they have not
refused me shelter. Dut I Jhnll leave New
York, whose other name is temptation, for
girls who have not great talents or the
greatest talent of alt, which is the ability to
resist tho luro of Idleness and gaycty. Even
now with the shadow of death upon me I
fear it for Us fingers, though wreathed iu
(lowers, arc strong and cruel.
I should like to go to n small city, for
instance Richmond, and there live quietly
nod either lecture from the platform or
with my pen, until tho end comes. Always
my sermon will be "The wages of sin is
death," and always I will address myself
to girls, weak, pleasure-loving girls, who
know not what they say when they utter
those ominous words, "I want to see tho
Seven years ago I (slipped out of my quiet
hoa on tho outskirts of Norfolk and came
to New York in Alfred Vandcrbllt's private
car, the Wayfarer. The name of the car
was an omen. But I did not know It then.
It was the most luxurious sight I had ever
seen, with.'velvet draperies and the 6Cent of
sandalwood and of fine cigars and of old
wines hanging about it People who
hen!d tlie car mi got og again were
77ie Career of Miss Florence Schenck, Who Realized
the Fatal Folly of Her Misspent Life
When It Was too Late-And the
Before Her Death.)
people who belonged to tho smiling world,
whero thcro is no fear mingled with tho
thought of paying next mOuth'n bills. I
had forsaken the work world whero I had
been a stenographer, worklug in tho Fair
Grounds nt tho Jamestown Exposition at
seven dollars n week,, and had entered tho
play world, whero I had nothing to do but
look pretty and bo gay spirited.
This alono would not have seemed Justi
fication to me for leaving my home. But I
had nt my elbow and figuratively nt my feet
a man with whom I was lufatuntod.Chnrles
Wilson, whom I had met nt the llorso
Show, while I was admiring tho Vandor
Wit horses. I saw that ho admired me and
I was flattered. When ho began to make
love to me I believed him. When I got
aboard tho Wayfarer I believed that he
would marry mo when we reached New
Instead ho took me to his homo at New
port when a sweet faced, grayhalred woman
greeted me kludly and called him Charlie.
When I asked him who sho was, ho said:
"Don't make a fuss about it Sho's my
I left their homo in Nowport and came
to Now York. Ho followed mo here. I
threatened to go homo and tell my fathor
"You'll not stay long," he sneered.
"They'll kick you out Do you suppose an
F. F. V. will have such a girl as you now
are under its root?"
Although ho spoke in anger, I know he
told the truth. I had always admired
and loved my father, but I know him as
he was, a proud, storn man with llttlo
sympathy for tho weaknesses of human
nature. I had boon very weak and fool
ish. That I loved this man who had
strewn my life path with wreckage when
I was only Boventeon years old would be
llttlo excuso to him. Southerners are hot
headed as well as high-spirited. If I told
father tho truth he might follow Charles
Wilson and kill him. Beforo that thought
I quailed. Often a woman's heart is tral
tor to her own best interests. I remained
in New York. Wilson told me he would
divorce his wlfo and marry mo.
I tried to believe him and I waited. I
hoped and prayed for the time when, re
habilitated, as his wife, I could pay a visit
to my home. But waiting is a dangerous
pastime in New York. Especially it you
are young and beautiful.
It I went out for a walk ray appearance
attracted attention. I was always ac
costed, or was followed home, by some
man, usually ono with cruel eyes and a
predatory mouth. Often I reached home
Just in time to elam the door in his face,
if I dared to go to a play in the after
noon, it was the same.
I was very lonely. Charles Wilson's
travels with the Vandorbllts' horses and
his caro for them at the stables in New
York and in Newport kept, him busy. I
saw him seldom, and then for only a short
time. If you are very clover you can
amuse yourself. You can study and read.
Your thoughts are excellent companions.
But if you are only pretty and dependent
the hours you arc alone are hours of tor
ture. I have heard a girl like me say; "Pco-
Preaches to Women
Tho Sad, Aged Face of-' Florence Schenck a Month Before
Her Death A Broken, Miserable Old Woman at 25.
plo havo dltforent Ideas of hades. MIno
Is just being alono."
Whon you aro alono, it you are such a
girl, thoughts assail you. You boo your
self desortcd, starving, dying and alono.
You think of a way out You plan sui
cide hut you are afraid. In thoso long
hours alone while I was waiting for
Charles Wilson to keep his' promise I
learned to drink.
A girl who wob blue and lonely like
mysolt advlsod it "It will drive away tho
blue devils. You'll think you aro a prin
cessfor a little while," sho said.
Two glasses of champagno made my
head whirl, mado mo danco and sing,
mado mo laugh, made mo build air castles
of tho tlmo when I should go homo and
introduco my husband and when my
mother should take me in her arma and
say, "Daughter. I forglvo you."
Tho next time I was alone and bluo I
drank again, this, time threo glasses. I
kept on comforting myself thus in secret
Once Wilson came to call and found me
unconscious, with the empty bottlo and
glass beside me. He was vory angry. Wo
Quarrelled. He stayed away. I entreated
hlra to como back. It was tho beginning
of many scenes between us.
Whether ho would have willingly kopt
his words had I not in thoso months of
waiting formed the habit of drinking, I
don't know. I have nover been sure. But
of this I am sure. It gave him an excuse
tor procrastinating. It gave him reason
to tell me that his love was gone because
the girl who had come from Norfolk with
him was gone.
My mirror told me that this time he told
the truth. I waa not the same girl. My
figure was losing Its slim, youthful lines.
My features were bloated. My eyes were
smaller nnd the lids were heavy. My
fresh color had disappeared and had given
way to a gray, pasty look. I was sober
the morning I looked into the mirror and
saw the truth that all I had. my beauty,
was -vanishing. I threw myself on the bed
and cried for hours. I promised myself
to stop drinking.
Copyright, 1014, by the Star Company.
- Then to Potters
But that evening some gay friends tele
phoned mo of a party that was being mado
np at a rathskeller to watch tho old year
out and tho new In. I knew I should be
alone. I went I slept all of the next
day. When I awoke I know what that
heavy torpor meant. I had drunk too
much, far too much.
I had bocome a slave. Lot me tell you
what it Is to become a slave to drink. It
Is ' to becomo utterly hopeless. It Is to
become incapable of effort of any kind,
oven effort of tho will. Friends tried to
"pull mo up." They suggested Paris. But
I felt only the call of the cafes In Montr
London, Jan. 24.
OR come tlmo past Queen Alex
andra's financial affairs have been
the subject ot a good deal of talk
among thoso in her Immediate entourage.
Her Dowager Majesty is perhaps one
ot the worst wo menof business who over
had tho unfettered control of a consider
able fortune. Her income from the state
is $350,0Q0 per annum and her privato
fortune in the way ot charges on the es
tate of the late king and interest from
Invested monies amounts to about $600,000.
Thts Income, properly managed, would
far more than have sufficed to meet tho
needs of Her Majesty after King Ed
ward's death, and would have been suf
ficient to have kept her In the dignity .and
state which the widow ot the sovereign
might have naturally desired to have
But her expenditures have been steadily
Increasing until during the past year, it
has exceeed her income by several tens
of thousands. ft
The catering bills and wages at Marl
borough Houso, which Sir Dlghton Probyn
considered should not exceed $100,000 per
annum, last year amounted to $200,000,
Great Britaln(RlghU Reserved.
martre. I -wont to London. 1
handled tho Vanderbllt horses
now and then, and the papers
talked of tho Virginia beauty
who was so clever a whip. 'But
all tho while a voice whispered
to me when I was alone, "You
aro not beautiful. You aro not
happy. You are not gay. You
only seem to be. You and your
kind are apples of Sodom, beau
tiful outside, but ashe3 within
the ashes of despair.'
Charles Wilson's mood to
ward mo varied. Sometimes he
was kind. At others cruel. He
secured ttils divorce. There
was a ceremony. I have brought
a suit to prove that I becamo
his legal wife. That suit Is
But ho afterward married an
other. A young, lovely girl,
with such a face of Innocence
as I had when I first met him.
The news drove me frantic. I
watched for them one day, and
when they drove up to tho sta
ton I threw myself In her path
and told her my story. "Ho Is
not your husband. He's mine,"
I said, pointing at him. A crowd
collected. Ho had me arrested.
I served a term In. Holloway
Jail, with my golden hair, that
he had often said was my chlof
beauty, cut off.
When I had sorved my term I
searched London for friends and help. I
went to Paris and was arrested at tho sta
tion for disorderly conduct Thirty days.
Whon I spoke people looked at me with
contempt and drew away. My story was
written in my bloated features, In my
eycB, that betrayed my secret I was a
Ono night I Bat all night while tho cold
gray fog came up from tho river and
wraped me round, on one of the benches
on the Embankment, with other human
Once I tried to kill myself, but in that
as in everything else In my lite, I failed.
I drifted back to America, halt of my
passage paid by charitable Americans. I
told my story to those I bad known In my
first days in New York. Thoy doled out
money to me, a little nt a time, saying,
Queen Who Is Always in Debt
while Her Majesty's living expenses and
the wages at Sandrlngham amounted to
$400,000; thus in living expenses alone
Queen Alexandra last year spent $250,000
more than tho sum which she receives
from tho nation, which was supposed to
cover tho cost ot her maintenance and the
upkeep of her two establishments.
Before Queen Alexandra went with her
sister to Balmoral she ordered a special
through train from London to Ballater,
and then almost at the last moment
altered the hour she had arranged to
leave London at from 2.30 p. m. to 3.45
p. m. The alteration In the special serv
ice naturally caused great Inconvenience
to the railway company and put an ad
ditional $1,600 to the cost ot tho special,
and the only reason why Her Majesty
made the alteration in the hour of her
departure from London was In order to
allow her time to see some new designs
for the papering ot one ot the rooms at
Marlborough House, which could have
easily toeenjscnt on to iher at Balmoral.
Queen Alexandra's expenditure on gifts
to relations And friends is lavishly ex
travagant Her Majesty paid $14,000 for
a gold, vase which she presented to the
Duchess ot Flft for a wedding present
Tho End of the "Primrose" PatK.
"Spend It for food, not rum, Florence."
I didn't follow their advice. A chari
table woman wroto my parents. My own
mother answered, eaylng her heart was
broken, but that they had given mo up,
that my case was hopeless.
A klndhearted woman place? mo with
tho good sisters in a convent near Har
rison, New York'. They wero kind to mo
but they would glvo mo nothing to drink.
I craved drink- I went mad for it. L
climbed the high convent wall, ran to tho
station, found a dollar on tho station floor
where some one had dropped it and paid
my faro to New York. Whon I arrived I
went straight to a cafe. I asked the pro
prietor, who had known me In prosperous
times, to trust mo for the drinks. I tele
phoned a woman friend who came and
paid for them, though she did grudgingly.
"I suppose I'll have to get you out ot
hock, you fool," sho said.
"That's it." I said. "I'm a fool. I am
filled with tho folly that you pour out of
Since then I've lived about, on the boun
ty of former friends who pitied me. My
health and strength were gone. I lay .In
bed all day, awaking only to drink myself "
into a stupor. To be sober was to reallzo
the depths to which I had fallen and that
was torment for then tho fine sensibilities
I had inherited from gentle folk awoke in
me and lashed me as with whips.
Then came this last terrible illness that
sooner or later will prove fatal. There, Is
no hopo for mo. Drink caused the ab
dominal walls to become encysted. It
hardened my liver. I am dying, though
tediously, slowly. There Is no hope for
me. But there Is hope that I may say
what will warn other girls from a fato '
I havo seen other girls slip slowly down
to perdition as I have dono and even moro
rapidly. That dreaded disease, "swift
consumption," Is not quicker than drink
when It devours somo bodies and blights
"Do you drink?" I heard a physician ask
a beautiful young actress.
t"No," sho replied, her clear eyes looking
Into his, corroborating her story. "Why
do you ask?"
"Because," ho replied, "if you did you
would bo dead or Insane in three weeks."
Hers, he explained, was n delicately
organized constitution upon which liquor
would work havoc, rnp'ldly destroying her
nerves and putting out the lamp of her
I know a girl who is beautiful as tho
dawn, her beauty of the fresh, delicious
sort of dew-kissed violets. Yet that girl
Bits nil day In cafes, drinking brnndy and
finishing tho day with doses of cocalno.
The doctors say that at most she can
live two months.
Drink is the greatest danger that threat
ens a woman's footsteps, for it is the be
ginning of all other pitfalls. Avoid the
first glass and regard the friend who otters
you a first glass from that time as an
Old men give tho advice: "Keep your
head." You cannot keep your head with
demons of brandy or green devils of ab
sinthe dancing in your brain.
Old women tell you to guard well your
heart, for that way danger lies. You can
not guard your heart whllo fumes ol
strong drink are muddling your Ideas. At
suchtlme every ono seems a friend and
everyone Is enwrapped In romance.
The greatest safeguard a girl can have.
isn fear n hatred of strong drink and of
the drugs that follow.
Drink and drugs are sign posts on the
path whlcli leads by way ot the Morgue to
Potter's Field. My way, your way, the
way thatbegins in forced gayety and ends
in despair, the way not of mirth, but of
misery, abject and hopeless.
Her Majesty, when at Balmoral, ordered
a pearl and diamond necklace as a pres
ent for the Princess Mary to wear at the
royal wedding. Four necklaces were sent
from London to Balmoral by special mes
senger for Her Majesty's approval. Ono
of theso was valued at $15,000, and this
Bhe would have given to the Princess, but
Queen Mary would not allow Her Majesty
to do so.
A couplo of months ago Queen Alex
andra was forced to faco tbe fact that her
expenditure was exceeding her Income by
a notification from her Bankers that her
privato account was overdrawn by nearly
$75,000. To meet her bankers' overdraft,
Queen Alexandra (has had to resljzo some
of -hor securities, and at the urgent solici
tations of Kfng George. Her Majesty has
allowed Mr. Leopold de Rothchlld to go
into her financial affairs.
Only last week, on tho suggestion ot
the chief groom at the stables at Marl
borough House, she allowed an order to
be -sent out for three motor luggage
wagons at a cost ot $2,000 per wagon,
which will put a commission of at least
v750 in tho pocket of tho groom, and the
wagons, which are not required, will prob
ably never be used.
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