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The Paliser case   By: (1855-1921)

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Printed in the U. S. A.

Then headlong down the stair of life he fell, while up that stairway others laughed and mounted and all were drunken with the wine of youth.



The murder of Monty Paliser, headlined that morning in the papers, shook the metropolis at breakfast, buttered the toast, improved the taste of the coffee.

Murdered! It seemed too bad to be false. Moreover, there was his picture, the portrait of a young man obviously high bred and insolently good looking. In addition to war news and the financial page, what more could you decently ask for a penny? Nothing, perhaps, except the address of the murderer. But that detail, which the morning papers omitted, extras shortly supplied. Meanwhile in the minds of imaginative New Yorkers, visions of the infernal feminine surged. The murdered man's name was evocative.

His father, Montagu Paliser, generally known as M. P., had lived in that extensive manner in which New York formerly took an indignant delight. Behind him, extending back to the remotest past when Bowling Green was the centre of fashion, always there had been a Paliser, precisely as there has always been a Livingston. These people and a dozen others formed the landed gentry a gentry otherwise landed since. But not the Paliser clan. The original Paliser was very wealthy. All told he had a thousand dollars. Montagu Paliser, the murdered man's father, had stated casually, as though offering unimportant information, that, by Gad, sir, you can't live like a gentleman on less than a thousand dollars a day. That was years and years ago. Afterward he doubled his estimate. Subsequently, he quadrupled it. It made no hole in him either. In spite of his yacht, his racing stable, his town house, his country residences and formerly in the great days, or rather in the great nights, his ladies of the ballet, in spite of these incidentals his wealth increased. No end to it, is about the way in which he was currently quoted.

All New Yorkers knew him, at any rate by repute, precisely as the least among us knows Mr. Carnegie, though perhaps more intimately. The tales of his orgies, of his ladies, of that divorce case and of the yacht scandal which burst like a starball, tales Victorian and now legendary, have, in their mere recital, made many an old reprobate's mouth champagne. But latterly, during the present generation that is, the ineffable Paliser M. P. for short who, with claret liveries and a yard of brass behind him had tooled his four in hand, or else, in his superb white yacht, gave you something to talk about, well, from living very extensively he had renounced the romps and banalities of this life.

Old reprobates could chuckle all they liked over the uproar he had raised in the small and early family party that social New York used to be. But in club windows there were no new tales of him to tell. Like a potentate outwearied with the circumstance of State, he had chucked it, definitely for himself, and recently in favour of his son, Monty, who, in the month of March, 1917, arrived from Havana at the family residence, which in successive migrations had moved, as the heart of Manhattan has moved, from the neighbourhood of the Battery to that of the Plaza.

In these migrations the Palisers had not derogated from their high estate. Originally, one of the first families here, the centuries, few but plural, had increased what is happily known as their prestige. Monty Paliser was conscious of that, but not unwholesomely. The enamellings that his father had added gave him no concern whatever. On the contrary. He knew that trade would sack the Plaza, as long since it had razed the former citadels of fashion, and he foresaw the day when the family residence, ousted from upper Fifth Avenue, would be perched on a peak of Washington Heights, where the Palisers would still be among the first people in New York to those coming in town that way... Continue reading book >>

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