This is the story of Jane Lathrop Stanford and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death in the early 1900s.
The servant staff resented secretary Bertha Berner’s influence over Mrs. Stanford, and worse, when ordered to obey Bertha, the “people below the stairs” became intensely jealous.
The servants often gossiped about Mrs. Stanford’s last will. They were certain Bertha Berner was in it and the private secretary was certain they were right.
Instances of petty jealousy pervaded the household. Wong Wing, the Chinese housekeeper, the senior member of the servant staff, who had worked for Jane Stanford the longest, abhorred taking orders from Bertha Berner.
Now wonder Wong Wing became agitated when Bertha ordered him to make her a cup of coffee every afternoon. Finally he became angry about the extra “duty” and complained to Mrs. Stanford who commiserated with him.
Learning of the conversation, an annoyed Bertha Berner burst into the kitchen, reportdly confronting Wong Wing: “You made trouble for me with Mrs. Stanford,” she charged. “I will make a lot of trouble for you and everybody else.”
Despite his seniority, and Mrs. Stanford’s sympathy, Wong Wing was also a victim of household rumors. It was said that when Mrs. Stanford’s brother, Harry, died, the Chinese housekeeper told her that Harry promised him $1,000. Without asking questions, Mrs. Stanford gave him the cash, while the servants downstairs whispered to each other that Wong Wing’s story was a lie.
And what was the true nature of the relationship between Bertha Berner and the “shrewd” butler, Albert Beverly?
(Part 5 coming)