I wrote this in 1999.
This is the story of Jane Lathrop Stanford and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death in the early 1900s.
Months of crisscrossing continents passed, and upon returning from Egypt, Albert Beverly suddenly quit his position, explaining he was tired of travel and wanted to see more of his family.
The elderly watchman at Mrs. Stanford’s Palo Alto campus residence offered a different version of events. He contended that the butler was dismissed, and his family ordered to vacate their home at the Palo Alto stock farm. This so angered the butler that he broke a water pipe, causing flood damage to the house, before moving to a cottage in San Mateo Heights.
By 1905, the Nob Hill mansion staff consisted of Ah Wing, the Chinese housekeeper, Elizabeth Richmond, the maid; the houseboy, two cokos and Bertha Berner. Mrs. Stanford hired a temporary butler to replace Albert. Each employee nursed a grievance against the others, and anyone shown favoritism by Mrs. Stanford risked the becoming the victim of petty jealousy.
On the morning of January 14, 1905, Elizabeth Richmond asked the new butler to open a bottle of Poland mineral water for Mrs. Stanford. The water was specially ordered and stored by the case.
The houseboy carried the bottle up the grand staircase to Mrs. Stanford’s thickly carpeted bedroom on the second floor. Mrs. Stanford said she did not sip from this bottle until she retired for the evening. At that time the bottle was half-full and the water tasted bitter and she felt nauseated.
(coming Part (8)