Tarnished

Chapter 19

Something inside Alba had snapped the day she’d learned what had happened to her sister. Learning the truth the way she had, and then having her husband tell her never to come home, had been too much.

After leaving Crawley house, she had made her way to the train station, her mind set on one thing. Finding Connell McNeil.

Now, she stood looking around the burgh where her sister had lived the last three years, and thought about how deceptive the little shops and white church at the end of the street seemed to be. She wasn’t sure where Connell lived, so she started walking, pausing when she saw the sign for the doctor.

Deep down she knew that Elsie’s doctor had told her the truth, but she had to try one last time to prove him wrong, prove to herself that she hadn’t sent her sister into hell. This doctor would have seen to any injuries Elsie might have had while living here, he would know the truth.

Walking into the small office, she looked around, thankful that no one was there but what she thought must be the doctor’s nurse.

“Hello, Ma’am. May I help ye?”

“I want to see the doctor.”

The nurse blinked in surprise at the abruptness of Alba’s tone but nodded. “Follow me, please.”

Alba followed, demanding an answer from the man before the nurse had even left. “I want to know the truth about my sister.”

Dr. Shannon wasn’t sure what was going on and looked at his nurse then back to Alba. “Your sister?”

“Yes, my sister. Elsie McNeil.”

“Have a seat, Mrs.,” he paused waiting for the woman to give him her name.

“Never mind my name or me sitting. I want the truth.” Alba scowled then slipped into the Gaelic to repeat what she’d been told by Elsie’s doctor – Richard she thought she’d heard someone call him. Watching the old doctor’s face, she felt her own going pale – everything she’d been told was the truth.

“It’s all true. And there was so much more, that they don’t know of.” Dr. Shannon whispered. “A broken arm for not making the bed properly. A broken hand for not ironing his shirts the way he likes them. Broken fingers for,”

“Stop. Enough. Where is he?”

Dr. Shannon didn’t like the look in the woman’s eyes, but told her where to find Connell anyway, not realizing that the look was the madness taking over. “He’ll be closing up soon.”

“Fine. Fine.” Alba called over her shoulder as she walked out, leaving behind two very confused people.

“Ye don’t think she’ll be tryin’ something, do ye?”

Dr. Shannon shook his head. “Nothing but a split lip will come of it if she does.”

“Aye.” The nurse nodded then sighed. “The man’s a menace. I’m glad the lass was taken away.”

“Aye. So am I.”


Alba looked about the shop, having walked in to find who she assumed to be Connell, busy with a man that seemed to be very interested in the boxes of cigars. Connell had glanced up when she entered, his eyes raking over her, lingering on certain places longer than was proper before turning his attention back to the customer.

Moving around the store, Alba came across something that made her grin. She knew what it was, having lived on a farm all of her life, and wondered why it would be sitting out where anyone could accidently pick it up. Oh well, no matter, it would serve her purpose. Looking up to make sure she was still alone, she grabbed the item and stuck it in the pocket of her skirt then continued on in her perusal to keep up the appearance of being an interested buyer.

“Find something interesting?” Connell’s voice startled her as he came around the corner.

Alba hadn’t heard him, she’d been too busy formulating her plan, but she turned to look at the man and smiled. “Oh, I wasn’t really interested in anything. I came to see you. You see, I’m Alba, Elsie’s sister.”

“Mmm, I thought I noticed a resemblance to my wife. Have you come to tell me you’re bringing her home? That man had no right taking what’s mine.”

“I’ve come to discuss that with you. It won’t be easy getting her back, but maybe I could fix you some supper and tell you what I have planned?” Alba smiled at the man, knowing that she had him by the look in his eyes.

“Leave your husband at home tending to the farm?” Connell asked, sure that he’d found himself a play thing for the night. And a fine figure of a play thing she was, too. A little taller than her sister, smaller in places than he liked, but no matter, he could still get what he wanted from her. After all, it had been ever so long since he’d had a woman all to himself.

“My husband is of no concern. If you would show me to your kitchen, I’ll get started on your meal. I’m sure you’ve been without a good home cooked meal since that man took your wife.”

“Quite. It’s through that door and down the hall on the right. You’ll find everything you need.”

“I’m sure I will.” Alba smiled and walked off in the direction she’d been given.

Connell watched Alba walk away, his appetite growing as he thought of the fun he would be having tonight. Oh yes. This one would be quite fun. Maybe he’d keep her about for a while.


Alba sat watching Connell eat the meal and drink the tea she’d prepared with a little added secret ingredient, all thoughts focused on watching him suffer. “Enjoying your meal?”

“Have you been spoken to?” Connell asked, wondering what it was about women that made them think they had the right to talk out of turn. “In my home, women are to be silent until spoken to.”

“Or what? You’ll break my jaw as you did my sister’s? Rape me? Beat me into submission?” she grinned madly at him when he looked up at her.

“She’s my property. A man has a right to see that his wife submits and obeys him. I took what was mine by rights of marriage.” Connell told her calmly then frowned at the odd feeling that churned in his stomach.

“Something the matter?” Alba asked, knowing that the poison she’d put in the food and tea was beginning to work.

Connell narrowed his eyes as he squirmed in his chair. “What have you done, bitch?”

“You’ll suffer,” she answered him. “Just as you should. You broke her.” Alba whispered as she sat and watched the poison take its revenge.

“You poisoned me, you bitch!” Connell screamed before gasping and falling forward into his plate – death claiming him into the pits of hell.

Alba walked out the back door, disappearing into the night that had fallen over the burgh. Her mind completely gone, she wondered about, not noticing the cold rain that seeped through her clothes. Her sister was safe, the beast from hell had been returned.

“I’m sorry, Elsie. I’m sorry,” she cried as she fell, her voice echoing through the dark, heard by no one but the wind.


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