Jane Austen introduces different types of villains in her novels. Some are more annoying than evil. Mr. Collins and Mr. Elton are perfect examples of this group. They are fools with high opinions of themselves. I think Austen has these characters in all her novels because they are very real and we have all known people like them in our lives.
But there are other characters that are quite villainous. Mr. Wickham and Capt. Tilney are prime examples of this type. They lie and take advantage of others with no sign of remorse. These are characters we have no problem loathing.
And then, there are some characters who fall in the grey area. They are not stupid, like the first category, and not as villainous as the second. For example, Frank Churchill in Emma is one of those characters I cannot decide where to place in this spectrum. He lies about his relationship with Miss Fairfax, but does that make him a villain? And what about John Thorp? Willoughby? Miss Bingley? Lady Catherine?
You see? It gets harder and harder to decide what category these characters belong to. And then, there is the question of them getting what they deserve. I mean, Captain Tilney and Mr. Wickham get away with no punishment. Although some may argue that marriage to Lydia is punishment enough. But how about Willoughby? Would a lifetime without the woman he loved be enough?
We all know Jane Austen liked happy endings and her novels always end on a happy note for the couples. But I kind of like to see some sort of punishment for the evil characters. Of course, the punishment has to match the crime. Below, is an excerpt from my novel, To Love and Cherish, where one of my evil characters, a Mr. Brooks, is punished. Mr. Brooks is Lord Paisley’s heir in case His Lordship does not have a child of his own. In order to prevent a marriage between Lord Paisley and Miss Darcy, Mr. Brooks helps George Wickham to gain access to Miss Darcy. In this scene, Mr. Brooks is brought to task by Lord Paisley in a style that is unique to His Lordship. I hope you enjoy reading it.
On the day after his arrival at Paisley Court, Lord Paisley spent a few hours in his study reviewing estate business with his steward, and thus putting into motion the first part of his plan. It was in the early hours of the afternoon and as His Lordship was still working in his study when Mr. Greenwood announced the arrival of Mr. Brooks at Paisley Court.
“Show him to my study, Greenwood,” Lord Paisley told his butler. “And see that we are not disturbed.”
The old butler bowed and left only to return to announce Mr. Brooks.
“Ah, Mr. Brooks. I hope you had a pleasant journey from London?”
“Indeed, my lord. Thank you for your kind invitation. I must say, I was surprised to receive your note.”
“Why should my invitation to Paisley Court surprise you?”
“Because every time I mention a visit, you flatly refuse to entertain the notion.”
“I am sure you understand that there is clear distinction between being invited and inviting oneself.”
Mr. Brooks nodded sheepishly.
“But it is of no matter,” Lord Paisley said. “I have come to reevaluate my decisions since then.”
“I am pleased to hear that. We are, after all, cousins, and I would like to think that you hold me in some affection.”
Lord Paisley smiled, not offering any response to the younger man. Mr. Brooks felt all the difference in their stations by Lord Paisley’s behavior and by the fact that he still had not invited him to sit down.
“I know that I certainly hold you and your family in great affection, my lord,” Mr. Brooks said nervously.
“You do?” Lord Paisley asked, raising both eyebrows in surprise.
“Well, of course I do.”
“I am shocked to hear that. I was under the impression that you desire nothing more than to send me to the devil.”
“That cannot be farther from the truth, my lord.” Mr. Brooks shook his head, his finger tugging at his cravat.
“Oh?” Lord Paisley leaned back in his chair.
“You must see that you do not make it easy on me, always dismissing me and never willing to listen to my financial plans.”
“Have I been as bad as that?” Lord Paisley asked. “How incredibly insensitive of me!”
Mr. Brooks brought out his handkerchief and wiped his sweaty brow. “Yes. I dare say you have been insensitive to my position.”
Lord Paisley suddenly stood. “Well, allow me to make it up to you.”
“Are you in earnest, sir?”
“But of course I am, my dear Brooks.” Lord Paisley smiled as he shuffled some papers on his desk as if looking for something. “I realize that I had not taken you seriously. I see now that that was a grave mistake on my part and I am determined to remedy that directly.”
Mr. Brooks released a sigh of relief. “I do not know what to say, sir.”
Lord Paisley looked up. “I have never known you to be at a loss for words. But fret not. You will soon have plenty to say.”
Lord Paisley nodded. “There is a delicate matter I would like to discuss with you.” Walking around the desk, he leaned against it, facing his cousin.
“As you are my heir,” Lord Paisley began, taking out his snuff box and opening it with one finger. “And you may become the next Marquess of Dartfort, your opinion on the matter is of value, I believe.”
Mr. Brooks smiled with interest. “I am honored. But I had lost hope – that is I had thought that … well I understood you were courting Miss Darcy.”
“I am courting Miss Darcy,” Lord Paisley said as he helped himself to some snuff.
“Well, do you not mean to marry her?”
“I do,” Lord Paisley replied, closing his snuffbox and placing it back in his pocket.
“Then there is no question of me inheriting the estate, sir,” Mr. Brooks said, barely able to conceal his disappointment. “I am certain you will have an heir of your own once you marry.”
“It is certainly my wish to have my own children,” Lord Paisley said, placing both hands on the desk. “But nothing is certain. God may only bless me with daughters. So, as you see, there is hope for you yet.”
“You do not seem to resent that possibility, sir.”
“Do you mean as you have been resenting me for my position?” Lord Paisley asked.
“No, indeed,” Mr. Brooks said hurriedly. “You are a man worthy of your position. And I am sure that given the opportunity, I shall surprise you with my abilities.”
Lord Paisley smirked. “You have already surprised me.”
“Tell me,” Lord Paisley asked. “If you were to become the Marquess of Dartfort, how would you run your estate?”
“With strong command, sir,” Mr. Brooks said proudly.
“My demands shall be followed directly and completely,” Mr. Brooks said, standing taller.
“And what if your demands are not followed as you wished?”
“Whoever dreams of disobeying my wishes will be severely punished.”
“If you find out that someone has schemed against you,” Lord Paisley asked. “Has helped your enemies and has betrayed your trust, what would you do?”
“I will make an example of the man,” Mr. Brooks said. “I must exercise control as the head of the family. I will make him regret his betrayal.”
“But what if you had no proof other than your own intuition?” Lord Paisley asked with genuine interest.
“I would make him confess, of course,” Mr. Brooks said firmly.
“You would?” Lord Paisley raised both eyebrows. “How?”
“I would have him whipped until he confessed to all his deeds.”
“I am so very glad to hear you say so.” Lord Paisley said as he moved toward his cousin. “For now, I shall have no scruples in whipping you.”
“My lord!” Mr. Brooks said, taking a step backwards with alarm. “What is the meaning of this?”
“I am going to whip you until you confess to all your deeds, Brooks,” Lord Paisley said. “And then, I am going to whip you some more for having committed those deeds.”
“What deeds are you speaking of?” Mr. Brooks asked, moving away from the frightening gentleman. “You cannot be serious.”
“Take a good look at me, Brooks,” Lord Paisley said, his voice no longer yielding, his eyes no longer amused. “For this is what I look like when I am deadly serious. Did you think for a minute that you could fool me? That you could scheme against me with the likes of George Wickham and get away unscathed?”
“Who is George Wickham?” Mr. Brooks asked, moving behind a chair. “I promise you I do not know—”
“You try my patience!” Lord Paisley grabbed the chair with one hand and threw it across the room. “Confess the truth! Otherwise, I fear, this is going to be a very long, very painful day for you.”
“But, my lord,” Mr. Brooks pleaded, “you cannot really mean to whip me!”
“I most certainly do. I must, as you so eloquently put it only minutes ago, exercise my control as the head of the family. You, my stupid cousin, had the audacity to scheme against me! You helped a scoundrel like Wickham impose upon Miss Darcy. And I can kill you for that right here, right now.”
“Impose upon her?” Mr. Brooks asked. “He was not going to hurt her. He said he loved her. He said he wanted to marry her.”
“Marry the woman I love?” Lord Paisley bellowed, making Mr. Brooks take another step back.
“I swear to you”—Mr. Brooks held both his palms up in surrender—“he never said anything about hurting her. He said he knew the family. He said he loved her and was convinced that she had a tendre for him as well.”
Lord Paisley bristled at Mr. Brooks’ words and took an angry step toward him.
“I swear,” Mr. Brooks fell on his knees, covering his head with his arms, “I never knew he had any other intentions…I wanted… I wanted you to be disappointed in the lady… so you would not marry her… I… I…”
“You want me to die a bachelor, so you can inherit my estate.”
“You have so much,” Mr. Brooks cried. “You have always had so much. You do not know what it is to have nothing but a small hope for the future. All I wanted was to have some of the luxury and privileges you have enjoyed all your life.”
“You do not deserve the luxury I enjoy. You have no understanding of the responsibilities that comes with those privileges. You could have had a king’s fortune and you still would have wasted it all away.”
Mr. Brooks burst into tears, covering his face, and swaying his body back and forth.
“Please,” he said in between sobs, “I beg you. Do not hurt me.”
“You disgust me,” Lord Paisley spat, glaring down at the man.
“What do you mean to do with me?”
“I am going to give you everything you wished for,” Lord Paisley said with the most ominous smile.