The villain’s sidekick

Ella's attacker The Maid George Lambert 1915Do you have a villain or villainess, out to wreak havoc in your protagonists’ lives? Or even just a slightly negative character who throws stumbling blocks in the way of their desires and intentions?

We’ve had villains before, so I thought today, I’d go down a step. Just as heroes and heroines have secondary characters to support them, so do most antagonists. Share an excerpt about one of the people who backs up your spoilsport, gossip, or outright villain.

Mine is from the first few pages of A Raging Madness. As you’ll see, Kerridge is dresser to Constance, Ella’s sister-in-law, and the wicked woman’s accomplice.

laudanum1Kerridge brought Ella’s evening dose of laudanum. Presumably Constance believed that Ella was still under the influence of the measure forced down her throat this morning, and would swallow Kerridge’s without offering a struggle.

Even though she’d managed to dribble at least part of what she secreted in her cheeks onto the pillow without Constance noticing, she was still mazed. Another dose would take her under, but Kerridge resented being forced to a task so beneath her dignity as a dresser, and would do no more than watch to see that Ella took the dose into her mouth. She would not insist on waiting until Ella swallowed, would not pinch her nose and hold her jaw shut.

Being too meek would be suspicious. Ella turned her head away from the spoon, her teeth clenched shut, but yelped at Kerridge’s sharp pinch and the dresser immediately forced the spoon into Ella’s mouth.

Glaring sullenly, she stopped struggling, and the dresser withdrew the spoon, stretching her thin lips into a smug smile.

Ella asleep“There, Lady Melville. This would go more easily for you if you would just do what you are told,” she said.

She turned to measure a second spoonful, and Ella let the first out of her mouth. The pillow reeked of the pernicious stuff, and still had damp patches though she dried it by the fire at every chance she had. She accepted the second mouthful without a struggle. Had she swallowed the first, she would be totally compliant by now, and Kerridge did not question her sudden obedience, but picked up the bottle and left the room.

As soon as the key turned in the lock, Ella slid out of bed to find the chamber pot, and spit the remaining laudanum into it. She washed her mouth once, twice, three times. She had ingested a little—enough to further fog her brain, but not enough to douse the sharp flame of purpose. She had to get away. She had to escape. She had no idea why her brother and sister-in-law were keeping her alive, but she could not count on it continuing.