And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

  There was a pause—a long pause.

  Seven people looked at each other and could find no words to say.


  The storm broke just as the old man’s body was borne in through the door.

  The others were standing in the hall.

  There was a sudden hiss and roar as the rain came down.

  As Blore and Armstrong passed up the stairs with their burden, Vera Claythorne turned suddenly and went into the deserted dining-room.

  It was as they had left it. The sweet course stood ready on the sideboard untasted.

  Vera went up to the table. She was there a minute or two later when Rogers came softly into the room.

  He started when he saw her. Then his eyes asked a question.

  He said:

  ‘Oh, Miss, I—I just came to see…’

  In a loud harsh voice that surprised herself Vera said:

  ‘You’re quite right, Rogers. Look for yourself. There are only seven…’


  General Macarthur had been laid on his bed.

  After making a last examination Armstrong left the room and came downstairs. He found the others assembled in the drawing-room.

  Miss Brent was knitting. Vera Claythorne was standing by the window looking out at the hissing rain. Blore was sitting squarely in a chair, his hands on his knees. Lombard was walking restlessly up and down. At the far end of the room Mr Justice Wargrave was sitting in a grandfather chair. His eyes were half closed.

  They opened as the doctor came into the room. He said in a clear penetrating voice:

  ‘Well, doctor?’

  Armstrong was very pale. He said:

  ‘No question of heart failure or anything like that. Macarthur was hit with a life preserver or some such thing on the back of the head.’

  A little murmur went round, but the clear voice of the judge was raised once more.

  ‘Did you find the actual weapon used?’


  ‘Nevertheless you are sure of your facts?’

  ‘I am quite sure.’

  Mr Justice Wargrave said quietly:

  ‘We know now exactly where we are.’

  There was no doubt now who was in charge of the situation. This morning Wargrave had sat huddled in his chair on the terrace refraining from any overt activity. Now he assumed command with the ease born of a long habit of authority. He definitely presided over the court.

  Clearing his throat, he once more spoke.

  ‘This morning, gentlemen, whilst I was sitting on the terrace, I was an observer of your activities. There could be little doubt of your purpose. You were searching the island for an unknown murderer?’

  ‘Quite right, sir,’ said Philip Lombard.

  The judge went on.

  ‘You had come, doubtless, to the same conclusion that I had—namely that the deaths of Anthony Marston and Mrs Rogers were neither accidental nor were they suicides. No doubt you also reached a certain conclusion as to the purpose of Mr Owen in enticing us to this island?’

  Blore said hoarsely:

  ‘He’s a madman! A loony.’

  The judge coughed.

  ‘That almost certainly. But it hardly affects the issue. Our main preoccupation is this—to save our lives.’

  Armstrong said in a trembling voice:

  ‘There’s no one on the island, I tell you. No one!’

  The judge stroked his jaw.

  He said gently:

  ‘In the sense you mean, no. I came to that conclusion early this morning. I could have told you that your search would be fruitless. Nevertheless I am strongly of the opinion that “Mr Owen” (to give him the name he himself has adopted) is on the island. Very much so. Given the scheme in question which is neither more nor less than the execution of justice upon certain individuals for offences which the law cannot touch, there is only one way in which that scheme could be accomplished. Mr Owen could only come to the island in one way.

  ‘It is perfectly clear. Mr Owen is one of us…’


  ‘Oh, no, no, no…’

  It was Vera who burst out—almost in a moan. The judge turned a keen eye on her.

  He said:

  ‘My dear young lady, this is no time for refusing to look facts in the face. We are all in grave danger. One of us is U. N. Owen. And we do not know which of us. Of the ten people who came to this island three are definitely cleared. Anthony Marston, Mrs Rogers, and General Macarthur have gone beyond suspicion. There are seven of us left. Of those seven, one is, if I may so express myself, a bogus little soldier boy.’

  He paused and looked round.

  ‘Do I take it that you all agree?’

  Armstrong said:

  ‘It’s fantastic—but I suppose you’re right.’

  Blore said:

  ‘Not a doubt of it. And if you ask me, I’ve a very good idea—’

  A quick gesture of Mr Justice Wargrave’s hand stopped him. The judge said quietly:

  ‘We will come to that presently. At the moment all I wish to establish is that we are in agreement on the facts.’

  Emily Brent, still knitting, said:

  ‘Your argument seems logical. I agree that one of us is possessed by a devil.’

  Vera murmured:

  ‘I can’t believe it…I can’t…’

  Wargrave said:


  ‘I agree, sir, absolutely.’

  The judge nodded his head in a satisfied manner. He said:

  ‘Now let us examine the evidence. To begin with, is there any reason for suspecting one particular person? Mr Blore, you have, I think, something to say.’

  Blore was breathing hard. He said:

  ‘Lombard’s got a revolver. He didn’t tell the truth—last night. He admits it.’

  Philip Lombard smiled scornfully.

  He said:

  ‘I suppose I’d better explain again.’

  He did so, telling the story briefly and succinctly.

  Blore said sharply:

  ‘What’s to prove it? There’s nothing to corroborate your story.’

  The judge coughed.

  ‘Unfortunately,’ he said, ‘we are all in that position. There is only our own word to go upon.’

  He leaned forward.

  ‘You have none of you yet grasped what a very peculiar situation this is. To my mind there is only one course of procedure to adopt. Is there any one whom we can definitely eliminate from suspicion on the evidence which is in our possession?’

  Dr Armstrong said quickly:

  ‘I, am a well-known professional man. The mere idea that I can be suspected of—’

  Again a gesture of the judge’s hand arrested a speaker before he finished his speech. Mr Justice Wargrave said in his small clear voice:

  ‘I too, am a well-known person! But, my dear sir, that proves less than nothing! Doctors have gone mad before now. Judges have gone mad. So,’ he added, looking at Blore, ‘have policemen!’

  Lombard said:

  ‘At any rate, I suppose you’ll leave the women out of it.’

  The judge’s eyebrows rose. He said in the famous ‘acid’ tones that Counsel knew so well:

  ‘Do I understand you to assert that women are not subject to homicidal mania?’

  Lombard said irritably:

  ‘Of course not. But all the same, it hardly seems possible—’

  He stopped. Mr Justice Wargrave still in the same thin sour voice addressed Armstrong.

  ‘I take it, Dr Armstrong, that a woman would have been physically capable of striking the blow that killed poor Macarthur?’

  The doctor said calmly:

  ‘Perfectly capable—given a suitable instrument, such as a rubber truncheon or cosh.’

  ‘It would require no undue exertion of force?’

  ‘Not at all.’

  Mr Justice Wargrave wriggled his tortoise-like neck. He said:

  ‘The other two deaths have resulted from the admini
stration of drugs. That, no one will dispute, is easily compassed by a person of the smallest physical strength.’

  Vera cried angrily:

  ‘I think you’re mad!’

  His eyes turned slowly till they rested on her. It was the dispassionate stare of a man well used to weighing humanity in the balance. She thought:

  ‘He’s just seeing me as a—as a specimen. And—’ the thought came to her with real surprise, ‘he doesn’t like me much!’

  In a measured tone the judge was saying:

  ‘My dear young lady, do try and restrain your feelings. I am not accusing you.’ He bowed to Miss Brent. ‘I hope, Miss Brent, that you are not offended by my insistence that all of us are equally under suspicion?’

  Emily Brent was knitting. She did not look up. In a cold voice she said:

  ‘The idea that I should be accused of taking a fellow creature’s life—not to speak of the lives of three fellow creatures—is of course, quite absurd to any one who knows anything of my character. But I quite appreciate the fact that we are all strangers to one another and that, in those circumstances, nobody can be exonerated without the fullest proof. There is, as I have said, a devil amongst us.’

  The judge said:

  ‘Then we are agreed. There can be no elimination on the ground of character or position alone.’

  Lombard said: ‘What about Rogers?’

  The judge looked at him unblinkingly.

  ‘What about him?’

  Lombard said:

  ‘Well, to my mind, Rogers seems pretty well ruled out.’

  Mr Justice Wargrave said:

  ‘Indeed, and on what grounds?’

  Lombard said:

  ‘He hasn’t got the brains for one thing. And for another his wife was one of the victims.’

  The judge’s heavy eyebrows rose once more. He said:

  ‘In my time, young man, several people have come before me accused of the murders of their wives—and have been found guilty.’

  ‘Oh! I agree. Wife murder is perfectly possible—almost natural, let’s say! But not this particular kind! I can believe in Rogers killing his wife because he was scared of her breaking down and giving him away, or because he’d taken a dislike to her, or because he wanted to link up with some nice little bit rather less long in the tooth. But I can’t see him as the lunatic Mr Owen dealing out crazy justice and starting on his own wife for a crime they both committed.’

  Mr Justice Wargrave said:

  ‘You are assuming hearsay to be evidence. We do not know that Rogers and his wife conspired to murder their employer. That may have been a false statement, made so that Rogers should appear to be in the same position as ourselves. Mrs Rogers’ terror last night may have been due to the fact that she realized her husband was mentally unhinged.’

  Lombard said:

  ‘Well, have it your own way. U. N. Owen is one of us. No exceptions allowed. We all qualify.’

  Mr Justice Wargrave said:

  ‘My point is that there can be no exceptions allowed on the score of character, position, or probability. What we must now examine is the possibility of eliminating one or more persons on the facts. To put it simply, is there among us one or more persons who could not possibly have administered either cyanide to Anthony Marston, or an overdose of sleeping draught to Mrs Rogers, and who had no opportunity of striking the blow that killed General Macarthur?’

  Blore’s rather heavy face lit up. He leant forward.

  ‘Now you’re talking, sir!’ he said. ‘That’s the stuff! Let’s go into it. As regards young Marston I don’t think there’s anything to be done. It’s already been suggested that someone from outside slipped something into the dregs of his glass before he refilled it for the last time. A person actually in the room could have done that even more easily. I can’t remember if Rogers was in the room, but any of the rest of us could certainly have done it.’

  He paused, then went on:

  ‘Now take the woman Rogers. The people who stand out there are her husband and the doctor. Either of them could have done it as easy as winking—’

  Armstrong sprang to his feet. He was trembling.

  ‘I protest—this is absolutely uncalled for! I swear that the dose I gave the woman was perfectly—’

  ‘Dr Armstrong.’

  The small sour voice was compelling. The doctor stopped with a jerk in the middle of his sentence. The small cold voice went on:

  ‘Your indignation is very natural. Nevertheless you must admit that the facts have got to be faced. Either you or Rogers could have administered a fatal dose with the greatest ease. Let us now consider the position of the other people present. What chance had I, had Inspector Blore, had Miss Brent, had Miss Claythorne, had Mr Lombard of administering poison? Can any one of us be completely and entirely eliminated?’ He paused. ‘I think not.’

  Vera said angrily:

  ‘I was nowhere near the woman! All of you can swear to that.’

  Mr Justice Wargrave waited a minute, then he said:

  ‘As far as my memory serves me the facts were these—will any one please correct me if I make a mis-statement? Mrs Rogers was lifted on to the sofa by Anthony Marston and Mr Lombard and Dr Armstrong went to her. He sent Rogers for brandy. There was then a question raised as to where the voice we had just heard had come from. We all went into the next room with the exception of Miss Brent who remained in this room—alone with the unconscious woman.’

  A spot of colour came into Emily Brent’s cheeks. She stopped knitting. She said:

  ‘This is outrageous!’

  The remorseless small voice went on:

  ‘When we returned to this room, you, Miss Brent, were bending over the woman on the sofa.’

  Emily Brent said:

  ‘Is common humanity a criminal offence?’

  Mr Justice Wargrave said:

  ‘I am only establishing facts. Rogers then entered the room with the brandy which, of course, he could quite well have doctored before entering the room. The brandy was administered to the woman and shortly afterwards her husband and Dr Armstrong assisted her up to bed where Dr Armstrong gave her a sedative.’

  Blore said:

  ‘That’s what happened. Absolutely. And that lets out the judge, Mr Lombard, myself and Miss Claythorne.’

  His voice was loud and jubilant. Mr Justice Wargrave, bringing a cold eye to bear upon him, murmured:

  ‘Ah, but does it? We must take into account every possible eventuality.’

  Blore stared. He said:

  ‘I don’t get you.’

  Mr Justice Wargrave said:

  ‘Upstairs in her room, Mrs Rogers is lying in bed. The sedative that the doctor has given her begins to take effect. She is vaguely sleepy and acquiescent. Supposing that at that moment there is a tap on the door and someone enters bringing her, shall we say, a tablet, or a draught, with the message that “The doctor says you’re to take this.” Do you imagine for one minute that she would not have swallowed it obediently without thinking twice about it?’

  There was a silence. Blore shifted his feet and frowned. Philip Lombard said:

  ‘I don’t believe in that story for a minute. Besides none of us left this room for hours afterwards. There was Marston’s death and all the rest of it.’

  The judge said:

  ‘Someone could have left his or her bedroom—later.’

  Lombard objected:

  ‘But then Rogers would have been up there.’

  Dr Armstrong stirred.

  ‘No,’ he said. ‘Rogers went downstairs to clear up in the dining-room and pantry. Anyone could have gone up to the woman’s bedroom then without being seen.’

  Emily Brent said:

  ‘Surely, doctor, the woman would have been fast asleep by then under the influence of the drug you had administered?’

  ‘In all likelihood, yes. But it is not a certainty. Until you have prescribed for a patient more than once you cannot tell their reaction to different
drugs. There is, sometimes, a considerable period before a sedative takes effect. It depends on the personal idiosyncrasy of the patient towards that particular drug.’

  Lombard said:

  ‘Of course you would say that, doctor. Suits your book—eh?’

  Again Armstrong’s face darkened with anger.

  But again that passionless cold little voice stopped the words on his lips.

  ‘No good result can come from recrimination. Facts are what we have to deal with. It is established, I think, that there is a possibility of such a thing as I have outlined occurring. I agree that its probability value is not high; though there again, it depends on who that person might have been. The appearance of Miss Brent or of Miss Claythorne on such an errand would have occasioned no surprise in the patient’s mind. I agree that the appearance of myself, or of Mr Blore, or of Mr Lombard would have been, to say the least of it, unusual, but I still think the visit would have been received without the awakening of any real suspicion.’

  Blore said:

  ‘And that gets us—where?’


  Mr Justice Wargrave, stroking his lip and looking quite passionless and inhuman, said:

  ‘We have now dealt with the second killing, and have established the fact that no one of us can be completely exonerated from suspicion.’

  He paused and went on.

  ‘We come now to the death of General Macarthur. That took place this morning. I will ask anyone who considers that he or she has an alibi to state it in so many words. I myself will state at once that I have no valid alibi. I spent the morning sitting on the terrace and meditating on the singular position in which we all find ourselves.

  ‘I sat on that chair on the terrace for the whole morning until the gong went, but there were, I should imagine, several periods during the morning when I was quite unobserved and during which it would have been possible for me to walk down to the sea, kill the General, and return to my chair. There is only my word for the fact that I never left the terrace. In the circumstances that is not enough. There must be proof.’

  Blore said:

  ‘I was with Mr Lombard and Dr Armstrong all the morning. They’ll bear me out.’

  Dr Armstrong said:

  ‘You went to the house for a rope.’

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