And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie


  Aeons passed…worlds spun and whirled…Time was motionless…It stood still—it passed through a thousand ages…

  No, it was only a minute or so…

  Two people were standing looking down on a dead man…

  Slowly, very slowly, Vera Claythorne and Philip Lombard lifted their heads and looked into each other’s eyes…


  Lombard laughed.

  He said:

  ‘So that’s it, is it, Vera?’

  Vera said:

  ‘There’s no one on the island—no one at all—except us two…’

  Her voice was a whisper—nothing more.

  Lombard said:

  ‘Precisely. So we know where we are, don’t we?’

  Vera said:

  ‘How was it worked—that trick with the marble bear?’

  He shrugged his shoulders.

  ‘A conjuring trick, my dear—a very good one…’

  Their eyes met again.

  Vera thought:

  ‘Why did I never see his face properly before? A wolf—that’s what it is—a wolf’s face…Those horrible teeth…’

  Lombard said, and his voice was a snarl—dangerous—menacing:

  ‘This is the end, you understand. We’ve come to the truth now. And it’s the end…’

  Vera said quietly:

  ‘I understand…’

  She stared out to sea. General Macarthur had stared out to sea—when—only yesterday? Or was it the day before? He too had said, ‘This is the end…’

  He had said it with acceptance—almost with welcome.

  But to Vera the words—the thought—brought rebellion.

  No, it should not be the end.

  She looked down at the dead man. She said:

  ‘Poor Dr Armstrong…’

  Lombard sneered.

  He said:

  ‘What’s this? Womanly pity?’

  Vera said:

  ‘Why not? Haven’t you any pity?’

  He said:

  ‘I’ve no pity for you. Don’t expect it!’

  Vera looked down again at the body. She said:

  ‘We must move him. Carry him up to the house.’

  ‘To join the other victims, I suppose? All neat and tidy. As far as I’m concerned he can stay where he is.’

  Vera said:

  ‘At any rate let’s get him out of the reach of the sea.’

  Lombard laughed. He said:

  ‘If you like.’

  He bent—tugging at the body. Vera leaned against him, helping him. She pulled and tugged with all her might.

  Lombard panted:

  ‘Not such an easy job.’

  They managed it, however, drawing the body clear of high water mark.

  Lombard said as he straightened up:


  Vera said:


  Her tone warned him. He spun round. Even as he clapped his hand to his pocket he knew that he would find it empty.

  She had moved a yard or two away and was facing him, revolver in hand.

  Lombard said:

  ‘So that’s the reason for your womanly solicitude! You wanted to pick my pocket.’

  She nodded.

  She held it steadily and unwaveringly.

  Death was very near to Philip Lombard now. It had never, he knew, been nearer.

  Nevertheless he was not beaten yet.

  He said authoritatively:

  ‘Give that revolver to me.’

  Vera laughed.

  Lombard said:

  ‘Come on, hand it over.’

  His quick brain was working. Which way—which method—talk her over—lull her into security or a swift dash—

  All his life Lombard had taken the risky way. He took it now.

  He spoke slowly, argumentatively:

  ‘Now look here, my dear girl, you just listen—’

  And then he sprang. Quick as a panther—as any other feline creature…

  Automatically Vera pressed the trigger…

  Lombard’s leaping body stayed poised in mid-spring then crashed heavily to the ground.

  Vera came warily forward, the revolver ready in her hand.

  But there was no need of caution.

  Philip Lombard was dead—shot through the heart…


  Relief possessed Vera—enormous exquisite relief.

  At last it was over.

  There was no more fear—no more steeling of her nerves…

  She was alone on the island…

  Alone with nine dead bodies…

  But what did that matter? She was alive…

  She sat there—exquisitely happy—exquisitely at peace…

  No more fear…


  The sun was setting when Vera moved at last. Sheer reaction had kept her immobile. There had been no room in her for anything but the glorious sense of safety.

  She realized now that she was hungry and sleepy. Principally sleepy. She wanted to throw herself on her bed and sleep and sleep and sleep…

  Tomorrow, perhaps, they would come and rescue her—but she didn’t really mind. She didn’t mind staying here. Not now that she was alone…

  Oh! blessed, blessed peace…

  She got to her feet and glanced up at the house.

  Nothing to be afraid of any longer! No terrors waiting for her! Just an ordinary well-built modern house. And yet, a little earlier in the day, she had not been able to look at it without shivering…

  Fear—what a strange thing fear was…

  Well, it was over now. She had conquered—had triumphed over the most deadly peril. By her own quick-wittedness and adroitness she had turned the tables on her would-be destroyer.

  She began to walk up towards the house.

  The sun was setting, the sky to the west was streaked with red and orange. It was beautiful and peaceful…

  Vera thought:

  ‘The whole thing might be a dream…’

  How tired she was—terribly tired. Her limbs ached, her eyelids were dropping. Not to be afraid any more…To sleep. Sleep…sleep…sleep…

  To sleep safely since she was alone on the island. One little soldier boy left all alone.

  She smiled to herself.

  She went in at the front door. The house, too, felt strangely peaceful.

  Vera thought:

  ‘Ordinarily one wouldn’t care to sleep where there’s a dead body in practically every bedroom!’

  Should she go to the kitchen and get herself something to eat?

  She hesitated a moment, then decided against it. She was really too tired…

  She paused by the dining-room door. There were still three little china figures in the middle of the table.

  Vera laughed.

  She said:

  ‘You’re behind the times, my dears.’

  She picked up two of them and tossed them out through the window. She heard them crash on the stone of the terrace.

  The third little figure she picked up and held in her hand. She said:

  ‘You can come with me. We’ve won, my dear! We’ve won!’

  The hall was dim in the dying light.

  Vera, the little soldier clasped in her hand, began to mount the stairs. Slowly, because her legs were suddenly very tired.

  ‘One little soldier boy left all alone.’ How did it end? Oh, yes! ‘He got married and then there were none.’

  Married…Funny, how she suddenly got the feeling again that Hugo was in the house…

  Very strong. Yes, Hugo was upstairs waiting for her.

  Vera said to herself:

  ‘Don’t be a fool. You’re so tired that you’re imagining the most fantastic things…’

  Slowly up the stairs…

  At the top of them something fell from her hand making hardly any noise on the soft pile carpet. She did not notice that she had dropped the revolver. She was only conscious of clasping a little china figure.
r />
  How very quiet the house was. And yet—it didn’t seem like an empty house…

  Hugo, upstairs, waiting for her…

  ‘One little soldier boy left all alone.’ What was the last line again? Something about being married—or was it something else?

  She had come now to the door of her room. Hugo was waiting for her inside—she was quite sure of it.

  She opened the door…

  She gave a gasp…

  What was that—hanging from the hook in the ceiling? A rope with a noose all ready? And a chair to stand upon—a chair that could be kicked away…

  That was what Hugo wanted…

  And of course that was the last line of the rhyme.

  ‘He went and hanged himself and then there were None…’

  The little china figure fell from her hand. It rolled unheeded and broke against the fender.

  Like an automaton Vera moved forward. This was the end—here where the cold wet hand (Cyril’s hand, of course) had touched her throat…

  ‘You can go to the rock, Cyril…’

  That was what murder was—as easy as that!

  But afterwards you went on remembering…

  She climbed up on the chair, her eyes staring in front of her like a sleepwalker’s…She adjusted the noose round her neck.

  Hugo was there to see she did what she had to do.

  She kicked away the chair…


  Sir Thomas Legge, Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, said irritably:

  ‘But the whole thing’s incredible!’

  Inspector Maine said respectfully:

  ‘I know, sir.’

  The AC went on:

  ‘Ten people dead on an island and not a living soul on it. It doesn’t make sense!’

  Inspector Maine said stolidly:

  ‘Nevertheless, it happened, sir.’

  Sir Thomas Legge said:

  ‘Dam’ it all, Maine, somebody must have killed ’em.’

  ‘That’s just our problem, sir.’

  ‘Nothing helpful in the doctor’s report?’

  ‘No, sir. Wargrave and Lombard were shot, the first through the head, the second through the heart. Miss Brent and Marston died of cyanide poisoning. Mrs Rogers died of an overdose of chloral. Rogers’ head was split open. Blore’s head was crushed in. Armstrong died of drowning. Macarthur’s skull was fractured by a blow on the back of the head and Vera Claythorne was hanged.’

  The AC winced. He said:

  ‘Nasty business—all of it.’

  He considered for a minute or two. He said irritably:

  ‘Do you mean to say that you haven’t been able to get anything helpful out of the Sticklehaven people? Dash it, they must know something.’

  Inspector Maine shrugged his shoulders.

  ‘They’re ordinary decent seafaring folk. They know that the island was bought by a man called Owen—and that’s about all they do know.’

  ‘Who provisioned the island and made all the necessary arrangements?’

  ‘Man called Morris. Isaac Morris.’

  ‘And what does he say about it all?’

  ‘He can’t say anything, sir, he’s dead.’

  The AC frowned.

  ‘Do we know anything about this Morris?’

  ‘Oh yes, sir, we know about him. He wasn’t a very savoury gentleman, Mr Morris. He was implicated in that share-pushing fraud of Bennito’s three years ago —we’re sure of that though we can’t prove it. And he was mixed up in the dope business. And again we can’t prove it. He was a very careful man, Morris.’

  ‘And he was behind this island business?’

  ‘Yes, sir, he put through the sale—though he made it clear that he was buying Soldier Island for a third party, unnamed.’

  ‘Surely there’s something to be found out on the financial angle, there?’

  Inspector Maine smiled.

  ‘Not if you knew Morris! He can wangle figures until the best chartered accountant in the country wouldn’t know if he was on his head or his heels! We’ve had a taste of that in the Bennito business. No, he covered his employer’s tracks all right.’

  The other man sighed. Inspector Maine went on:

  ‘It was Morris who made all the arrangements down at Sticklehaven. Represented himself as acting for “Mr Owen”. And it was he who explained to the people down there that there was some experiment on—some bet about living on a “desert island” for a week—and that no notice was to be taken of any appeal for help from out there.’

  Sir Thomas Legge stirred uneasily. He said:

  ‘And you’re telling me that those people didn’t smell a rat? Not even then?’

  Maine shrugged his shoulders. He said:

  ‘You’re forgetting, sir, that Soldier Island previously belonged to young Elmer Robson, the American. He had the most extraordinary parties down there. I’ve no doubt the local people’s eyes fairly popped out over them. But they got used to it and they’d begun to feel that anything to do with Soldier Island would necessarily be incredible. It’s natural, that, sir, when you come to think of it.’

  The Assistant Commissioner admitted gloomily that he supposed it was.

  Maine said:

  ‘Fred Narracott—that’s the man who took the party out there—did say one thing that was illuminating. He said he was surprised to see what sort of people these were. “Not at all like Mr Robson’s parties.” I think it was the fact that they were all so normal and so quiet that made him override Morris’s orders and take out a boat to the island after he’d heard about the SOS signals.’

  ‘When did he and the other men go?’

  ‘The signals were seen by a party of boy scouts on the morning of the 11th. There was no possibility of getting out there that day. The men got there on the afternoon of the 12th at the first moment possible to run a boat ashore there. They’re all quite positive that nobody could have left the island before they got there. There was a big sea on after the storm.’

  ‘Couldn’t someone have swum ashore?’

  ‘It’s over a mile to the coast and there were heavy seas and big breakers inshore. And there were a lot of people, boy scouts and others on the cliffs looking out towards the island and watching.’

  The AC sighed. He said:

  ‘What about that gramophone record you found in the house? Couldn’t you get hold of anything there that might help?’

  Inspector Maine said:

  ‘I’ve been into that. It was supplied by a firm that do a lot of theatrical stuff and film effects. It was sent toU. N. Owen Esq., c/o Isaac Morris, and was understood to be required for the amateur performance of a hitherto unacted play. The typescript of it was returned with the record.’

  Legge said:

  ‘And what about the subject matter, eh?’

  Inspector Maine said gravely:

  ‘I’m coming to that, sir.’

  He cleared his throat.

  ‘I’ve investigated those accusations as thoroughly as I can.

  ‘Starting with the Rogerses who were the first to arrive on the island. They were in service with a Miss Brady who died suddenly. Can’t get anything definite out of the doctor who attended her. He says they certainly didn’t poison her, or anything like that, but his personal belief is that there was some funny business—that she died as the result of neglect on their part. Says it’s the sort of thing that’s quite impossible to prove.

  ‘Then there is Mr Justice Wargrave. That’s OK. He was the judge who sentenced Seton.

  ‘By the way, Seton was guilty—unmistakably guilty. Evidence turned up later, after he was hanged, which proved that beyond any shadow of doubt. But there was a good deal of comment at the time—nine people out of ten thought Seton was innocent and that the judge’s summing up had been vindictive.

  ‘The Claythorne girl, I find, was governess in a family where a death occurred by drowning. However, she doesn’t seem to have had anything to do with it, and as a matter of fact sh
e behaved very well, swam out to the rescue and was actually carried out to sea and only just rescued in time.’

  ‘Go on,’ said the AC with a sigh.

  Maine took a deep breath.

  ‘Dr Armstrong now. Well-known man. Had a consulting-room in Harley Street. Absolutely straight and above-board in his profession. Haven’t been able to trace any record of an illegal operation or anything of that kind. It’s true that there was a woman called Clees who was operated on by him way back in 1925 at Leithmore, when he was attached to the hospital there. Peritonitis and she died on the operating-table. Maybe he wasn’t very skilful over the op—after all he hadn’t much experience—but after all clumsiness isn’t a criminal offence. There was certainly no motive.

  ‘Then there’s Miss Emily Brent. Girl, Beatrice Taylor, was in service with her. Got pregnant, was turned out by her mistress and went and drowned herself. Not a nice business—but again not criminal.’

  ‘That,’ said the AC, ‘seems to be the point. U. N. Owen dealt with cases that the law couldn’t touch.’

  Maine went stolidly on with his list.

  ‘Young Marston was a fairly reckless car driver—had his licence endorsed twice and he ought to have been prohibited from driving in my opinion. That’s all there is to him. The two names John and Lucy Combes were those of two kids he knocked down and killed near Cambridge. Some friends of his gave evidence for him and he was let off with a fine.

  ‘Can’t find anything definite about General Macarthur. Fine record—war service—all the rest of it. Arthur Richmond was serving under him in France and was killed in action. No friction of any kind between him and the General. They were close friends as a matter of fact. There were some blunders made about that time—commanding officers sacrificed men unnecessarily—possibly this was a blunder of that kind.’

  ‘Possibly,’ said the AC.

  ‘Now, Philip Lombard. Lombard has been mixed up in some very curious shows abroad. He’s sailed very near the law once or twice. Got a reputation for daring and for not being over-scrupulous. Sort of fellow who might do several murders in some quiet out of the way spot.

  ‘Then we come to Blore.’ Maine hesitated. ‘He of course was one of our lot.’

  The other man stirred.

  ‘Blore,’ said the Assistant Commissioner forcibly, ‘was a bad hat!’

  ‘You think so, sir?’

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