And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie


  I may say that I watched the faces of my guests closely during that indictment and I had no doubt whatever, after my long court experience, that one and all were guilty.

  During recent bouts of pain, I had been ordered a sleeping draught—Chloral Hydrate. It had been easy for me to suppress this until I had a lethal amount in my possession. When Rogers brought up some brandy for his wife, he set it down on a table and in passing that table I put the stuff into the brandy. It was easy, for at that time suspicion had not begun to set in.

  General Macarthur met his death quite painlessly. He did not hear me come up behind him. I had, of course, to choose my time for leaving the terrace very carefully, but everything was successful.

  As I had anticipated, a search was made of the island and it was discovered that there was no one on it but our seven selves. That at once created an atmosphere of suspicion. According to my plan I should shortly need an ally. I selected Dr Armstrong for that part. He was a gullible sort of man, he knew me by sight and reputation and it was inconceivable to him that a man of my standing should actually be a murderer! All his suspicions were directed against Lombard and I pretended to concur in these. I hinted to him that I had a scheme by which it might be possible to trap the murderer into incriminating himself.

  Though a search had been made of everyone’s room, no search had as yet been made of the persons themselves. But that was bound to come soon.

  I killed Rogers on the morning of August 10th. He was chopping sticks for lighting the fire and did not hear me approach. I found the key to the dining-room door in his pocket. He had locked it the night before.

  In the confusion attending the finding of Rogers’ body I slipped into Lombard’s room and abstracted his revolver. I knew that he would have one with him—in fact I had instructed Morris to suggest as much when he interviewed him.

  At breakfast I slipped my last dose of chloral into Miss Brent’s coffee when I was refilling her cup. We left her in the dining-room. I slipped in there a little while later—she was nearly unconscious and it was easy to inject a strong solution of cyanide into her. The bumble bee business was really rather childish—but somehow, you know, it pleased me. I liked adhering as closely as possible to my nursery rhyme.

  Immediately after this what I had already foreseen happened—indeed I believe I suggested it myself. We all submitted to a rigorous search. I had safely hidden away the revolver, and had no more cyanide or chloral in my possession.

  It was then that I intimated to Armstrong that we must carry our plan into effect. It was simply this—I must appear to be the next victim. That would perhaps rattle the murderer—at any rate once I was supposed to be dead I could move about the house and spy upon the unknown murderer.

  Armstrong was keen on the idea. We carried it out that evening. A little plaster of red mud on the forehead—the red curtain and the wool and the stage was set. The lights of the candles were very flickering and uncertain and the only person who would examine me closely was Armstrong.

  It worked perfectly. Miss Claythorne screamed the house down when she found the seaweed which I had thoughtfully arranged in her room. They all rushed up, and I took up my pose of a murdered man.

  The effect on them when they found me was all that could be desired. Armstrong acted his part in the most professional manner. They carried me upstairs and laid me on my bed. Nobody worried about me, they were all too deadly scared and terrified of each other.

  I had a rendezvous with Armstrong outside the house at a quarter to two. I took him up a little way behind the house on the edge of the cliff. I said that here we could see if any one else approached us, and we should not be seen from the house as the bedrooms faced the other way. He was still quite unsuspicious—and yet he ought to have been warned—if he had only remembered the words of the nursery rhyme. ‘A red herring swallowed one…’ He took the red herring all right.

  It was quite easy. I uttered an exclamation, leant over the cliff, told him to look, wasn’t that the mouth of a cave? He leant right over. A quick vigorous push sent him off his balance and splash into the heaving sea below. I returned to the house. It must have been my footfall that Blore heard. A few minutes after I had returned to Armstrong’s room I left it, this time making a certain amount of noise so that someone should hear me. I heard a door open as I got to the bottom of the stairs. They must have just glimpsed my figure as I went out of the front door.

  It was a minute or two before they followed me. I had gone straight round the house and in at the dining-room window which I had left open. I shut the window and later I broke the glass. Then I went upstairs and laid myself out again on my bed.

  I calculated that they would search the house again, but I did not think they would look closely at any of the corpses, a mere twitch aside of the sheet to satisfy themselves that it was not Armstrong masquerading as a body. This is exactly what occurred.

  I forgot to say that I returned the revolver to Lombard’s room. It may be of interest to someone to know where it was hidden during the search. There was a big pile of tinned food in the larder. I opened the bottommost of the tins—biscuits I think it contained, bedded in the revolver and replaced the strip of adhesive tape.

  I calculated, and rightly, that no one would think of working their way through a pile of apparently untouched foodstuffs, especially as all the top tins were soldered.

  The red curtain I had concealed by laying it flat on the seat of one of the drawing-room chairs under the chintz cover and the wool in the seat cushion, cutting a small hole.

  And now came the moment that I had anticipated—three people who were so frightened of each other that anything might happen—and one of them had a revolver. I watched them from the windows of the house. When Blore came up alone I had the big marble clock poised ready. Exit Blore…

  From my window I saw Vera Claythorne shoot Lombard. A daring and resourceful young woman. I always thought she was a match for him and more. As soon as that had happened I set the stage in her bedroom.

  It was an interesting psychological experiment. Would the consciousness of her own guilt, the state of nervous tension consequent on having just shot a man, be sufficient, together with the hypnotic suggestion of the surroundings, to cause her to take her own life? I thought it would. I was right. Vera Claythorne hanged herself before my eyes where I stood in the shadow of the wardrobe.

  And now for the last stage. I came forward, picked up the chair and set it against the wall. I looked for the revolver and found it at the top of the stairs where the girl had dropped it. I was careful to preserve her fingerprints on it.

  And now?

  I shall finish writing this. I shall enclose it and seal it in a bottle and I shall throw the bottle into the sea.

  Why?

  Yes, why?

  It was my ambition to invent a murder mystery that no one could solve.

  But no artist, I now realize, can be satisfied with art alone. There is a natural craving for recognition which cannot be gainsaid.

  I have, let me confess it in all humility, a pitiful human wish that someone should know just how clever I have been…

  In all this, I have assumed that the mystery of Soldier Island will remain unsolved. It may be, of course, that the police will be cleverer than I think. There are, after all, three clues. One: the police are perfectly aware that Edward Seton was guilty. They know, therefore, that one of the ten people on the island was not a murderer in any sense of the word, and it follows, paradoxically, that that person must logically be the murderer. The second clue lies in the seventh verse of the nursery rhyme. Armstrong’s death is associated with a ‘red herring’ which he swallowed—or rather which resulted in swallowing him! That is to say that at that stage of the affair some hocus-pocus is clearly indicated—and that Armstrong was deceived by it and sent to his death. That might start a promising line of inquiry. For at that period there are only four persons and of those four I am clearly the only one likely to inspire him with
confidence.

  The third is symbolical. The manner of my death marking me on the forehead. The brand of Cain.

  There is, I think, little more to say.

  After entrusting my bottle and its message to the sea I shall go to my room and lay myself down on the bed. To my eyeglasses is attached what seems a length of fine black cord—but it is elastic cord. I shall lay the weight of the body on the glasses. The cord I shall loop round the door-handle and attach it, not too solidly, to the revolver. What I think will happen is this.

  My hand, protected with a handkerchief, will press the trigger. My hand will fall to my side, the revolver, pulled by the elastic, will recoil to the door, jarred by the door-handle it will detach itself from the elastic and fall. The elastic, released, will hang down innocently from the eyeglasses on which my body is lying. A handkerchief lying on the floor will cause no comment whatever.

  I shall be found, laid neatly on my bed, shot through the forehead in accordance with the record kept by my fellow victims. Times of death cannot be stated with any accuracy by the time our bodies are examined.

  When the sea goes down, there will come from the mainland boats and men.

  And they will find ten dead bodies and an unsolved problem on Soldier Island.

  Signed:

  Lawrence Wargrave.

  About Agatha Christie

  Agatha Christie is known throughout the world as the Queen of Crime. Her books have sold over a billion copies in English and another billion in 100 foreign languages. She is the most widely published author of all time and in any language, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Mrs Christie is the author of eighty crime novels and short story collections, nineteen plays, and six novels written under the name of Mary Westmacott.

  Agatha Christie’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was written towards the end of World War I (during which she served in the Voluntary Aid Detachments). In it she created Hercule Poirot, the little Belgian investigator who was destined to become the most popular detective in crime fiction since Sherlock Holmes. After having been rejected by a number of houses, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was eventually published by The Bodley Head in 1920.

  In 1926, now averaging a book a year, Agatha Christie wrote her masterpiece. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was the first of her books to be published by William Collins and marked the beginning of an author-publisher relationship that lasted for fifty years and produced over seventy books. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was also the first of Agatha Christie’s works to be dramatised—as Alibi—and to have a successful run in London’s West End. The Mousetrap, her most famous play, opened in 1952 and runs to this day at St Martin’s Theatre in the West End; it is the longest-running play in history.

  Agatha Christie was made a Dame in 1971. She died in 1976, since when a number of her books have been published: the bestselling novel Sleeping Murder appeared in 1976, followed by An Autobiography and the short story collections Miss Marple’s Final Cases; Problem at Pollensa Bay; and While the Light Lasts. In 1998, Black Coffee was the first of her plays to be novelised by Charles Osborne, Mrs Christie’s biographer.

  Credits

  Cover by designedbydavid.co.uk © HarperCollins/Agatha Christie Ltd 2008

  The Agatha Christie Collection

  Christie Crime Classics

  The Man in the Brown Suit

  The Secret of Chimneys

  The Seven Dials Mystery

  The Mysterious Mr Quin

  The Sittaford Mystery

  The Hound of Death

  The Listerdale Mystery

  Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?

  Parker Pyne Investigates

  Murder Is Easy

  And Then There Were None

  Towards Zero

  Death Comes as the End

  Sparkling Cyanide

  Crooked House

  They Came to Baghdad

  Destination Unknown

  Spider’s Web *

  The Unexpected Guest *

  Ordeal by Innocence

  The Pale Horse

  Endless Night

  Passenger To Frankfurt

  Problem at Pollensa Bay

  While the Light Lasts

  Hercule Poirot Investigates

  The Mysterious Affair at Styles

  The Murder on the Links

  Poirot Investigates

  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

  The Big Four

  The Mystery of the Blue Train

  Black Coffee *

  Peril at End House

  Lord Edgware Dies

  Murder on the Orient Express

  Three-Act Tragedy

  Death in the Clouds

  The ABC Murders

  Murder in Mesopotamia

  Cards on the Table

  Murder in the Mews

  Dumb Witness

  Death on the Nile

  Appointment with Death

  Hercule Poirot’s Christmas

  Sad Cypress

  One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

  Evil Under the Sun

  Five Little Pigs

  The Hollow

  The Labours of Hercules

  Taken at the Flood

  Mrs McGinty’s Dead

  After the Funeral

  Hickory Dickory Dock

  Dead Man’s Folly

  Cat Among the Pigeons

  The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding

  The Clocks

  Third Girl

  Hallowe’en Party

  Elephants Can Remember

  Poirot’s Early Cases

  Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case

  Miss Marple Mysteries

  The Murder at the Vicarage

  The Thirteen Problems

  The Body in the Library

  The Moving Finger

  A Murder Is Announced

  They Do It with Mirrors

  A Pocket Full of Rye

  4.50 from Paddington

  The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side

  A Caribbean Mystery

  At Bertram’s Hotel

  Nemesis

  Sleeping Murder

  Miss Marple’s Final Cases

  Tommy & Tuppence

  The Secret Adversary

  Partners in Crime

  Nor M?

  By the Pricking of My Thumbs

  Postern of Fate

  Published as Mary Westmacott

  Giant’s Bread

  Unfinished Portrait

  Absent in the Spring

  The Rose and the Yew Tree

  A Daughter’s a Daughter

  The Burden

  Memoirs

  An Autobiography

  Come, Tell Me How You Live

  Play Collections

  The Mousetrap and Selected Plays

  Witness for the Prosecution and Selected Plays

  * novelised by Charles Osborne

  www.agathachristie.com

  For more information about Agatha Christie, please visit the official website.

  Copyright

  This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are drawn from the authors’ imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. Copyright © 1939 Agatha Christie Limited (a Chorion company). All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

  ePub edition March 2008 ISBN 9780061739255

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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  Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None

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