And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

  With a devastating ear-splitting blast on the horn an enormous Super-Sports Dalmain car rushed past him at eighty miles an hour. Dr Armstrong nearly went into the hedge. One of these young fools who tore round the country. He hated them. That had been a near shave, too. Damned young fool!


  Tony Marston, roaring down into Mere, thought to himself:

  ‘The amount of cars crawling about the roads is frightful. Always something blocking your way. And they will drive in the middle of the road! Pretty hopeless driving in England, anyway…Not like France where you really could let out…’

  Should he stop here for a drink, or push on? Heaps of time! Only another hundred miles and a bit to go. He’d have a gin and ginger beer. Fizzing hot day!

  This island place ought to be rather good fun—if the weather lasted. Who were these Owens, he wondered? Rich and stinking, probably. Badger was rather good at nosing people like that out. Of course, he had to, poor old chap, with no money of his own…

  Hope they’d do one well in drinks. Never knew with these fellows who’d made their money and weren’t born to it. Pity that story about Gabrielle Turl having bought Soldier Island wasn’t true. He’d like to have been in with that film star crowd.

  Oh, well, he supposed there’d be a few girls there…

  Coming out of the hotel, he stretched himself, yawned, looked up at the blue sky and climbed into the Dalmain.

  Several young women looked at him admiringly—his six feet of well-proportioned body, his crisp hair, tanned face, and intensely blue eyes.

  He let in the clutch with a roar and leapt up the narrow street. Old men and errand boys jumped for safety. The latter looked after the car admiringly.

  Anthony Marston proceeded on his triumphal progress.


  Mr Blore was in the slow train from Plymouth. There was only one other person in his carriage, an elderly seafaring gentleman with a bleary eye. At the present moment he had dropped off to sleep.

  Mr Blore was writing carefully in a little notebook.

  ‘That’s the lot,’ he muttered to himself. ‘Emily Brent, Vera Claythorne, Dr Armstrong, Anthony Marston, old Justice Wargrave, Philip Lombard, General Macarthur, C.M.G., D.S.O. Manservant and wife: Mr and Mrs Rogers.’

  He closed the notebook and put it back in his pocket. He glanced over at the corner and the slumbering man.

  ‘Had one over the eight,’ diagnosed Mr Blore accurately.

  He went over things carefully and conscientiously in his mind.

  ‘Job ought to be easy enough,’ he ruminated. ‘Don’t see how I can slip up on it. Hope I look all right.’

  He stood up and scrutinized himself anxiously in the glass. The face reflected there was of a slightly military cast with a moustache. There was very little expression in it. The eyes were grey and set rather close together.

  ‘Might be a Major,’ said Mr Blore. ‘No, I forgot. There’s that old military gent. He’d spot me at once.’

  ‘South Africa,’ said Mr Blore, ‘that’s my line! None of these people have anything to do with South Africa, and I’ve just been reading that travel folder so I can talk about it all right.’

  Fortunately there were all sorts and types of colonials. As a man of means from South Africa, Mr Blore felt that he could enter into any society unchallenged.

  Soldier Island. He remembered Soldier Island as a boy…Smelly sort of rock covered with gulls—stood about a mile from the coast.

  Funny idea to go and build a house on it! Awful in bad weather! But millionaires were full of whims!

  The old man in the corner woke up and said:

  ‘You can’t never tell at sea—never!’

  Mr Blore said soothingly, ‘That’s right. You can’t.’

  The old man hiccupped twice and said plaintively:

  ‘There’s a squall coming.’

  Mr Blore said:

  ‘No, no, mate, it’s a lovely day.’

  The old man said angrily:

  ‘There’s a squall ahead. I can smell it.’

  ‘Maybe you’re right,’ said Mr Blore pacifically.

  The train stopped at a station and the old fellow rose unsteadily.

  ‘Thish where I get out.’ He fumbled with the window. Mr Blore helped him.

  The old man stood in the doorway. He raised a solemn hand and blinked his bleary eyes.

  ‘Watch and pray,’ he said. ‘Watch and pray. The day of judgment is at hand.’

  He collapsed through the doorway on to the platform. From a recumbent position he looked up at Mr Blore and said with immense dignity:

  ‘I’m talking to you, young man. The day of judgment is very close at hand.’

  Subsiding on to his seat Mr Blore thought to himself: He’s nearer the day of judgment than I am!

  But there, as it happens, he was wrong…

  Chapter 2


  Outside Oakbridge station a little group of people stood in momentary uncertainty. Behind them stood porters with suitcases. One of these called, ‘Jim!’

  The driver of one of the taxis stepped forward.

  ‘You’m for Soldier Island, maybe?’ he asked in a soft Devon voice. Four voices gave assent—and then immediately afterwards gave quick surreptitious glances at each other.

  The driver said, addressing his remarks to Mr Justice Wargrave as the senior member of the party:

  ‘There are two taxis here, sir. One of them must wait till the slow train from Exeter gets in—a matter of five minutes—there’s one gentleman coming by that. Perhaps one of you wouldn’t mind waiting? You’d be more comfortable that way.’

  Vera Claythorne, her own secretarial position clear in her mind, spoke at once.

  ‘I’ll wait,’ she said, ‘if you will go on?’ She looked at the other three, her glance and voice had that slight suggestion of command in it that comes from having occupied a position of authority. She might have been directing which tennis sets the girls were to play in.

  Miss Brent said stiffly, ‘Thank you,’ bent her head and entered one of the taxis, the door of which the driver was holding open.

  Mr Justice Wargrave followed her.

  Captain Lombard said:

  ‘I’ll wait with Miss—’

  ‘Claythorne,’ said Vera.

  ‘My name is Lombard, Philip Lombard.’

  The porters were piling luggage on the taxi. Inside, Mr Justice Wargrave said with due legal caution:

  ‘Beautiful weather we are having.’

  Miss Brent said:

  ‘Yes, indeed.’

  A very distinguished old gentleman, she thought to herself. Quite unlike the usual type of man in seaside guest houses. Evidently Mrs or Miss Oliver had good connections…

  Mr Justice Wargrave inquired:

  ‘Do you know this part of the world well?’

  ‘I have been to Cornwall and to Torquay, but this is my first visit to this part of Devon.’

  The judge said:

  ‘I also am unacquainted with this part of the world.’

  The taxi drove off.

  The driver of the second taxi said:

  ‘Like to sit inside while you’re waiting?’

  Vera said decisively:

  ‘Not at all.’

  Captain Lombard smiled. He said:

  ‘That sunny wall looks more attractive. Unless you’d rather go inside the station?’

  ‘No, indeed. It’s so delightful to get out of that stuffy train.’

  He answered:

  ‘Yes, travelling by train is rather trying in this weather.’

  Vera said conventionally:

  ‘I do hope it lasts—the weather, I mean. Our English summers are so treacherous.’

  With a slight lack of originality Lombard asked:

  ‘Do you know this part of the world well?’

  ‘No, I’ve never been here before.’ She added quickly, conscientiously determined to make her position clear at once, ‘I haven’t even seen my em
ployer yet.’

  ‘Your employer?’

  ‘Yes, I’m Mrs Owen’s secretary.’

  ‘Oh, I see.’ Just imperceptibly his manner changed. It was slightly more assured—easier in tone. He said: ‘Isn’t that rather unusual?’

  Vera laughed.

  ‘Oh, no, I don’t think so. Her own secretary was suddenly taken ill and she wired to an agency for a substitute and they sent me.’

  ‘So that was it. And suppose you don’t like the post when you’ve got there?’

  Vera laughed again.

  ‘Oh, it’s only temporary—a holiday post. I’ve got a permanent job at a girls’ school. As a matter of fact, I’m frightfully thrilled at the prospect of seeing Soldier Island. There’s been such a lot about it in the papers. Is it really very fascinating?’

  Lombard said:

  ‘I don’t know. I haven’t seen it.’

  ‘Oh, really? The Owens are frightfully keen on it, I suppose. What are they like? Do tell me.’

  Lombard thought: Awkward, this—am I supposed to have met them or not? He said quickly:

  ‘There’s a wasp crawling up your arm. No—keep quite still.’ He made a convincing pounce. ‘There. It’s gone!’

  ‘Oh, thank you. There are a lot of wasps about this summer.’

  ‘Yes, I suppose it’s the heat. Who are we waiting for, do you know?’

  ‘I haven’t the least idea.’

  The loud drawn-out scream of an approaching train was heard. Lombard said:

  ‘That will be the train now.’

  It was a tall soldierly old man who appeared at the exit from the platform. His grey hair was clipped close and he had a neatly trimmed white moustache.

  His porter, staggering slightly under the weight of the solid leather suitcase, indicated Vera and Lombard.

  Vera came forward in a competent manner. She said:

  ‘I am Mrs Owen’s secretary. There is a car here waiting.’ She added, ‘This is Mr Lombard.’

  The faded blue eyes, shrewd in spite of their age, sized up Lombard. For a moment a judgment showed in them—had there been any one to read it.

  ‘Good-looking fellow. Something just a little wrong about him…’

  The three of them got into the waiting taxi. They drove through the sleepy streets of little Oakbridge and continued about a mile on the main Plymouth road. Then they plunged into a maze of cross-country lanes, steep, green and narrow.

  General Macarthur said:

  ‘Don’t know this part of Devon at all. My little place is in East Devon—just on the border-line of Dorset.’

  Vera said:

  ‘It really is lovely here. The hills and the red earth and everything so green and luscious-looking.’

  Philip Lombard said critically:

  ‘It’s a bit shut in…I like open country myself. Where you can see what’s coming…’

  General Macarthur said to him:

  ‘You’ve seen a bit of the world, I fancy?’

  Lombard shrugged his shoulders disparagingly.

  ‘I’ve knocked about here and there, sir.’

  He thought to himself: ‘He’ll ask me now if I was old enough to be in the War. These old boys always do.’

  But General Macarthur did not mention the War.


  They came up over a steep hill and down a zigzag track to Sticklehaven—a mere cluster of cottages with a fishing boat or two drawn up on the beach.

  Illuminated by the setting sun, they had their first glimpse of Soldier Island jutting up out of the sea to the south.

  Vera said, surprised:

  ‘It’s a long way out.’

  She had pictured it differently, close to shore, crowned with a beautiful white house. But there was no house visible, only the boldly silhouetted rock with its faint resemblance to a giant head. There was something sinister about it. She shivered faintly.

  Outside a little inn, the Seven Stars, three people were sitting. There was the hunched elderly figure of the judge, the upright form of Miss Brent, and a third man—a big bluff man who came forward and introduced himself.

  ‘Thought we might as well wait for you,’ he said. ‘Make one trip of it. Allow me to introduce myself. Name’s Davis. Natal, South Africa’s my natal spot, ha, ha!’

  He laughed breezily.

  Mr Justice Wargrave looked at him with active malevolence. He seemed to be wishing that he could order the court to be cleared. Miss Emily Brent was clearly not sure if she liked Colonials.

  ‘Any one care for a little nip before we embark?’ asked Mr Davis hospitably.

  Nobody assenting to this proposition, Mr Davis turned and held up a finger.

  ‘Mustn’t delay, then. Our good host and hostess will be expecting us,’ he said.

  He might have noticed that a curious constraint came over the other members of the party. It was as though the mention of their host and hostess had a curiously paralysing effect upon the guests.

  In response to Davis’s beckoning finger, a man detached himself from a nearby wall against which he was leaning and came up to them. His rolling gait proclaimed him as a man of the sea. He had a weather-beaten face and dark eyes with a slightly evasive expression. He spoke in his soft Devon voice.

  ‘Will you be ready to be starting for the island, ladies and gentlemen? The boat’s waiting. There’s two gentlemen coming by car but Mr Owen’s orders was not to wait for them as they might arrive at any time.’

  The party got up. Their guide led them along a small stone jetty. Alongside it a motor boat was lying.

  Emily Brent said:

  ‘That’s a very small boat.’

  The boat’s owner said persuasively:

  ‘She’s a fine boat that, Ma’am. You could go to Plymouth in her as easy as winking.’

  Mr Justice Wargrave said sharply:

  ‘There are a good many of us.’

  ‘She’d take double the number, sir.’

  Philip Lombard said in his pleasant easy voice:

  ‘It’s quite all right. Glorious weather—no swell.’

  Rather doubtfully, Miss Brent permitted herself to be helped into the boat. The others followed suit. There was as yet no fraternizing among the party. It was as though each member of it was puzzled by the other members.

  They were just about to cast loose when their guide paused, boat-hook in hand.

  Down the steep track into the village a car was coming. A car so fantastically powerful, so superlatively beautiful that it had all the nature of an apparition. At the wheel sat a young man, his hair blown back by the wind. In the blaze of the evening light he looked, not a man, but a young God, a Hero God out of some Northern Saga.

  He touched the horn and a great roar of sound echoed from the rocks of the bay.

  It was a fantastic moment. In it, Anthony Marston seemed to be something more than mortal. Afterwards more than one of those present remembered that moment.


  Fred Narracott sat by the engine thinking to himself that this was a queer lot. Not at all his idea of what Mr Owen’s guests were likely to be. He’d expected something altogether more classy. Togged up women and gentlemen in yachting costume and all very rich and important-looking.

  Not at all like Mr Elmer Robson’s parties. A faint grin came to Fred Narracott’s lips as he remembered the millionaire’s guests. That had been a party if you like—and the drink they’d got through!

  This Mr Owen must be a very different sort of gentleman. Funny, it was, thought Fred, that he’d never yet set eyes on Owen—or his Missus either. Never been down here yet he hadn’t. Everything ordered and paid for by that Mr Morris. Instructions always very clear and payment prompt, but it was odd, all the same. The papers said there was some mystery about Owen. Mr Narracott agreed with them.

  Perhaps after all, it was Miss Gabrielle Turl who had bought the island. But that theory departed from him as he surveyed his passengers. Not this lot—none of them looked likely to have anything to do with
a film star.

  He summed them up dispassionately.

  One old maid—the sour kind—he knew them well enough. She was a tartar he could bet. Old military gentleman—real Army look about him. Nice-looking young lady—but the ordinary kind, not glamorous—no Hollywood touch about her. That bluff cheery gent—he wasn’t a real gentleman. Retired tradesman, that’s what he is, thought Fred Narracott. The other gentleman, the lean hungry-looking gentleman with the quick eyes, he was a queer one, he was. Just possible he might have something to do with the pictures.

  No, there was only one satisfactory passenger in the boat. The last gentleman, the one who had arrived in the car (and what a car! A car such as had never been seen in Sticklehaven before. Must have cost hundreds and hundreds, a car like that). He was the right kind. Born to money, he was. If the party had been all like him…he’d understand it…

  Queer business when you came to think of it—the whole thing was queer—very queer…


  The boat churned its way round the rock. Now at last the house came into view. The south side of the island was quite different. It shelved gently down to the sea. The house was there facing south—low and square and modern-looking with rounded windows letting in all the light.

  An exciting house—a house that lived up to expectation!

  Fred Narracott shut off the engine, they nosed their way gently into a little natural inlet between rocks.

  Philip Lombard said sharply:

  ‘Must be difficult to land here in dirty weather.’

  Fred Narracott said cheerfully:

  ‘Can’t land on Soldier Island when there’s a south-easterly. Sometimes ’tis cut off for a week or more.’

  Vera Claythorne thought:

  ‘The catering must be very difficult. That’s the worst of an island. All the domestic problems are so worrying.’

  The boat grated against the rocks. Fred Narracott jumped out and he and Lombard helped the others to alight. Narracott made the boat fast to a ring in the rock. Then he led the way up steps cut in the cliff.

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