And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

  Then, when plates were cleared, Dr Armstrong moved back his chair a little, cleared his throat importantly and spoke.

  He said:

  ‘I thought it better to wait until you had had your breakfast before telling you of a sad piece of news. Mrs Rogers died in her sleep.’

  There were startled and shocked ejaculations.

  Vera exclaimed:

  ‘How awful! Two deaths on this island since we arrived!’

  Mr Justice Wargrave, his eyes narrowed, said in his small precise clear voice:

  ‘H’m—very remarkable—what was the cause of death?’

  Armstrong shrugged his shoulders.

  ‘Impossible to say offhand.’

  ‘There must be an autopsy?’

  ‘I certainly couldn’t give a certificate. I have no knowledge whatsoever of the woman’s state of health.’

  Vera said:

  ‘She was a very nervous-looking creature. And she had a shock last night. It might have been heart failure, I suppose?’

  Dr Armstrong said dryly:

  ‘Her heart certainly failed to beat—but what caused it to fail is the question.’

  One word fell from Emily Brent. It fell hard and clear into the listening group.

  ‘Conscience!’ she said.

  Armstrong turned to her.

  ‘What exactly do you mean by that, Miss Brent?’

  Emily Brent, her lips tight and hard, said:

  ‘You all heard. She was accused, together with her husband, of having deliberately murdered her former employer—an old lady.’

  ‘And you think?’

  Emily Brent said:

  ‘I think that that accusation was true. You all saw her last night. She broke down completely and fainted. The shock of having her wickedness brought home to her was too much for her. She literally died of fear.’

  Dr Armstrong shook his head doubtfully.

  ‘It is a possible theory,’ he said. ‘One cannot adopt it without more exact knowledge of her state of health. If there was cardiac weakness—’

  Emily Brent said quietly:

  ‘Call it if you prefer, an Act of God.’

  Everyone looked shocked. Mr Blore said uneasily:

  ‘That’s carrying things a bit far, Miss Brent.’

  She looked at them with shining eyes. Her chin went up. She said:

  ‘You regard it as impossible that a sinner should be struck down by the wrath of God! I do not!’

  The judge stroked his chin. He murmured in a slightly ironic voice:

  ‘My dear lady, in my experience of ill-doing, Providence leaves the work of conviction and chastisement to us mortals—and the process is often fraught with difficulties. There are no short cuts.’

  Emily Brent shrugged her shoulders.

  Blore said sharply:

  ‘What did she have to eat and drink last night after she went up to bed?’

  Armstrong said:


  ‘She didn’t take anything? A cup of tea? A drink of water? I’ll bet you she had a cup of tea. That sort always does.’

  ‘Rogers assures me she had nothing whatsoever.’

  ‘Ah,’ said Blore. ‘But he might say so!’

  His tone was so significant that the doctor looked at him sharply.

  Philip Lombard said:

  ‘So that’s your idea?’

  Blore said aggressively:

  ‘Well, why not? We all heard that accusation last night. May be sheer moonshine—just plain lunacy! On the other hand, it may not. Allow for the moment that it’s true. Rogers and his Missus polished off that old lady. Well, where does that get you? They’ve been feeling quite safe and happy about it—’

  Vera interrupted. In a low voice she said:

  ‘No, I don’t think Mrs Rogers ever felt safe.’

  Blore looked slightly annoyed at the interruption.

  ‘Just like a woman,’ his glance said.

  He resumed:

  ‘That’s as may be. Anyway there’s no active danger to them as far as they know. Then, last night, some unknown lunatic spills the beans. What happens? The woman cracks—she goes to pieces. Notice how her husband hung over her as she was coming round. Not all husbandly solicitude! Not on your life! He was like a cat on hot bricks. Scared out of his life as to what she might say.

  ‘And there’s the position for you! They’ve done a murder and got away with it. But if the whole thing’s going to be raked up, what’s going to happen? Ten to one, the woman will give the show away. She hasn’t got the nerve to stand up and brazen it out. She’s a living danger to her husband, that’s what she is. He’s all right. He’ll lie with a straight face till kingdom comes—but he can’t be sure of her! And if she goes to pieces, his neck’s in danger! So he slips something into a cup of tea and makes sure that her mouth is shut permanently.’

  Armstrong said slowly:

  ‘There was no empty cup by her bedside—there was nothing there at all. I looked.’

  Blore snorted.

  ‘Of course there wouldn’t be! First thing he’d do when she’d drunk it would be to take that cup and saucer away and wash it up carefully.’

  There was a pause. Then General Macarthur said doubtfully:

  ‘It may be so. But I should hardly think it possible that a man would do that—to his wife.’

  Blore gave a short laugh.

  He said:

  ‘When a man’s neck’s in danger, he doesn’t stop to think too much about sentiment.’

  There was a pause. Before any one could speak, the door opened and Rogers came in.

  He said, looking from one to the other:

  ‘Is there anything more I can get you?’

  Mr Justice Wargrave stirred a little in his chair. He asked:

  ‘What time does the motor-boat usually come over?’

  ‘Between seven and eight, sir. Sometimes it’s a bit after eight. Don’t know what Fred Narracott can be doing this morning. If he’s ill he’d send his brother.’

  Philip Lombard said:

  ‘What’s the time now?’

  ‘Ten minutes to ten, sir.’

  Lombard’s eyebrows rose. He nodded slowly to himself.

  Rogers waited a minute or two.

  General Macarthur spoke suddenly and explosively:

  ‘Sorry to hear about your wife, Rogers. Doctor’s just been telling us.’

  Rogers inclined his head.

  ‘Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.’

  He took up the empty bacon dish and went out.

  Again there was a silence.


  On the terrace outside Philip Lombard said:

  ‘About this motor-boat—’

  Blore looked at him.

  Blore nodded his head.

  He said:

  ‘I know what you’re thinking, Mr Lombard. I’ve asked myself the same question. Motor-boat ought to have been here nigh on two hours ago. It hasn’t come? Why?’

  ‘Found the answer?’ asked Lombard.

  ‘It’s not an accident—that’s what I say. It’s part and parcel of the whole business. It’s all bound up together.’

  Philip Lombard said:

  ‘It won’t come, you think?’

  A voice spoke behind him—a testy impatient voice.

  ‘The motor-boat’s not coming,’ it said.

  Blore turned his square shoulder slightly and viewed the last speaker thoughtfully.

  ‘You think not too, General?’

  General Macarthur said sharply:

  ‘Of course it won’t come. We’re counting on the motor-boat to take us off the island. That’s the meaning of the whole business. We’re not going to leave the island…None of us will ever leave…It’s the end, you see—the end of everything…’

  He hesitated, then he said in a low strange voice:

  ‘That’s peace—real peace. To come to the end—not to have to go on…Yes, peace…’

  He turned abruptly and walked away. Along t
he terrace, then down the slope towards the sea—obliquely—to the end of the island where loose rocks went out into the water.

  He walked a little unsteadily, like a man who was only half awake.

  Blore said:

  ‘There goes another one who’s barmy! Looks as though it’ll end with the whole lot going that way.’

  Philip Lombard said:

  ‘I don’t fancy you will, Blore.’

  The ex-Inspector laughed.

  ‘It would take a lot to send me off my head.’ He added dryly: ‘And I don’t think you’ll be going that way either, Mr Lombard.’

  Philip Lombard said:

  ‘I feel quite sane at the minute, thank you.’


  Dr Armstrong came out on to the terrace. He stood there hesitating. To his left were Blore and Lombard. To his right was Wargrave, slowly pacing up and down, his head bent down.

  Armstrong, after a moment of indecision, turned towards the latter.

  But at that moment Rogers came quickly out of the house.

  ‘Could I have a word with you, sir, please?’

  Armstrong turned.

  He was startled at what he saw.

  Rogers’ face was working. Its colour was greyish green. His hands shook.

  It was such a contrast to his restraint of a few minutes ago that Armstrong was quite taken aback.

  ‘Please sir, if I could have a word with you. Inside, sir.’

  The doctor turned back and re-entered the house with the frenzied butler. He said:

  ‘What’s the matter, man, pull yourself together.’

  ‘In here, sir, come in here.’

  He opened the dining-room door. The doctor passed in. Rogers followed him and shut the door behind him.

  ‘Well,’ said Armstrong, ‘what is it?’

  The muscles of Rogers’ throat were working. He was swallowing. He jerked out:

  ‘There’s things going on, sir, that I don’t understand.’

  Armstrong said sharply:

  ‘Things? What things?’

  ‘You’ll think I’m crazy, sir. You’ll say it isn’t anything. But it’s got to be explained, sir. It’s got to be explained. Because it doesn’t make any sense.’

  ‘Well, man, tell me what it is. Don’t go on talking in riddles.’

  Rogers swallowed again.

  He said:

  ‘It’s those little figures, sir. In the middle of the table. The little china figures. Ten of them, there were. I’ll swear to that, ten of them.’

  Armstrong said:

  ‘Yes, ten. We counted them last night at dinner.’

  Rogers came nearer.

  ‘That’s just it, sir. Last night, when I was clearing up, there wasn’t but nine, sir. I noticed it and thought it queer. But that’s all I thought. And now, sir, this morning. I didn’t notice when I laid the breakfast. I was upset and all that.

  ‘But now, sir, when I came to clear away. See for yourself if you don’t believe me.

  ‘There’s only eight, sir! Only eight! It doesn’t make sense, does it? Only eight…’

  Chapter 7


  After breakfast, Emily Brent had suggested to Vera Claythorne that they should walk to the summit again and watch for the boat. Vera had acquiesced.

  The wind had freshened. Small white crests were appearing on the sea. There were no fishing boats out—and no sign of the motor-boat.

  The actual village of Sticklehaven could not be seen, only the hill above it, a jutting out cliff of red rock concealed the actual little bay.

  Emily Brent said:

  ‘The man who brought us out yesterday seemed a dependable sort of person. It is really very odd that he should be so late this morning.’

  Vera did not answer. She was fighting down a rising feeling of panic.

  She said to herself angrily:

  ‘You must keep cool. This isn’t like you. You’ve always had excellent nerves.’

  Aloud she said after a minute or two:

  ‘I wish he would come. I—I want to get away.’

  Emily Brent said dryly:

  ‘I’ve no doubt we all do.’

  Vera said:

  ‘It’s all so extraordinary…There seems no—no meaning in it all.’

  The elderly woman beside her said briskly:

  ‘I’m very annoyed with myself for being so easily taken in. Really that letter is absurd when one comes to examine it. But I had no doubts at the time—none at all.’

  Vera murmured mechanically: ‘I suppose not.’

  ‘One takes things for granted too much,’ said Emily Brent.

  Vera drew a deep shuddering breath.

  She said:

  ‘Do you really think—what you said at breakfast?’

  ‘Be a little more precise, my dear. To what in particular are you referring?’

  Vera said in a low voice:

  ‘Do you really think that Rogers and his wife did away with that old lady?’

  Emily Brent gazed thoughtfully out to sea. Then she said:

  ‘Personally, I am quite sure of it. What do you think?’

  ‘I don’t know what to think.’

  Emily Brent said:

  ‘Everything goes to support the idea. The way the woman fainted. And the man dropped the coffee tray, remember. Then the way he spoke about it—it didn’t ring true. Oh, yes, I’m afraid they did it.’

  Vera said:

  ‘The way she looked—scared of her own shadow! I’ve never seen a woman look so frightened…She must have been always haunted by it…’

  Miss Brent murmured:

  ‘I remember a text that hung in my nursery as a child. “Be sure thy sin will find thee out.” It’s very true, that. Be sure thy sin will find thee out.’

  Vera scrambled to her feet. She said:

  ‘But, Miss Brent—Miss Brent—in that case—’

  ‘Yes, my dear?’

  ‘The others? What about the others?’

  ‘I don’t quite understand you.’

  ‘All the other accusations—they—they weren’t true? But if it’s true about the Rogerses—’ She stopped, unable to make her chaotic thought clear.

  Emily Brent’s brow, which had been frowning perplexedly, cleared.

  She said:

  ‘Ah, I understand you now. Well, there is that Mr Lombard. He admits to having abandoned twenty men to their deaths.’

  Vera said: ‘They were only natives…’

  Emily Brent said sharply:

  ‘Black or white, they are our brothers.’

  Vera thought:

  ‘Our black brothers—our black brothers. Oh, I’m going to laugh. I’m hysterical. I’m not myself…’

  Emily Brent continued thoughtfully.

  ‘Of course, some of the other accusations were very far fetched and ridiculous. Against the judge, for instance, who was only doing his duty in his public capacity. And the ex-Scotland Yard man. My own case, too.’

  She paused and then went on:

  ‘Naturally, considering the circumstances, I was not going to say anything last night. It was not a fit subject to discuss before gentlemen.’


  Vera listened with interest. Miss Brent continued serenely.

  ‘Beatrice Taylor was in service with me. Not a nice girl—as I found out too late. I was very much deceived in her. She had nice manners and was very clean and willing. I was very pleased with her. Of course, all that was the sheerest hypocrisy! She was a loose girl with no morals. Disgusting! It was some time before I found out that she was what they call “in trouble”.’ She paused, her delicate nose wrinkling itself in distaste. ‘It was a great shock to me. Her parents were decent folk, too, who had brought her up very strictly. I’m glad to say they did not condone her behaviour.’

  Vera said, staring at Miss Brent:

  ‘What happened?’

  ‘Naturally I did not keep her an hour under my roof. No one shall ever say that I condoned immorality.’
r />
  Vera said in a lower voice:

  ‘What happened—to her?’

  Miss Brent said:

  ‘The abandoned creature, not content with having one sin on her conscience, committed a still graver sin. She took her own life.’

  Vera whispered, horror-struck:

  ‘She killed herself?’

  ‘Yes, she threw herself into the river.’

  Vera shivered.

  She stared at the calm delicate profile of Miss Brent. She said:

  ‘What did you feel like when you knew she’d done that? Weren’t you sorry? Didn’t you blame yourself?’

  Emily Brent drew herself up.

  ‘I? I had nothing with which to reproach myself.’

  Vera said:

  ‘But if your—hardness—drove her to it.’

  Emily Brent said sharply:

  ‘Her own action—her own sin—that was what drove her to it. If she had behaved like a decent modest young woman none of this would have happened.’

  She turned her face to Vera. There was no self-reproach, no uneasiness in those eyes. They were hard and self-righteous. Emily Brent sat on the summit of Soldier Island, encased in her own armour of virtue.

  The little elderly spinster was no longer slightly ridiculous to Vera.

  Suddenly—she was terrible.


  Dr Armstrong came out of the dining-room and once more came out on the terrace.

  The judge was sitting in a chair now, gazing placidly out to sea.

  Lombard and Blore were over to the left, smoking but not talking.

  As before, the doctor hesitated for a moment. His eye rested speculatively on Mr Justice Wargrave. He wanted to consult with someone. He was conscious of the judge’s acute logical brain. But nevertheless, he wavered. Mr Justice Wargrave might have a good brain but he was an elderly man. At this juncture, Armstrong felt what was needed was a man of action.

  He made up his mind.

  ‘Lombard, can I speak to you for a minute?’

  Philip started.

  ‘Of course.’

  The two men left the terrace. They strolled down the slope towards the water. When they were out of earshot Armstrong said:

  ‘I want a consultation.’

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