And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie


  General Macarthur nodded his head gently.

  ‘It’s not much good denying it now—not when we’re all going to die. I sent Richmond to his death. I suppose, in a way, it was murder. Curious. Murder—and I’ve always been such a law-abiding man! But it didn’t seem like that at the time. I had no regrets. “Serves him damned well right!”—that’s what I thought. But afterwards—’

  In a hard voice, Vera said:

  ‘Well, afterwards?’

  He shook his head vaguely. He looked puzzled and a little distressed.

  ‘I don’t know. I—don’t know. It was all different, you see. I don’t know if Leslie ever guessed…I don’t think so. But, you see, I didn’t know about her any more. She’d gone far away where I couldn’t reach her. And then she died—and I was alone…’

  Vera said:

  ‘Alone—alone—’ and the echo of her voice came back to her from the rocks.

  General Macarthur said:

  ‘You’ll be glad, too, when the end comes.’

  Vera got up. She said sharply:

  ‘I don’t know what you mean!’

  He said:

  ‘I know, my child. I know…’

  ‘You don’t. You don’t understand at all…’

  General Macarthur looked out to sea again. He seemed unconscious of her presence behind him.

  He said very gently and softly:

  ‘Leslie…?’

  V

  When Blore returned from the house with a rope coiled over his arm, he found Armstrong where he had left him staring down into the depths.

  Blore said breathlessly:

  ‘Where’s Mr Lombard?’

  Armstrong said carelessly:

  ‘Gone to test some theory or other. He’ll be back in a minute. Look here, Blore, I’m worried.’

  ‘I should say we were all worried.’

  The doctor waved an impatient hand.

  ‘Of course—of course. I don’t mean it that way. I’m thinking of old Macarthur.’

  ‘What about him, sir?’

  Dr Armstrong said grimly:

  ‘What we’re looking for is a madman. What price Macarthur?’

  Blore said incredulously:

  ‘You mean he’s homicidal?’

  Armstrong said doubtfully:

  ‘I shouldn’t have said so. Not for a minute. But, of course, I’m not a specialist in mental diseases. I haven’t really had any conversation with him—I haven’t studied him from that point of view.’

  Blore said doubtfully:

  ‘Ga-ga, yes! But I wouldn’t have said—’

  Armstrong cut in with a slight effort as of a man who pulls himself together.

  ‘You’re probably right! Damn it all, there must be someone hiding on the island! Ah! here comes Lombard.’

  They fastened the rope carefully.

  Lombard said:

  ‘I’ll help myself all I can. Keep a lookout for a sudden strain on the rope.’

  After a minute or two, while they stood together watching Lombard’s progress, Blore said:

  ‘Climbs like a cat, doesn’t he?’

  There was something odd in his voice.

  Dr Armstrong said:

  ‘I should think he must have done some mountaineering in his time.’

  ‘Maybe.’

  There was a silence and the ex-Inspector said:

  ‘Funny sort of cove altogether. D’you know what I think?’

  ‘What?’

  ‘He’s a wrong ’un!’

  Armstrong said doubtfully:

  ‘In what way?’

  Blore grunted. Then he said:

  ‘I don’t know—exactly. But I wouldn’t trust him a yard.’

  Dr Armstrong said:

  ‘I suppose he’s led an adventurous life.’

  Blore said:

  ‘I bet some of his adventures have had to be kept pretty dark.’ He paused and then went on: ‘Did you happen to bring a revolver along with you, doctor?’

  Armstrong stared.

  ‘Me? Good Lord, no. Why should I?’

  Blore said:

  ‘Why did Mr Lombard?’

  Armstrong said doubtfully:

  ‘I suppose—habit.’

  Blore snorted.

  A sudden pull came on the rope. For some moments they had their hands full. Presently, when the strain relaxed, Blore said:

  ‘There are habits and habits! Mr Lombard takes a revolver to out of the way places, right enough, and a primus and a sleeping-bag and a supply of bug powder no doubt! But habit wouldn’t make him bring the whole outfit down here! It’s only in books people carry revolvers around as a matter of course.’

  Dr Armstrong shook his head perplexedly.

  They leaned over and watched Lombard’s progress. His search was thorough and they could see at once that it was futile. Presently he came up over the edge of the cliff. He wiped the perspiration from his forehead.

  ‘Well,’ he said. ‘We’re up against it. It’s the house or nowhere.’

  VI

  The house was easily searched. They went through the few outbuildings first and then turned their attention to the building itself. Mrs Rogers’ yard measure discovered in the kitchen dresser assisted them. But there were no hidden spaces left unaccounted for. Everything was plain and straightforward, a modern structure devoid of concealments. They went through the ground floor first. As they mounted to the bedroom floor, they saw through the landing window Rogers carrying out a tray of cocktails to the terrace.

  Philip Lombard said lightly:

  ‘Wonderful animal, the good servant. Carries on with an impassive countenance.’

  Armstrong said appreciatively:

  ‘Rogers is a first-class butler, I’ll say that for him!’

  Blore said:

  ‘His wife was a pretty good cook, too. That dinner—last night—’

  They turned in to the first bedroom.

  Five minutes later they faced each other on the landing. No one hiding—no possible hiding-place.

  Blore said:

  ‘There’s a little stair here.’

  Dr Armstrong said:

  ‘It leads up to the servants’ room.’

  Blore said:

  ‘There must be a place under the roof—for cisterns, water tank, etc. It’s the best chance—and the only one!’

  And it was then, as they stood there, that they heard the sound from above. A soft furtive footfall overhead.

  They all heard it. Armstrong grasped Blore’s arm. Lombard held up an admonitory finger.

  ‘Quiet—listen.’

  It came again—someone moving softly, furtively, overhead.

  Armstrong whispered:

  ‘He’s actually in the bedroom itself. The room where Mrs Rogers’ body is.’

  Blore whispered back:

  ‘Of course! Best hiding-place he could have chosen! Nobody likely to go there. Now then—quiet as you can.’

  They crept stealthily upstairs.

  On the little landing outside the door of the bedroom they paused again. Yes, someone was in the room. There was a faint creak from within.

  Blore whispered:

  ‘Now.’

  He flung open the door and rushed in, the other two close behind him.

  Then all three stopped dead.

  Rogers was in the room, his hands full of garments.

  VII

  Blore recovered himself first. He said:

  ‘Sorry—er—Rogers. Heard someone moving about in here, and thought—well—’

  He stopped.

  Rogers said:

  ‘I’m sorry, gentlemen. I was just moving my things. I take it there will be no objection if I take one of the vacant guest chambers on the floor below? The smallest room.’

  It was to Armstrong that he spoke and Armstrong replied:

  ‘Of course. Of course. Get on with it.’

  He avoided looking at the sheeted figure lying on the bed.

  Rogers said:
r />   ‘Thank you, sir.’

  He went out of the room with his arm full of belongings and went down the stairs to the floor below.

  Armstrong moved over to the bed and, lifting the sheet, looked down on the peaceful face of the dead woman. There was no fear there now. Just emptiness.

  Armstrong said:

  ‘Wish I’d got my stuff here. I’d like to know what drug it was.’

  Then he turned to the other two.

  ‘Let’s get finished. I feel it in my bones we’re not going to find anything.’

  Blore was wrestling with the bolts of a low manhole.

  He said:

  ‘That chap moves damned quietly. A minute or two ago we saw him in the garden. None of us heard him come upstairs.’

  Lombard said:

  ‘I suppose that’s why we assumed it must be a stranger moving about up here.’

  Blore disappeared into a cavernous darkness. Lombard pulled a torch from his pocket and followed.

  Five minutes later three men stood on an upper landing and looked at each other. They were dirty and festooned with cobwebs and their faces were grim.

  There was no one on the island but their eight selves.

  Chapter 9

  I

  Lombard said slowly:

  ‘So we’ve been wrong—wrong all along! Built up a nightmare of superstition and fantasy all because of the coincidence of two deaths!’

  Armstrong said gravely:

  ‘And yet, you know, the argument holds. Hang it all, I’m a doctor, I know something about suicides. Anthony Marston wasn’t a suicidal type.’

  Lombard said doubtfully:

  ‘It couldn’t, I suppose, have been an accident?’

  Blore snorted, unconvinced.

  ‘Damned queer sort of accident,’ he grunted.

  There was a pause, then Blore said:

  ‘About the woman—’ and stopped.

  ‘Mrs Rogers?’

  ‘Yes. It’s possible, isn’t it, that that might have been an accident?’

  Philip Lombard said:

  ‘An accident? In what way?’

  Blore looked slightly embarrassed. His red-brick face grew a little deeper in hue. He said, almost blurting out the words:

  ‘Look here, doctor, you did give her some dope, you know.’

  Armstrong stared at him.

  ‘Dope? What do you mean?’

  ‘Last night. You said yourself you’d given her something to make her sleep.’

  ‘Oh that, yes. A harmless sedative.’

  ‘What was it exactly?’

  ‘I gave her a mild dose of trional. A perfectly harmless preparation.’

  Blore grew redder still. He said:

  ‘Look here—not to mince matters—you didn’t give her an overdose, did you?’

  Dr Armstrong said angrily:

  ‘I don’t know what you mean.’

  Blore said:

  ‘It’s possible, isn’t it, that you may have made a mistake? These things do happen once in a while.’

  Armstrong said sharply:

  ‘I did nothing of the sort. The suggestion is ridiculous.’ He stopped and added in a cold biting tone: ‘Or do you suggest that I gave her an overdose on purpose?’

  Philip Lombard said quickly:

  ‘Look here, you two, got to keep our heads. Don’t let’s start slinging accusations about.’

  Blore said sullenly:

  ‘I only suggested the doctor had made a mistake.’

  Dr Armstrong smiled with an effort. He said, showing his teeth in a somewhat mirthless smile:

  ‘Doctors can’t afford to make mistakes of that kind, my friend.’

  Blore said deliberately:

  ‘It wouldn’t be the first you’ve made—if that gramophone record is to be believed!’

  Armstrong went white. Philip Lombard said quickly and angrily to Blore:

  ‘What’s the sense of making yourself offensive? We’re all in the same boat. We’ve got to pull together. What about your own pretty little spot of perjury?’

  Blore took a step forward, his hands clenched. He said in a thick voice:

  ‘Perjury, be damned! That’s a foul lie! You may try and shut me up, Mr Lombard, but there’s things I want to know—and one of them is about you!’

  Lombard’s eyebrows rose.

  ‘About me?’

  ‘Yes. I want to know why you brought a revolver down here on a pleasant social visit?’

  Lombard said:

  ‘You do, do you?’

  ‘Yes, I do, Mr Lombard.’

  Lombard said unexpectedly:

  ‘You know, Blore, you’re not nearly such a fool as you look.’

  ‘That’s as may be. What about that revolver?’

  Lombard smiled.

  ‘I brought it because I expected to run into a spot of trouble.’

  Blore said suspiciously:

  ‘You didn’t tell us that last night.’

  Lombard shook his head.

  ‘You were holding out on us?’ Blore persisted.

  ‘In a way, yes,’ said Lombard.

  ‘Well, come on, out with it.’

  Lombard said slowly:

  ‘I allowed you all to think that I was asked here in the same way as most of the others. That’s not quite true. As a matter of fact I was approached by a little Jew-boy—Morris his name was. He offered me a hundred guineas to come down here and keep my eyes open—said I’d got a reputation for being a good man in a tight place.’

  ‘Well?’ Blore prompted impatiently.

  Lombard said with a grin:

  ‘That’s all.’

  Dr Armstrong said:

  ‘But surely he told you more than that?’

  ‘Oh no, he didn’t. Just shut up like a clam. I could take it or leave it—those were his words. I was hard up. I took it.’

  Blore looked unconvinced. He said:

  ‘Why didn’t you tell us all this last night?’

  ‘My dear man—’ Lombard shrugged eloquent shoulders. ‘How was I to know that last night wasn’t exactly the eventuality I was here to cope with? I lay low and told a non-committal story.’

  Dr Armstrong said shrewdly:

  ‘But now—you think differently?’

  Lombard’s face changed. It darkened and hardened. He said:

  ‘Yes. I believe now that I’m in the same boat as the rest of you. That hundred guineas was just Mr Owen’s little bit of cheese to get me into the trap along with the rest of you.’

  He said slowly:

  ‘For we are in a trap—I’ll take my oath on that! Mrs Rogers’ death! Tony Marston’s! The disappearing soldier boys on the dinner-table! Oh yes, Mr Owen’s hand is plainly seen—but where the devil is Mr Owen himself?’

  Downstairs the gong pealed a solemn call to lunch.

  II

  Rogers was standing by the dining-room door. As the three men descended the stairs he moved a step or two forward. He said in a low anxious voice:

  ‘I hope lunch will be satisfactory. There is cold ham and cold tongue, and I’ve boiled some potatoes. And there’s cheese and biscuits, and some tinned fruits.’

  Lombard said:

  ‘Sounds all right. Stores are holding out, then?’

  ‘There is plenty of food, sir—of a tinned variety. The larder is very well stocked. A necessity, that, I should say, sir, on an island where one may be cut off from the mainland for a considerable period.’

  Lombard nodded.

  Rogers murmured as he followed the three men into the dining-room:

  ‘It worries me that Fred Narracott hasn’t been over today. It’s peculiarly unfortunate, as you might say.’

  ‘Yes,’ said Lombard, ‘peculiarly unfortunate describes it very well.’

  Miss Brent came into the room. She had just dropped a ball of wool and was carefully rewinding the end of it.

  As she took her seat at table she remarked:

  ‘The weather is changing. The wind is quite s
trong and there are white horses on the sea.’

  Mr Justice Wargrave came in. He walked with a slow measured tread. He darted quick looks from under his bushy eyebrows at the other occupants of the dining-room. He said:

  ‘You have had an active morning.’

  There was a faint malicious pleasure in his voice.

  Vera Claythorne hurried in. She was a little out of breath.

  She said quickly:

  ‘I hope you didn’t wait for me. Am I late?’

  Emily Brent said:

  ‘You’re not the last. The General isn’t here yet.’

  They sat round the table.

  Rogers addressed Miss Brent.

  ‘Will you begin, Madam, or will you wait?’

  Vera said:

  ‘General Macarthur is sitting right down by the sea. I don’t expect he would hear the gong there anyway’—she hesitated—‘he’s a little vague today, I think.’

  Rogers said quickly:

  ‘I will go down and inform him luncheon is ready.’

  Dr Armstrong jumped up.

  ‘I’ll go,’ he said. ‘You others start lunch.’

  He left the room. Behind him he heard Rogers’ voice.

  ‘Will you take cold tongue or cold ham, Madam?’

  III

  The five people sitting round the table seemed to find conversation difficult. Outside, sudden gusts of wind came up and died away.

  Vera shivered a little and said:

  ‘There is a storm coming.’

  Blore made a contribution to the discourse. He said conversationally:

  ‘There was an old fellow in the train from Plymouth yesterday. He kept saying a storm was coming. Wonderful how they know weather, these old salts.’

  Rogers went round the table collecting the meat plates.

  Suddenly, with the plates held in his hands, he stopped.

  He said in an odd scared voice:

  ‘There’s somebody running…’

  They could all hear it—running feet along the terrace.

  In that minute, they knew—knew without being told…

  As by common accord, they all rose to their feet. They stood looking towards the door.

  Dr Armstrong appeared, his breath coming fast.

  He said:

  ‘General Macarthur—’

  ‘Dead!’ The word burst from Vera explosively.

  Armstrong said:

  ‘Yes, he’s dead…’

 
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