Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Dr. Armstrong discovers Potassium Cyanide traces in Anthony Marston’s glass. Since the whiskey itself does not contain the poison, the shocked guests assume suicide and wonder how such a young and strong man could ended his own life. After taking his body to his room, the guests realize it is after midnight and, locking their doors, retire for the night. Justice Wargrave reflects on the Edward Seton case from many years ago and admits to himself that he sealed the prisoner’s fate as guilty. Cleaning up downstairs, meanwhile, Rogers is puzzled to find only nine china figures on the table instead of ten.
General Macarthur lies in bed deep in thought about how he sent his wife’s lover deliberately to death in battle. He discovered the affair when his wife sent the wrong letter to him, and he acted in murderous rage, without remorse. He thinks of how lonely his life has been since his wife’s death a few years afterward. He guessed that one of his underlings, Armitage, had suspected and spread rumors about him, so he avoided others and his loneliness only deepened. Now as he listens to the waves on the rocks, he realizes that he does not want to go on with life; he does not want to leave Indian Island.
Vera Claythorne also lies awake, thinking about Hugo, her lover that disappeared from her life after his nephew, Cyril, drowned on her watch. Hugo had confided in her that if Cyril had been born a girl, he would have inherited a large sum and could afford to marry her. She notices the "Ten Little Indians" poem on her mantle again, and shudders when she reads the first entry about the first Indian choking himself; it mirrors what happened that evening.
In this chapter, we continue to gain more information about the characters’ past murders and their true feelings about the incidents. Through this, the reader builds the feeling that each of the characters has the potential to be the current murderer. The chapter also reinforces that the two symbols of the "Ten Little Indians" poem and the Indian china figures will be important in the plot.
Dr. Armstrong is having a strange dream about his operating room accident when Rogers rouses him to check on his wife. The doctor finds her dead, but the two men conclude that she took no sleeping aid or other drug besides what the doctor gave to calm her nerves the previous evening. After breakfast, Dr. Armstrong announces that Mrs. Rogers died in her sleep. All are alarmed when Emily Brent declares that the woman must have died from a guilty conscience or from being struck down by God. Mr. Blore suspects her husband may have poisoned her from fear that she would confess their crime. Meanwhile, everyone is wondering why Fred Narracott’s boat is late, and they begin to doubt if it will come at all. General Macarthur is convinced the boat’s absence is part of the conspiracy and that none of them will ever leave the island alive. He says there is peace in reaching the end of life, to which Blore and Lombard respond that he must be losing his sanity. Back in the house, a frightened Rogers shows Dr. Armstrong that there are now only eight china figures remaining on the table.
In this chapter, the characters first begin to view each other suspiciously, seeing beyond their surface impression of the others. Miss Brent’s cold declaration that Mrs. Rogers must have been struck dead by God’s judgment changes everyone’s view of Miss Brent as a pious and harmless old woman. Mr. Blore paints the innocent-seeming Rogers as a husband concerned only with his own fate, willing to kill his wife to keep her quiet.