Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Vera Claythorne and Philip Lombard ask each other their respective theories on who the murderer might be, and in the process reason that it cannot be either of themselves; Lombard is too casual with human life to bother with killing people for no obvious gain, and Vera strikes Lombard as clearly sane. Lombard admits to suspecting the judge and Vera the doctor. Meanwhile, Blore and Rogers talk in the kitchen, Rogers confiding that he has no hint of who the killer might be, and Blore not identifying his own suspect. Dr. Armstrong chooses to trust the judge, and the two men discuss how they can best protect themselves from harm. Justice Wargrave admits he may know who the killer is, but declines to give a name. Meanwhile, Emily Brent writes in her diary that Beatrice Taylor (the woman she was accused of murdering) is the killer, and quickly thinks to herself that she must be losing her mind.
The guests have a moment of peace together with afternoon tea, until Rogers nervously enters and asks if anyone knows where the missing bathroom curtain is. Although the guests admit a curtain seems harmless as a murder weapon, everyone is nonetheless perturbed by this new mystery. After a simple dinner, Blore and Lombard escort the two women to their rooms. An hour later, all the men except Rogers retire for the night, reminding each other to lock their doors and block the handles with a chair. Rogers retires after cleaning up.
In this chapter, the characters congregate in groups of two to discuss who the killer might be. Vera Claythorne and Philip Lombard come to trust each other, Mr. Blore and Rogers confide in each other, and Dr. Armstrong and the judge discuss how they can protect themselves. Thus begins the constant wondering of each person as to who their threat might be. The momentary haven they find in the afternoon tea will be repeated throughout the book, where mealtimes remain the only periods with any peace, with even that small peace fading rapidly.
The next morning, the guests awake to find Rogers missing and no breakfast prepared. They search for him as a group, and meet Miss Brent coming in from a walk on the island. She claims she hasnít seen Rogers at all. Vera notices with alarm that only six Indian figures stand on the table. Soon they find Rogers dead, attacked from behind with an ax as he was chopping wood for the stove. No sooner had Dr. Armstrong confirmed that a womanís strength could have accomplished the job does Vera Claythorne become hysterical. She reminds everyone that the murderer is mirroring the verses of the "Ten Little Indians" poem and that somehow the next murder will be accomplished with a bee. The doctor strikes her to calm her hysteria, and she goes in to prepare breakfast with Emily Brent.
Blore takes Lombard aside to tell him he suspects Miss Brent is the killer; "religious mania" has made her believe she is Godís means of justice. After accepting this theoryís merits, Lombard asks Blore if he was truly guilty of the past murder alleged by the gramophone. Blore confesses that the prisoner was innocent but he committed perjury against him to seal the case for the police force and earn a promotion. The two men then assert to each other that they will survive the current conspiracy no matter what.
As Vera Claythorne and Emily Brent cook breakfast together, they are each deep in thought about the past murder they committed, causing both to think the other is acting strangely. At breakfast, all the guests treat each other with extra politeness, even as all are thinking panicked thoughts about who might be the killer.
The reader is reminded in this chapter of the power of the "Ten Little Indians" nursery rhyme to predict how each successive murder will be committed. The element of the poem adds suspense as the reader waits to see how the murderer will creatively accomplish each act in accordance with each verse. Lombardís conversation with Blore shows that the characters are accepting the enormity of the danger they are in, and slowly grasping the fact that they may not survive.