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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
The five surviving characters agree to stay together in the drawing room, with only one person leaving at a time. They forsake any semblance of normal conversation and each struggles to keep a level head. It is raining heavily again, so there is no hope of lighting a signal bonfire or building an escape raft. They eat lunch out of tin cans, standing together in the kitchen. At tea time, they all return to the kitchen as a group, Vera and Blore drinking tea that everyone watched her make and the others taking whiskey from a newly opened bottle.
Before dinnertime, Vera Claythorne feels the need to wash her face in cold water so heads up to her room alone. Once there, she smells the familiar scent of the sea at the beach where she let Hugo’s nephew drown. She longs for Hugo to be beside her, then feels a cold, wet hand on her throat. She screams hysterically, until the men run to help her. They find a thick strand of seaweed hanging from the ceiling, which Vera had mistaken for a human hand. She is hysterical and faint, so Blore offers her brandy, which she quickly rejects as dangerous. He is insulted but Lombard soon brings a fresh bottle to give her. Once she is stable, they realize the judge did not run up with them. Going to look for him, they discover to their horror that he has been shot. They find him with the missing bathroom curtain draping him like a judge’s robe and Miss Brent’s missing wool on his head like a judge’s wig.
In this chapter, we see the remaining characters losing their British politeness and descending into paranoid fear and suspicion of each other. In agreeing to stay together in the drawing room, they find themselves tortured with waiting for time to pass. Yet ironically, they feel they lack enough time to take any action to save themselves, as the murderer is sure to strike again very soon.
The seaweed trick played on Vera is significant in that it shows just how troubled and obsessed she is with her past sin of drowning a young boy. The mere smell of the sea sends her into a trance, and she remembers the incident. Moreover, the enormity of her fear causes her to believe that seaweed on her neck is a human hand trying to harm her. This near-death experience, which it was in her mind, unhinges her so that it takes a while for her to regain her composure. The murderer obviously anticipated this hysterical reaction, seizing the opportunity to shoot Justice Wargave.