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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
When morning comes, Lombard, Blore and Vera are left to analyze where the doctor could be. Vera insists he is hiding somewhere, and points to the nursery rhyme line, "a red herring swallowed one and then there were three" as evidence that Dr. Armstrong is only pretending to be dead. Blore insists that Lombard give up his revolver to be fair, but Lombard doggedly holds on to his weapon. The three venture outside to flash SOS at the mainland, in vain, and stay in the open until Blore suggests they return to the house for lunch. He goes alone as the other two refuse to reenter the house.
Meanwhile, Lombard and Vera discuss Blore as the possible murder suspect, saying he may have been lying about seeing Dr. Armstrong leave the house and may have killed him hours earlier. Vera also asks if Lombard could believe in a supernatural plot; Lombard replies that Vera’s conscience is giving her such thoughts, and suggests that she must have drowned the child after all. Soon, however, Lombard and Vera hear a crashing sound and discover Blore smashed under a large marble clock in the shape of a bear.
At this point, Lombard and Vera become convinced that Dr. Armstrong is indeed hiding somewhere on Indian Island, waiting to attack them next. They decide to remain outdoors, and walk around the island to keep busy. Then, on the rocks below, they find Dr. Armstrong’s drowned body.
This chapter briefly explores the theme of guilt’s effect on people. When Vera mentions the possibility of heavenly visitors as the murderer, Lombard tells her it is her guilty conscience imagining such impossibilities. Even at this point of desperation in their survival, Lombard asks her about her past crime, wanting to know if she is indeed guilty. Vera still refuses to confess but the effect of her past on her reasoning ability has been pointed out by the author already.
This chapter again contains the ironic situation in which a certain character is suspected to be the murderer, only to be found dead soon afterward. In this case, Lombard and Vera discuss Blore as suspicious and dangerous, yet are shocked to discover his crushed body moments later. This use of irony adds to the plot’s suspense since it shows that the characters cannot escape their fate by reasoning out who the murderer is; they are always wrong in their guesses.
The murderer remains faithful to the "Ten Little Indians" poem even near the end of his killing spree, as we see in this chapter. Although it is unclear what has become of Dr. Armstrong, the mystery of his disappearance fits the line that "a red herring swallowed one and then there were three." Blore’s murder fits the line "three little Indian boys walking in the zoo; a big bear hugged one and then there were two," because, as Vera says, their nerves have made them so on edge that it is as if they were a zoo. Also, the marble block that crushes Blore was a clock in the shape of a bear.
This chapter takes us to the climax of the plot, when Vera and Lombard discover Dr. Armstrong’s body and ascertain that the other is the murderer. Trust dissolves into desperation as they both fear imminent death.