Soldier boys went out to dine;
his little self and then there were nine.
Soldier boys sat up very late;
overslept himself and then there were eight.
little Soldier boys traveling in Devon;
he'd stay there and then there were seven.
little Soldier boys chopping up sticks;
himself in halves and then there were six.
Soldier boys playing with a hive;
stung one and then there were five.
Soldier boys going in for law;
into Chancery and then there were four.
Soldier boys going out to sea;
herring swallowed one and then there were three.
little Soldier boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear
hugged one and then there were two.
Soldier boys sitting in the sun;
frizzled up and then there was one.
Soldier boy left all alone;
He went out
and hanged himself and then there were none.
all strangers to each other, are invited to Indian Island, off the
English coast. Vera Claythorne, a former governess, thinks she has
been hired as a secretary; Philip Lombard, an adventurer, and William
Blore, an ex-detective, think they have been hired to look out for
trouble over the weekend; Dr. Armstrong thinks he has been hired to look
after the wife of the island's owner. Emily Brent, General Mackenzie,
Tony Marston, and Judge Wargrave think they are going to visit old
arrive on the island, the guests are greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, the
butler and housekeeper, who report that the host, someone they call Mr.
Owen, will not arrive until the next day. That evening, as all the
guests gather in the drawing room after an excellent dinner, they hear a
recorded voice accusing each of them of a specific murder committed in
the past and never uncovered. They compare notes and realize that none
of them, including the servants, knows “Mr. Owen,” which suggests that
they were brought here according to someone's strange plan.
discuss what to do, Tony Marston chokes on poisoned whiskey and dies.
Frightened, the party retreats to bed, where almost everyone is plagued
by guilt and memories of their crimes. Vera Claythorne notices the
similarity between the death of Marston and the first verse of a nursery
rhyme, “Ten Little Soldiers,” that hangs in each bedroom.
morning the guests find that Mrs. Rogers apparently died in her sleep.
The guests hope to leave that morning, but the boat that regularly
delivers supplies to the island does not show up. Blore, Lombard, and
Armstrong decide that the deaths must have been murders and determine to
scour the island in search of the mysterious Mr. Owen. They find no one,
however. Meanwhile, the oldest guest, General Macarthur, feels sure he
is going to die and goes to look out at the ocean. Before lunch, Dr.
Armstrong finds the general dead of a blow to the head.
guests meet to discuss their situation. They decide that one of them
must be the killer. Many make vague accusations, but Judge Wargrave
reminds them that the existing evidence suggests any of them could be
the killer. Afternoon and dinner pass restlessly, and everyone goes to
bed, locking his or her door before doing so. The next morning, they
find that Rogers has been killed while chopping wood in preparation for
breakfast. At this point, the guests feel sure the murders are being
carried out according to the dictates of the nursery rhyme. Also, they
realize that the dining-room table initially featured ten Indian
figures, but with each death one of the figures disappears.
breakfast, Emily Brent feels slightly giddy, and she remains alone at
the table for a while. She is soon found dead, her neck having been
injected with poison. At this point, Wargrave initiates an organized
search of everyone's belongings, and anything that could be used as a
weapon is locked away. The remaining guests sit together, passing time
and casting suspicious looks at each other. Finally, Vera goes to take a
bath, but she is startled by a piece of seaweed hanging from her ceiling
and cries out. Blore, Lombard, and Armstrong run to help her, only to
return downstairs to find Wargrave draped in a curtain that resembles
courtroom robes and bearing a red mark on his forehead. Armstrong
examines the body and reports that Wargrave has been shot in the head.
Blore hears footsteps in the hall; upon checking, he finds that
Armstrong is not in his room. Blore and Lombard search for Armstrong,
but they cannot find him anywhere in the house or on the island. When
they return from searching, they discover another Indian figure missing
from the table.
Lombard, and Blore go outside, resolving to stay in the safety of the
open land. Blore decides to go back into the house to get food. The
other two hear a crash, and they find someone has pushed a statue out of
a second-story window, killing Blore as he approached the house. Vera
and Lombard retreat to the shore, where they find Armstrong's drowned
body on the beach. Convinced that Lombard is the killer, Vera steals
Lombard's gun and shoots him. She returns to her bedroom to rest, happy
to have survived. But upon finding a noose waiting for her in her room,
she feels a strange compulsion to enact the last line of the nursery
rhyme, and hangs herself.
baffles the police until a manuscript in a bottle is found. The late
Judge Wargrave wrote the manuscript explaining that he planned the
murders because he wanted to punish those whose crimes are not
punishable under law. Wargrave frankly admits to his own lust for blood
and pleasure in seeing the guilty punished. When a doctor told Wargrave
he was dying, he decided to die in a blaze, instead of letting his life
trickle away. He discusses how he chose his victims and how he did away
with Marston, Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, Macarthur, and Emily Brent. Wargrave
then describes how he tricked Dr. Armstrong into helping him fake his
own death, promising to meet the doctor by the cliffs to discuss a plan.
When Armstrong arrived, Wargrave pushed him over the edge into the sea,
then returned to the house and pretended to be dead. His ruse enabled
him to dispose of the rest of the guests without drawing their
suspicion. Once Vera hanged herself on a noose that he prepared for her,
Wargrave planned to shoot himself in such a way that his body would fall
onto the bed as if it had been laid there. Thus, he hoped, the police
would find ten dead bodies on an empty island.