Wednesday, April 25, 2007

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine
One choked his little self and then there were nine

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late
One overslept himself and then there were eight

Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon
One said he'd stay there and then there were seven

Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six

Six little Indian boys playing with a hive
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five

Five little Indian boys going in for law
One got in chancery and then there were four

Four little Indian boys going out to sea
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three

Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo
A big bear hugged one and then there were two

Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun
One got frizzled up and then there were one

One little Indian boy left all alone
He went and hanged himself and then there were none
--Agatha Christie (or perhaps anonymous)

This is the poem from the book by Agatha Christie. It has been variously titled: And Then There were None, Ten Little Indians, and more recently Ten Little Soldiers (in the current printing of the novel), or Ten Little Sailor Boys (in the video game), all changed from the original Ten Little N*** for obvious reasons.

I started reading Agatha Christie when I was 10, just before we moved to Ohio, I read Murder on the Orient Express and thought it was amazing. Sometime in Jr. High I came across The Sleeping Murder which gave me the shivers and remained in my imagination for years. All the same, because of the poem, I like this one the best.

Again, I can't seem to find definitive information about whether she wrote it herself, or took a real nursery rhyme that was floating around at the time. The rhyme seems not to have survived except in the exact form from Christie's book, which could mean that the racism inherent in the original rhyme killed it, or that it never existed in the first place.

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