And Then There Were None: Novel Summary: Chapter XII

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Summary

Following their meal, Wargrave suggests that they meet in half an hour to discuss the recent events. The women rise to clear the table, but Brent becomes dizzy. Armstrong suggests that its quite natural, given the shock of recent events and offers to give her something to help it pass. Brent adamantly refuses. Armstrong is taken aback but politely backs down. As the party disperses, Brent remains alone in the dining room. She begins to feel dizzier and hears a buzzing in her ears. Her attention is drawn to a bee crawling up the windowpane, and as she concentrates on it, she slips into a semi-conscious state, believing that she sees Beatrice Taylor emerging from the water. Unable to move, she feels a pinprick at her neck.

All but Brent gather in the drawing room. While they wait for Brent, Blore comments that he believes she is the murderer. When Armstrong questions Brents motive, Blore suggests religious mania. Claythorne notes that Brent acted strangely that morning and recounts how Brent told her the story of Beatrice Taylor. When Wargrave asks if Brent felt any guilt over Taylors death, Claythorne replies: None whatever. Eventually, Wargrave suggests that they summon Brent. When Blore inquires if Wargrave is going to take any action, the judge replies that no action can be taken because his suggestion is mere suspicion. The group reenters the dining room and finds Brent dead.

Armstrong notices the mark of a hypodermic needle on Brents neck, but Claythorne calls their attention to the bee on the windowpane. Armstrong attributes Brents death to the same cyanide that killed Marston. When Claythorne assert that the bee in the room cant be a coincidence, Lombard suggests that it is another part of a carefully orchestrated plan. Wargrave asks if anyone possesses a syringe, and Armstrong admits that he has one in his suitcase, stressing that doctors generally travel with one. The five remaining guests go upstairs to Armstrongs room, but the syringe is missing from its case.

Armstrong insists that someone must have taken the syringe, but his comments are ignored. Wargrave reasserts that they are all in grave danger and must do whatever they can to ensure each others safety. Wargrave asks what drugs Armstrong possesses, states that he also possesses some prescription medicines, and notes that Lombard has a revolver. He then suggests that these items be collected and locked up. Lombard immediately protests, but Wargrave reminds him that he is capable of protecting himself without the revolver, and then notes that if necessary the others will take the gun from him. Lombard consents to the confiscation and states that the revolver is in the drawer of his nightstand. The group proceeds to Lombards room, but the revolver is missing.

Each guest agrees to be physically searched and to have his or her room searched. Nothing unusual is found during the search, and the various drugs are locked up a small chest which, in turn, is locked in the pantry. One key is given to Blore and the other to Lombard. Wargrave then notes that the missing revolver remains a serious issue. Claythorne states that the gun must be somewhere in the house and suggests that they look for it; however, Wargrave insists that they arent likely to find it, since whoever took it must have carefully hidden it. Blore exclaims that while he might not know the revolver’s location, he is sure he can find the missing hypodermic. He steps outside and finds the syringe near a window, next to a smashed Indian figurine. At Claythornes suggestion, they search for the revolver but are unable to locate it.

Analysis
Brents fierce refusal of Armstrongs offer to medicate her revels just how deeply the guests suspicion of each other has become. While Wargraves assertion that the guests need to help each other to ensure the safety of all makes sense, the group is unable to successfully band together because of the deep mistrust they harbor for each other. The disappearance of the revolver and the syringe are a clever way for the murderer to enhance the guests suspicion of each other and to increase their fears.

Brents discussion with Claythorne about the events surrounding Beatrice Taylors death offers further evidence of Brents repressed guilt, and Blores open accusation of Brent as the murderer reflects the theme of judgment.

Wargraves comment that no action can be taken against Brent illustrates his belief that society has been unable to act against each guest for his or her crime, a belief Wargrave will fully address in the final chapter.

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