Pinky Pie

Agatha Christie & Me

Posted on: March 2, 2010

I stand with Agatha Christie on this: here's hoping I can soon say "And then there were none."

My mind went today to Agatha Christie, the great mystery writer best known for her book, And Then There Were None.

It is a book about a dinner party on an island for ten people – each of whom is guilty of a murder. Ten figurines of soldiers are on the dinner table representing the dinner guests. A gramophone record tells the story of each of the deaths and no one denies culpability.

As I probably read this book 40 years ago, I needed to consult some research about the book to get the fine details. Wikipedia noted in each guest’s room there was a framed copy of the nursery rhyme, “Ten Little Soldiers:”

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

Nine little Soldier boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Soldier boys traveling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.

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

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

Five little Soldier boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Soldier boys going out to sea;
red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

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

Two Little Soldier boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Soldier boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.

As you can imagine, the dinner guests were a tad disturbed to be in such bad company, which it would soon discover had a declining census.

What does this have to do with my cancer treatment? I had some bad company diagnosed in July and have gone through surgery, chemotherapy and now radiation. And I have ten treatments left.

Let’s imagine each radiation session kills off the last ten cancer cells one by one so that on Tuesday March 16, I will be able to say “And then there were none.”

(Even better let’s just assume the cancer cells are long dead.)

****

I have to add something. Christie’s book was originally far from politically correct, although for its times it was accepted by many people. I always believe, however, that it is best to err on the side of sensitivity.

And Then There Were None was originally published in 1939 in Britain as Ten Little Ni… and in 1940 in the United States as Ten Little Indians. I was uncomfortable even writing Ten Little Indians, let alone the other. By the time I read the book in the 1960s, it had And Then There Were None name.

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