And Then There Were None

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Justice Wargrave Character Analysis

A recently retired Judge who quickly re-assumes this role on the island, holding impromptu "court cases" after nearly every murder. He is obsessed with justice, and also with death, as he reveals at the end of the novel through a letter placed in a bottle and put in the ocean. Since he was a child he has taken great pleasure from the idea of death, and even killed animals, but he was also pained by the idea of killing anyone who was innocent. When he realized that he was going to die he decided to finally commit the perfect murder – by killing people who had murdered themselves yet were beyond the reach of the law.

Justice Wargrave Quotes in And Then There Were None

The And Then There Were None quotes below are all either spoken by Justice Wargrave or refer to Justice Wargrave. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Justice Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper edition of And Then There Were None published in 2011.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Definitely Soldiers Island was news!

Related Characters: Justice Wargrave (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Island
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

As the story begins, Justice Wargrave is in transit to Soldiers Island. While browsing the newspaper, he thinks of the various times he has read of the destination before.

Wargrave’s comment that the island "was news" establishes the relative notoriety of the destination. What is to come in the text, then, will not take place in an anonymous or blank space, but rather in a destination already associated with stories and scandals. In this way, the setting mirrors the unscrupulous lives of the characters, making it the perfect symbolic site for the murders. Indeed, that the island “was news” foreshadows how their story will itself become a part of Soldiers Island’s infamous narrative.

Furthermore, this line shows that Wargrave has read extensively about the setting of the novel. He evidently has a body of knowledge about the island that other characters lack. Although this information might seem to present him as a trustworthy character, the careful reader should be suspicious of his mastery of the space. Christie here foreshadows how Wargrave will be more capable and more in control of the events to come.

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Chapter 3 Quotes

“Oh, yes. I've no doubt in my own mind that we have been invited here by a madman – probably a dangerous homicidal lunatic.”

Related Characters: Justice Wargrave (speaker)
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

After discovering the gramophone that has charged everyone with being a murderer, Wargrave organizes the other characters to assess the situation. He expresses the belief that their host is insane.

Wargrave’s tone here is notably assertive and commanding. This quality speaks foremost to his role as a judge, for he rapidly takes control of an uncertain group of people and establishes a site and framework of justice. He rapidly psychologizes and passes judgement on the host, which sets Wargrave as the leader of the scene and binds together the characters.

That Wargrave has “no doubt,” however, strikes as somewhat suspicious given the relative lack of information available to him. Why, the reader must wonder, would he be so purely confident given a relative lack of evidence on the matter? The qualifications “in my own mind” and “probably” speak to a latent doubt, making the close reader suspicious of Wargrave’s professed certainty. Only later will the true irony of the comment become clear, when we learn that Wargrave himself is responsible for the murders: He is indeed correct that the host is a “dangerous homicidal lunatic” because he is himself that lunatic.

Chapter 4 Quotes

“Whoever it was who enticed us here, that person knows or has taken the trouble to find out a good deal about us all”

Related Characters: Justice Wargrave (speaker)
Page Number: 63-64
Explanation and Analysis:

The characters continue to pool information on their host. Wargrave observes how much the host has learned about the invitees.

Wargrave's comment shifts the attention away from the host and back to the other characters. Instead of trying to ascertain more about the person who invited them, he characterizes the host with a flippant “whoever” and instead focuses on the “good deal about us all” that has been uncovered. Wargrave implies that there is a specific reason why each character has been brought to the island and that the host deeply researched their histories in order to do so. Much like Soldiers Island’s notorious past, the characters themselves may have personal histories they hope not to divulge. In this way, Wargrave presents the host as a kind of analog to a detective or jury—someone who has uncovered facts about characters who (we will eventually learn) are all guilty in some way. Christie thus blurs the delineations between criminal and victim by making both host and visitors play both roles.

Chapter 7 Quotes

“I mean – it explains Soldier Island. There are crimes that cannot be brought home to their perpetrators. Instance the Rogerses'. Another instance, old Wargrave, who committed his murder strictly within the law.”

Related Characters: Philip Lombard (speaker), Justice Wargrave, Thomas Rogers, Ethel Rogers
Related Symbols: The Island
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:

With Dr. Armstrong, Lombard reviews the information on the visitors to the island. He concludes that everyone who was invited is guilty of some form of murder.

Lombard articulates, here, the unifying concept for the island and for Christie’s text. He is thus the first character to be an effective detective, providing a model for the reader to follow as we take on a similar investigating role. Like any good reader, Lombard first reviews the information available to him and then makes a final pronouncement—“it explains”—that can connect all the threads of information.

The common feature for those who have been invited to the island deserves some consideration: The guests are not just murderers but rather ones whose crimes resist traditional methods of prosecution. They cannot be tried in normal courtrooms and thus the island becomes itself a pseudo-courtroom—a place where culpability is punished in a way that normal social regulations do not permit. Christie thus complicates the ethics of the ensuing murders, casting them as cruel but also as providing a form of vigilante justice that could not be dealt out elsewhere in society.

Chapter 11 Quotes

“The damned fool, he believed every word I said to him. It was easy … I must be careful, though, very careful.”

Related Characters: Justice Wargrave (speaker), Dr. Edward Armstrong
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

While eating breakfast, the characters continue to panic about the murderer. Scraps of interior dialogue mix into the text, one of which seems to come from the murderer’s own mind.

Christie uses an innovative narrative style to generate dramatic tension. Though the novel has previously plunged into the interior psyches of the characters, here she declines to identify whose mind each line of text is in. This line, for instance, could perhaps be spoken by the murderer: for he would consider Rogers to be a “damned fool” and to have been easily manipulated. Or perhaps it references the syringe that has just been taken from Dr. Armstrong in order to kill Miss Brent in the ensuing scene. Similarly, he would want to be “be careful” about his future killings. This sentence thus confirms that the murderer is one of the guests who is still alive, instead of an additional character hiding on the island. Furthermore, by not making the thinker of this statement clear, Christie puts the reader in an analogous position to one of the guests at the table: able to presume that the guilty person is among them while lacking the capacity to identify just who that is.

Chapter 12 Quotes

“One more of us acquitted – too late!”

Related Characters: Justice Wargrave (speaker)
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

Miss Brent is discovered dead in the kitchen. In response, Wargrave makes this exclamation about how she is now innocent.

The reference to being “acquitted” actually has a double meaning in this sentence. It refers most directly to the fact that Miss Brent could not be the murderer since she has been killed. But it also refers to her earlier crime that has brought her to the island in the first place. Wargrave implies, then, that Miss Brent has been “acquitted” from her own crime by herself dying. So her murder becomes an act of ethical justice. Yet the fact that it is “too late” implies that each of the characters must die in order to doubly absolve themselves: of both suspicion for the murders committed on Soldiers Island and of guilt for what they have previously done. In this way, the text makes an odd parallel between being acquitted and dying, implying that the only "justice" for these characters can come in their demise.

Chapter 15 Quotes

“But don't you see, he's mad? It's all mad! The whole thing of going by the rhyme is mad! Dressing up the judge, killing Rogers when he was chopping sticks – drugging Mrs. Roberts so that she overslept herself – arranging for a bumble bee when Miss Brent died! It's like some horrible child playing a game. It's all got to fit in.”

Related Characters: Vera Claythorne (speaker), Justice Wargrave, Thomas Rogers, Ethel Rogers
Page Number: 248
Explanation and Analysis:

Blore and Lombard continue to fixate on the revolver, but Vera becomes frustrated with their narrow-mindedness. She argues that each of the murders must fit into the ten little soldiers nursery rhyme in some way.

Vera’s impassioned tone shows how a sense of desperation has sunk into the characters at this point. Overwhelmed with false clues and misinformation, they have become increasingly disoriented and uncertain in how to proceed. Ironically, Vera exclaims repeatedly about madness even as she herself is becoming less mentally hinged. She thus comes to mimic the manic role of the murderer, a pattern followed by many of the characters.

Perhaps due to this increased similarity, her assertions actually interpret quite accurately the murderer’s intentions. Whereas Blore and Lombard are focused on traditional symbols in a murder case like the revolver, Vera is attentive to the specific conditions of this event. She correctly links each murder to a line in the poem and demands that each event has “got to fit in” to the metaphorical whole. That Christie makes symbolic interpretation of the poem the key to solving the murder further renders Vera an analog to a good reader of the novel.

Epilogue 2 Quotes

I was born with other traits besides my romantic fancy. I have a definite sadistic delight in seeing or causing death.

Related Characters: Justice Wargrave (speaker)
Page Number: 285
Explanation and Analysis:

The second epilogue is a letter that we later learn was written by Wargrave. He observes how his personality is composed of contradictions of romanticism and sadism.

For the first time, here, the reader begins to understand the inner workings of the murderer’s mind. The epilogue relies on some of the conventions of a confession text: a writer expressing his motivations to an unknown audience and at last divulging the secrets previously obscured. Yet it also plays with those traditional expectations: If a normal confession would begin by explaining the motivation to murder a specific person or group of people, this one starts with a personal self-analysis. In explaining his actions based on his “traits,” Wargrave implies that the events of the novel were a way for him to manifest that personality.

More specifically, they resulted from the interaction between his “romantic fancy” and “sadistic delight.” The first of these phrases clarifies the way that Wargrave organized the murders around the ten little soldiers poem—providing an organized symbolism that turned the proceedings into a game. The second reveals the more direct impulse for murder, and the combination thus resulted in a uniquely diabolical and creative series of events. Christie thus grounds her tale not in a normal narrative arc of cause and effect but rather in the unique and paradoxical personality of Wargrave.

I have wanted – let me admit frankly – to commit a murder myself. I recognized this as the desire of the artist to express himself! I was, or could me, an artist in crime! My imagination, sternly checked by the exigencies of my profession, waxed secretly to colossal force.

Related Characters: Justice Wargrave (speaker)
Page Number: 287
Explanation and Analysis:

Wargrave continues to provide backstory on his motivations for the murders at Soldiers Island. He explains that serving as a judge did not fully satisfy his sadistic impulses and that he wished to actually commit a crime.

Whereas the letter’s previous sections show that Wargrave was able to release his cruel wishes through a lawful court system, this passages shows that those mechanisms were insufficient. Saying, “let me admit frankly” indicates that he speaks openly and without shame, confirming that this epilogue serves as a way for Wargrave to release his previously unacknowledged sentiments. This wish for release is paralleled by the way the murders on Soldiers Island allowed Wargrave to manifest his long with-held desires to kill others.

He couches those desires, more specifically, in the language of artistry. In this way, Wargrave contrasts the more mechanical and structured form of justice in the courtroom—“the exigencies of my profession”—with the creative and chaotic events that took place at Soldiers Island. This passage casts the homicides, then, as a way for Wargrave to play the “artist” and to integrate his romantic and sadistic desires. Christie thus presents an increasingly complicated moral and psychological picture for the reader—in which Wargrave is both cruel and brilliant, simultaneously an artist and a killer.

When the sea goes down, there will come from the mainland boats and men.

And they will find ten dead bodies and an unsolved problem on Soldier Island.

Related Characters: Justice Wargrave (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Storm
Page Number: 300
Explanation and Analysis:

At the second epilogue’s end, Wargrave has finished explaining the way he organized the murder at Solider Island. He correctly predicts the way that the site of the crime will be discovered.

The text returns once more to a prophetic and spiritual tone. Wargrave imagines the necessary future of the “sea goes down” much like an oracle would, thus recalling the man on the train who predicted that a final judgement would be born on the characters. Rising and falling sea levels also calls to mind the Christian tales of the great deluge and Noah’s arc. Unlike with Noah, however, Wargrave prophesies that none will survive and that the declining sea level will only reveal “ten dead bodies.” Christie demonstrates through these religious allusions the depths of Wargrave’s megalomania: He presents himself as a pseudo-god who can pass divine justice on the other characters.

It bears noting, however, that the “unsolved problem” is in fact solved by the text’s end. Though Christie has resisted the conventions of a detective story by previously failing to reveal the outcome even in the first epilogue, the reader does finally hear the entire narrative parsed out by Wargrave’s letter. Thus even as he seeks to leave the events unsolved, Wargrave also reveals a wish for his story to be known—for his artistry of murder to be disseminated, just as Christie's own skills are made clear through her literary art.

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Justice Wargrave Character Timeline in And Then There Were None

The timeline below shows where the character Justice Wargrave appears in And Then There Were None. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Justice Wargrave reads the paper on a first class train and starts thinking about his destination: Soldier... (full context)
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Justice Wargrave takes a letter out of his pocket. It is his invitation to Soldier Island from... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Guilt Theme Icon
...where he feels he can leave the whole world behind. Dr. Armstrong runs into Justice Wargrave on the terrace and remembers how he has had to testify for some of Wargrave's... (full context)
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Wargrave also remembers Armstrong and thinks he is, like all doctors, a damn fool. Wargrave tells... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Everyone feels better and starts to enjoy themselves after dinner. Wargrave is amusing, Mr. Blore (pretending to be Davis) discusses South Africa; Mr. Lombard continues to... (full context)
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...and a thud as Mrs. Rogers faints. Everyone starts frantically asking what happened and only Wargrave and Miss Brent seem unmoved. (full context)
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Wargrave looks around the room and opens a door where he finds a gramophone on a... (full context)
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Wargrave asks Rogers if he put the record on. Mr. Rogers tells them that he was... (full context)
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Wargrave then takes charge and the room becomes a court of law. Everyone tries to pool... (full context)
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Wargrave then turns to Mr. Blore and says that his given name, Davis, was not mentioned... (full context)
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Wargrave agrees, and points out that the initials given U. N. Owen can be easily turned... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Wargrave continues the impromptu court session and shows his own proof: the letter from Lady Constance... (full context)
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Wargrave explains away the accusation placed against him: he was the judge for the case of... (full context)
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...the group thinks that the speaker must be lying. After the evidence has been presented, Wargrave suggests that they should try to leave as soon as possible. Rogers tells him that... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Wargrave, alone in his room, thinks of Seton. He remembers how much he enjoyed the case:... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Mr. Rogers then comes in and Wargrave asks him what time the motorboat normally comes to the island. Rogers tell shim about... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...Armstrong comes outside to talk to someone about the situation on the island. He sees Wargrave but decides he doesn't want to speak with him and instead chooses Lombard. They go... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Miss Brent sits on the porch knitting and Vera avoids her. Wargrave also sits on the porch and when Vera looks at him she images that she... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Armstrong says that Macarthur was killed by being hit with a life preserver. Wargrave now takes over the conversation. Wargrave says that he has been sitting all morning thinking... (full context)
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Vera is shocked but Miss Brent believes that Wargrave's theory is true: one of them is possessed by the devil. Blore blurts out that... (full context)
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Wargrave says that there can be no exceptions based on “character, position, or probability” they must... (full context)
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Because they cannot figure anything out from the first two murders, Wargrave decides to move on to the third. They go through each of their alibis. Everyone... (full context)
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Wargrave gives his final summation in which he says that no one person stands out as... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Vera says she can't see Lombard as the murderer either. Lombard thinks that it is Wargrave because he has played God as a judge for so long that this must have... (full context)
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Dr. Armstrong is talking to Wargrave, saying that they must escape. Wargrave responds that it's very unlikely that a boat could... (full context)
Chapter 12
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After breakfast Wargrave suggests that they all meet in the drawing room in a half an hour to... (full context)
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Wargrave says that this isn't really proof and suggests that they should go get Miss Brent... (full context)
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...because the verse of the ten little soldier rhyme mentions being stung by a bee. Wargrave asks if anyone brought a syringe into the house and Armstrong says that he did.... (full context)
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Armstrong claims that someone must have taken it. Wargrave suggests that they all put whatever drugs or weapons they have in a safe place... (full context)
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...The syringe had been carefully wiped. They decide to search for the revolver again and Wargrave says that they should all stay together for safety. They do not find the revolver. (full context)
Chapter 13
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...the weather will clear up at some point and then they can try to leave. Wargrave says that they just must be very careful. (full context)
Death Theme Icon
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...no one has been running the engine that keeps the lights on since Rogers died. Wargrave has seen some candles in the larder and Lombard goes to get them. (full context)
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All of a sudden Vera asks where Wargrave is. They realize he didn't follow them up the stairs and go to check on... (full context)
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Lombard remarks that Wargrave's act of playing court is over. Vera says that just this morning Lombard thought that... (full context)
Chapter 14
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After they carry Wargrave's body up to bed, they all stand around the kitchen eating canned tongue mechanically. Vera... (full context)
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...“We must be very careful,” but stops when Blore tells him this is exactly what Wargrave said earlier. (full context)
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Blore sits in his room and thinks about how cocky Wargrave had been. But even with all his self professed wisdom and care he had died.... (full context)
Epilogue 1
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...and no survivors. Legge wants to know who killed them, but there's very little evidence. Wargrave and Lombard were shot, Miss Brent and Marston died of cyanide poisoning, Mrs. Rogers died... (full context)
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...the accusations against all of the guests on the island. He mentions that Seton, who Wargrave convicted, was found later to really have been guilty. He also says that Isaac Morris... (full context)
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...from the diaries kept on the island by Vera, Emily Brent and some notes by Wargrave and Blore. The death occurred in this order: Marston, Mrs. Rogers, Miss Brent, Wargrave. Blore... (full context)
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Another piece of evidence is that the revolver was found in Wargrave's room with fingerprints on it. Then it seems like Vera could have pushed the statue... (full context)
Epilogue 2
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...from the old woman in their care, but he had no way of proving it. Wargrave then realized that this was his opportunity to commit the perfect murder. (full context)
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...Morris as the tenth victim. He was a dope peddler who had gotten one of Wargrave's friend's daughters to take drugs. The girl then committed suicide at 21. (full context)
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...worked, and each of the guests arrived on August 8th. To take care of Morris, Wargrave gave him a pill, which he said was for indigestion, and told him to take... (full context)
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Wargrave chose the order of his victims very carefully. He believes that there were differing levels... (full context)
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Macarthur did not hear Wargrave sneak up behind him and his death was quite painless. Wargrave knew that he now... (full context)
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On the morning of August 10th Wargrave killed Rogers while he was chopping sticks. While they were looking for Rogers, Wargrave slipped... (full context)
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Next he convinced Armstrong that he (Wargrave) needed to be the next victim because this would rattle the murderer, who wouldn't expect... (full context)
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Armstrong and Wargrave met in the middle of the night and Wargrave led Armstrong far away from the... (full context)
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Wargrave then writes that he forgot to mention that he returned the revolver to Lombard's room.... (full context)
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...and one of them would have a revolver. When Blore came up to the house, Wargrave pushed the marble clock onto him. From the window he watched Vera shoot Lombard and... (full context)
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Wargrave writes that he thinks this is an interesting psychological experiment: would she cave to her... (full context)
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...have been something strange going on. 3. A symbolic reason: the mark of Cain on Wargrave's head. (full context)
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After throwing the letter into sea, Wargrave writes that he will go up to his room and attach an elastic cord to... (full context)
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...ten dead bodies and an unsolved mystery on Soldier Island. He signs the letter: Lawrence Wargrave. (full context)