Ten Little Indians
|"Ten Little Indians"|
The modern lyrics are:
- One little, two little, three little Indians
- Four little, five little, six little Indians
- Seven little, eight little, nine little Indians
- Ten little Indian boys.
- Ten little, nine little, eight little Indians
- Seven little, six little, five little Indians
- Four little, three little, two little Indians
- One little Indian boy.
The song sometimes begins with a repeated verse, "John Brown met a little Indian" before entering the well-known verses.
- Ten little Injuns standin' in a line,
- One toddled home and then there were nine;
- Nine little Injuns swingin' on a gate,
- One tumbled off and then there were eight.
- Eight little Injuns gayest under heav'n.
- One went to sleep and then there were seven;
- Seven little Injuns cuttin' up their tricks,
- One broke his neck and then there were six.
- Six little Injuns all alive,
- One kicked the bucket and then there were five;
- Five little Injuns on a cellar door,
- One tumbled in and then there were four.
- Four little Injuns up on a spree,
- One got fuddled and then there were three;
- Three little Injuns out on a canoe,
- One tumbled overboard and then there were two.
- Two little Injuns foolin' with a gun,
- One shot t'other and then there was one;
- One little Injun livin' all alone,
- He got married and then there were none.
This song was adapted, possibly by Frank J. Green in 1869, as "Ten Little Niggers" and became a standard of the blackface minstrel shows. It was sung by Christy's Minstrels and became widely known in Europe, where it was used by Agatha Christie in her novel of the same name. The novel was later retitled And Then There Were None (1939), and remains one of her most famous works, about ten killings on a remote island.
The following version of the song was included in the first film version of And Then There Were None (1945), which largely took Green's lyrics and replaced the already sensitive word "nigger" with "indian" (in some versions "soldiers"):
- 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 travelling 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.
- 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 playing in the sun;
- One got all frizzled up and then there was one.
- One little Indian boy left all alone;
- He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.
Because this song, and even the original term Indians, are politically sensitive, modern versions for children often use "soldier boys" or "teddy bears" as the objects of the rhyme.
The rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson includes a much darker song called "Ten Little Indians" that is modeled after this nursery rhyme.
Spring Awakening has a song titled "And Then There Were None."
The novel by Agatha Christie presently published under the title And Then There Were None is about this nursery rhyme.
Daemon Hall by Andrew Nance uses an adapted version of Ten Little Indians; each of the contestants is disqualified in a manner described in the beginning of the book. No one, unlike the song, is killed, and there are five contestants rather than ten. The song is also mentioned by several characters throughout the novel.
In the television series The Walking Dead, a dwindling group is referred to as "Ten Little Indians".
In England's Mickey Mouse Annual No. 6, the song was adapted into the comic "10 Little Mickey Kids", which is considered to possibly be the most violent Disney Comic ever. It depicted 10 little mouse babies who meet an unfortunate end until there are only two left.
- I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 333-4.
- P. V. Bohlman and O. Holzapfel, The folk songs of Ashkenaz (A-R Editions, 2001), p. 34.
- A. Light, Forever England: femininity, literature, and conservatism between the wars (London: Routledge, 1991), p. 243.
- A. Christie, Ten Little Indians (New York: Pocket Books, 1964).
- R. Riley, P. McAllister, J. Symonsm B. Cassiday., The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Agatha Christie (Continuum, 2001), pp. 144-5.
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