Ten Little Indians is a modern children's rhyme (sometimes "soldier boys" or "teddy bears" is used instead of Indians to avoid offense). The song, supra, is usually performed to the Irish folk tune "Michael Finnegan".
The rhyme was notable for being the inspiration for Agatha Christie
's And Then There Were None
The modern lyrics are believed to be public domain and are as follows:
- 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.
The original piece, then called "10 Little Injuns", was written by songwriter Septimus Winner in the 1860s for a minstrel show and was much more elaborate:
- 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.
- One little, two little, three little, four little, five little Injun boys,
- Six little, seven little, eight little, nine little, ten little Injun boys.
- 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 was the version of the song that was included in 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 into 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 was one.
- One little Indian boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.