About 3/4 of the way through Agatha Christie's 'And Then There Were None' (pub c.1940), is this paragraph, describing a book, or maybe a story in some other kind of format:

She broke off, went on: "I read a story once - about two judges that came to a  small American town from the Supreme Court. They administered justice - Absolute  Justice. Because - they didn't come from this world at all."

I'm curious at random, whether this passage described an actual book or short story, or perhaps whether a book or short story was written subsequently on that theme.

  • Or maybe it referred to some real-life event? (A useful possibility for people to bear in mind while researching this question.)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Feb 15, 2018 at 1:05
  • To me the qoute sounds almost religious. The Supreme Court could be that of a god, this would explain why 'they didn't come from this world at all'.
    – Mirte
    Feb 16, 2018 at 13:57
  • @Mirte - that's pretty much what I read it as, and took for granted. My question is, was Christie making an offhand reference to some other story - maybe an early sci-fi or who knows what, story - in the quote? It feels too much like "this is something out of her usual style", more like something she might have read and stored away,and alluded to offhand in her writing, to convey with more "colour" her character's state of mind as the unseen killer murders all the guests one by one.
    – Stilez
    Feb 16, 2018 at 18:07
  • I remember reading this: it was a short story, almost certainly American, and I think dating before the first World War.
    – Barnaby
    Apr 23, 2022 at 0:50

1 Answer 1


Mark Twain. I cannot name the exact story, but Christie is definitely referring to a work by Mark Twain. This was a theme throughout his work, and there are several judges who are only able to carry out justice by violating the law. The EXACT title of the correct story is no doubt in this book: Judges And Lawyers In the Tales of Mark Twain

  • 3
    Thanks for contributing this suggestion but as it stands there isn't enough information here to justify a full answer. Could you possibly edit to explain, with evidence, why you are so certain this is from a story by Twain and possibly try and get an e-loan or other access for the book in question to identify which story it is?
    – Matt Thrower
    Nov 22, 2023 at 9:38
  • I looked through the linked article. There is no story by Twain that matches the situation mentioned in the Christie novel.
    – verbose
    Dec 25, 2023 at 6:04

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