Macarthur vascillates back and forth about whether he wants to leave the island or not. He is at first is "interested" to see Indian Island, and to "enjoy a chat about old times" with the "one or two of (his) old cronies" whom he had been informed would be there too. Although he does not quite remember "this fellow Owen", from whom the invitation has come, he is looking forward to visiting the island, which he has heard has been built by an American millionaire, and affords "every mortal luxury" (Chapter 1, Part 5).
By the time the guests are settled in their rooms on the island, however, Macarthur is uneasy enough about the whole situation to want to leave the island. He says to himself, "For two pins he'd make an excuse and get away...throw up the whole business" (Chapter 2, Part 11).
Later, after the really strange happenings on the island begin, Macarthur realizes suddenly that "he (doesn't) want to leave the island". He has experienced a good deal of sorrow in his life; his wife had earlier left him for another man, a soldier under Macarthur's command whom Macarthur had subsequently sent to his death, and since then, Macarthur had lived a life of loneliness and fear that his deed would be exposed. Macarthur finds that, despite the strange and sinister goings-on there, the isolation of the island affords him a kind of refuge from "all the troubles and worries". With a sense of resignation and acceptance of impending doom, Macarthur decides that he no longer "want(s) much to get away from the island" (Chapter 3, Part 5).
Vera Claythorne had fallen in love with a man named Hugo in the past. Hugo had told her he loved her, but had said that he could not ask her to marry him because he had no money. His nephew Cyril, with whose care Vera was charged, stood in the way of Hugo being able to inherit a fortune. Apparently, Hugo's professed love for Vera was false, however. After Cyril's death by drowning, Hugo had disappeared, and Vera realized that she never knew whom he really was (Chapter 5, Part 6).