Delacroix gives four cents for the cigar box but, when Toot-Toot proves reluctant to sell it, Paul and Dean contribute some more money. Toot-Toot only agrees to sell the box after Brutal reminds him that, in light of Delacroix’s execution, this would merely be a loan, not a permanent purchase. Old Toot gives in and Delacroix receives his box, which Percy previously lines with cotton pads as promised. While Percy’s attitude seems generous and disinterested, Paul notices a look of ironic amusement in Percy’s eyes.
The comparison that Paul has already drawn between the characters of Toot-Toot and Percy becomes evident in this episode. Like Toot-Toot, Percy is incapable of performing a good deed in the name of kindness alone. Rather, both men expect to derive personal benefits from their acts—which is revealed through Percy’s ironic smile.
A week later, Delacroix calls the guards to show them Mr. Jingles’s latest trick. Paul arrives to see Mr. Jingles eating one of Delacroix’s peppermint candies, munching at it like an old lady. Paul finds the sight truly amusing, although the guards make sure to tell Delacroix that he should keep Mr. Jingles from eating too much candy and dying from indigestion. From that moment, it becomes common to see Mr. Jingles eating peppermint candies, munching on them like his owner.
Mr. Jingles’s presence gives Delacroix the opportunity to laugh, amuse himself, and form bonds with the guards. The mouse, in other words, gives Delacroix a reason to live. The affection that exists between the two is powerful. It demonstrates Delacroix’s capacity to care for another being, highlighting the fact that he is capable of love and compassion and should not be reduced to the status of a mere criminal.
A week later, Delacroix excitedly shows Paul a trick that Mr. Jingles can do with a wooden spool, which Delacroix has bought from Toot-Toot. Delacroix throws the spool on the floor and, looking at the spool with disconcerting intelligence, the mouse runs after it like a dog. After the spool rebounds against the wall, Mr. Jingles proceeds to push it back toward Delacroix. Amazed by this feat, Paul asks Delacroix how he taught the mouse this trick. Delacroix tells Paul that the mouse whispered it in his ear.
The mouse’s extraordinary intelligence is compounded by what Delacroix describes as his human-like powers of communication. While it remains unclear whether the mouse actually whispers words into Delacroix’s ear, the inmate suggests that he would not have thought of this trick on his own, and that the mouse played an important part in devising it.
A few days later, Harry brings Delacroix some Crayola crayons he has found in the restraint room, so that Delacroix might decorate his spool, to make the trick more like a circus act. Delacroix is delighted to think of his mouse as a circus mouse. Paul sees him so excited that he believes the man has never been so happy in his entire life. Over the next few days, Delacroix keeps on announcing his mouse’s tricks with the voice of a performer, and Paul notes that the mouse’s trick with the spool—which he admits could have indeed been part of a circus—is the guards’ main attraction for a while, until William Wharton’s arrival.
Harry’s gesture is remarkably kind and thoughtful, suggesting that the guards’ goal truly is to make the inmates content during their last days on Earth—and, perhaps, too, that everyone, guards included, are enjoying Mr. Jingles’s tricks. Paul’s comment about Delacroix’s happiness is unexpectedly sad, as it evokes what must have been deep unhappiness in the man’s earlier life. This further depicts the inmate as a vulnerable person, a man who has probably suffered as much as he has harmed.