With kind dignity Greenleaf predicted their undoubted return to the craft next morning. Strange was the difference between this scene and the one in which, eighteen months before, these two had last been together in this room. The sentry there knew the story and enjoyed it. In fact, most of the blue occupants of the despoiled place had a romantic feeling, however restrained, for each actor in that earlier episode. Yet there was resentment, too, against Greenleaf’s clemencies.
“Wants?” said the bedless captive to his old chum, “no, thank you, not a want!” implying, with his eyes, that the cloud overhanging Greenleaf for favors shown to—hmm!—certain others was already dark enough, “We’ve parlor furniture galore,” he laughed, pointing out a number of discolored and broken articles that had been beautiful. One was the screen behind which the crouching Flora had heard him tell the ruin of her Mobile home and had sworn revenge on this home and on its fairest inmate.
During the evening the prisoners grew a bit noisy, in song; yet even when their ditties were helped out by a rhythmic clatter of boot-heels and chair-legs the too indulgent Greenleaf did not stop them. The voices were good and the lines amusing not merely to the guards here and there but to most of their epauleted superiors who, with lights out for coolness, sat in tilted chairs on a far corner of the front veranda to catch the river breeze. One lay was so antique as to be as good as new:
“Our duck swallowed a snail,
And her eyes stood out with wonder.
Our duck swallowed a snail,
And her eyes stood out with wonder
Till the horns grew out of her tail, tail, tail,
And tore it All asunder.
“Our old horse fell into
Around behind the stable.
Our old horse fell into the well
Around behind the stable.
He couldn’t fall all the way but he fell,
As far as he was able.
It is here we may safest be brief. The literature of prison escapes is already full enough. Working in the soft mortar of so new a wall and worked by one with a foundryman’s knowledge of bricklaying, the murdered Italian’s stout old knife made effective speed as it kept neat time with the racket maintained for it. When the happiest man in New Orleans warily put head and shoulders through the low gap he had opened, withdrew them again and reported to his fellows, the droll excess of their good fortune moved the five to livelier song, and as one by one the other four heads went in to view the glad sight the five gave a yet more tragic stanza from the farewell to Jane. The source of their delight was not the great ragged hole just over the intruding heads, in the ceiling’s lath and plaster, nor was it a whole corner torn off the grand-piano by the somersaulting