A native Texan, DILLON ANDERSON established himself as one of the oldest young laicyers in Houston before he took time off for his fiction. In 1951, he published his first booh, I and Claudie, a salty Texas narrative of two happy wanderers who fortunately do not take themselves or their victims too seriously, (dint Hightower and his oxlike companion have adventured their way in and out of the oil country, Texas politics, hurricanes, revivals, and state fairs — and now they are off again.
by DILLON ANDERSON
CLAUDIE is a sucker for a bargain; turn him loose in a good-sized town with some money in his pocket, and there ain’t any telling what all he’ll buy up. Anything; just so it’s a bargain. That’s how Claudie came by such things as his imitation ivory mandolin pick — but he don’t own any mandolin; a silk watch fob; a dozen golf balls that he’s got about as much use for as a hog has with a handsaw; Bentley’s Revised Manual for Bird Watchers — all items no good at all to a man that can do only very manual labor and sing bass.
So I wasn’t surprised that night in Dallas when Claudie came back to our trailer house from losing his job at the saddle factory and brought nothing but two excursion tickets to Galveston and back. He’d spent all his pay except carfare on them.
“Only $3.98 apiece,” he said, “Good on all trains.”
“What is it. we are doing with these excursion tickets?” I put it to him straight. “What would we use for money in Galveston?”
“Kind of a bargain I’d never let get away,” said Claudie. proud of what he’d done.
Well, I am not a man to let anybody’s railroad get away with anything like that, and Claudie ought to’ve known it. So I asked him, “Did you happen to be so smart as to pick up a railroad timetable too?”
He pulled one out of his pocket and said, “The lady that sold me the tickets give me one free.”
I looked the timetable over and said, “Claudie, the next train for Galveston leaves Dallas at eleven tonight. Gets us there at seven in the morning. That’s the train we’ll take.”
Claudie said, “But—” Can you believe it? He’d never meant to go at all.
All I said was “Leave us not argue, Claudie. I’ve already decided for us to use up these here tickets. We might make out all right in Galveston after all. And these tickets are round trip. We won’t get stranded.”I was brushing the wrinkles out of my coat with the padded shoulders and out of the different-colored britches that I always wore with it. Claudie put on his double-breasted blue serge suit, and we packed my corn remedy along with our razor in Claudie’s wicker suitcase. Then, with the little money we’d have spent for a bite of supper, we got our shoes shined at a close-by barbershop and paid our carfare downtown. We got off in front of the Union Station stony broke.
What a mob there was at the train! And a band, too—playing loud patriotic music. They were sending off a lot of men and women that had big white “Delegate” badges on their coats, and as soon as I got up close enough to figure things out, I explained to Claudie what it was they were going to — the Annual Convention of the Texas Chamber of Commerce in Galveston, Texas — right where we were going, too.
When the porters all up and down the train started to holler “Board!” I and Claudie climbed right on. We looked up and down the car for some beds that hadn’t, been taken, but the delegates and their wives kept beating us to them, so we went through a green curtain marked “Men" at one end of the car and found ourselves in a little room with black leather seats and tin washbasins all around. It was a better deal—better by a damn sight — than fighting them aisles with the delegates that seemed to know their way around on the train. Also, it gave us a chance to clean up a little, which I did, and shaved too, while Claudie tried to get a drink of water out of a little spigot on the basin.
It was about this time that two conductors came into the little room and asked us for our tickets. Claudie forked the excursion tickets over, and the conductor said, “Now let’s have your Pullman tickets.”
“Give the man everything you’ve got, Claudie,” I said, “except the part of the tickets that will get us back from Galveston.”
“But I did,” Claudie told me. “He’s even got that part right now, but he’ll never get out of the room with it.” In Claudie’s voice I could tell his dander was getting up.
“Here is the return portion of your tickets,” the conductor was saying in a sassy way as he handed them to Claudie. “Now you will have to go ahead to the chair car — fourth car forward.”
I looked around and Claudie was standing in the corner bracing himself like a man that was not about to go to any chair car. “We’re not bothering nobody in here,” he said.
“At Waxahachie,” one conductor said to the other one, “we’ll call the officers and put these bums off.”
This riled me and I said, “Listen, mister. Between here and Waxahachie you are fixing to have the roughest ride since you started conducting if you don’t leave my partner there alone.”
“One more time—” the talking conductor said, and he was red as a beet in the face, “do you go to the chair car or not?”
“And why should these folks go to the chair car?” somebody said in a raw red whiskey voice as he came through the curtains marked “Men.” He was a big citizen — nearly as tall as Claudie himself — and he was wearing a long “Delegate” ribbon on the lapel of his coat. He had a round brancolored face, nice friendly eyes, and more sandy hair in his eyebrows than he had on his head.
“What’s the trouble, fellows?” he asked us, paying the conductors no more mind than he did the washbasins.
“The conductors don’t like our tickets,” I told him.
“Why, that’s an outrage,”he said to us and the conductors. Then to the conductors only he said, “ In Texas, people do not push other people around on trains or anywhere else. You’d better leave these delegates alone or the Chamber will ride some other railroad next time.” And at this he pulled two big silk “Delegate” ribbons out of his pocket and pinned them right on Claudie and me — just like that.
As the conductors backed up toward the curtains, one of them said, “Okay, we’ll see you in Waxahachie if you’re not in the chair car by then.”
‘You’ll do nothing of the sort,” our new friend told him as he reached in his overcoat pocket and pulled out a quart bottle that was still over half full. “Now go peddle your chair cars somewhere else. We’re just before having a little drink in here,” he yelled at the conductors as they ducked back through the curtains.
Well, I’ve run across some danged nice people in my time — some bartenders, Salvation Army captains, and one mayor of Dallas — but the best of the lot would look downright crummy if you put him alongside Cecil, our friend on the train. Cecil Snavely his name was, and he was a prince from the word go.
“Don’t stint yourselves, fellows,” he said when he passed us the bottle; “there’s more where that came from.” Then, when we’d all had a drink around, he passed the bottle again and said, “Here’s the other half of that first drink.”
My, but he was cordial to be no drunker than he was. He had the outside pocket of his coat stuffed with big black cigars, and we smoked along as we drank. I could tell that Cecil was used to good strong cigars, and when he smoked he’d put as much of the cigar in his mouth — down one side — as the part he’d leave dry so it could burn. And these cigars were so strong that they near about choked me and Claudie down, but we’d have smoked them or bust, that night on the train.
Later Cecil said, “Time for another drink, fellows; a bird cannot fly on one wing.” We all laughed and had another.
It will show you how much pull Cecil had with the railroad when I point out that later on the conductors called “Waxahachie next stop” out there in the hall, but neither one of them so much as stuck his head back through the curtains marked “Men.”
Cecil went on then and told us a very sad story about himself; about how he’d come to be nearly fifty years of age already, and hadn’t found himself a woman yet that was for marrying him — at least not one that he himself had wanted to marry, He admitted that there was one he’d been trying to keep company with for several years, but she was so dadburned cultured and civic that she wouldn’t have him. She lived in Wichita Falls, only fifteen miles from Burkburnett where Cecil himself lived: she was nearly as old as Cecil was, but she spent all her time organizing musicales, bazaars, and rummage sales, speaking to literary societies, and heading drives to raise money for beautifying Wichita Falls. Cecil went on to say he was only a used-ear dealer in Burkburnett for years, and hardly in the lady’s league, but even when he sold out and bought an agency that didn’t sell any kind of cars except brand spanking new ones, she still wouldn’t have much of anything to do with him. Eleanora Jenkins was her name, Cecil said, and her old man had been in the Texas legislature at one time, so I could see how Cecil was outclassed, no matter what kind of cars he sold.
By this time I was feeling so sorry for Cecil I was about stone-cold sober. I looked at Claudie, the big clumsy oaf, and, sure enough, there he sat, leaning back against the black leather with his watch fob showing over the pocket with no watch in it and never had been, with the silk “Delegate" badge pinned uneven on his coat lapel, and with great big tears running right down his wide cheeks. When Cecil saw this, he said didn’t we want a nightcap, since by then it was around two-thirty or maybe three o’clock in the morning and time for people to turn in.
“You bet we do.” I spoke for Claudie too, and we all had another neighborly drink together.
I think I’d have suspected Cecil of being pretty drunk there on the train if the things he kept on saving hadn’t been so true to life. I mean like what he told us about true friends. “True friends are the finest thing in the world,“ Cecil said over and over; and I told him I and Claudie were really his friends all right. “Matter ol fact, I said, “we’ve never run across a finer friend than you in the whole dadblamed state of Texas. Med like to do something for you just to show you how much we think of you.”
“You’ve done it already,” he insisted. “I was awful blue and lonely when I got on the train tonight. You see, the other two delegates from Burkburnett called their trip off at the last minute. They’re Eleanora’s brothers — the ones that run the chicken ranch — and they were going to be mv guests. Now you fellows will have to lake their place all the way.”
“It’s a pleasure,” I said, and Claudie nodded.
It turned out that Cecil had a whole room — Drawing Room “A — in that same car, and it had plenty of space for us all three to sleep.
“Cecil,” I stated, “you are a real gentleman and a true friend.”
WHEN I woke up in the top bed the next morning the train was stopped and Cecil was in the little room next door shaving. Claudie was sitting there scratching himself awake on the shelf that the porter had made into a bunk for him to sleep on. They were whispering something about how warm it was in Galveston for November. That’s how dadgummed nice Cecil was; he’d only whispered to Claudie until he found I was awake. real
“True friends,”he said again, “are the finest thing in the world. Where you fellows stopping?”
“We haven’t exactly made up our minds,” I answered.
“That’s good, he said. “I’ve got a whole suite at the Galvez, and you’ve got to stay with me.”
“I will if Clint will,” Claudie said.
“We sure do thank you,” I told him. “Matter of fact, we might have stayed at the Galvez anyhow.
“I don’t know how,” Claudie muttered to himself, and I froze him with a stony look.
By this time Cecil had finished shaving. He splashed his face with some strong-smelling green water like they have in only the best barbershops; then he made us agree to ride back with him to Dallas on the same car that night. “It’ll be right here at eleven,” he told us. “We’ll meet on the car after the banquet.” We agreed to do it, and as the porter gave Claudie’s double-breasted blue serge suit a good hard brushing, we fired up three of Cecil’s big black cigars.
But at the Galvez it was too much, when we got ourselves into the plushy rooms Cecil had there, to go eat breakfast on him too. We’d all drunk a lot of the ice water that Cecil ordered up to the suite when he said, “Let’s go down to the dining room and have some scrambled eggs and ham.”
“No, much obliged,” I told him, as all-fired hungry as I was. “You go ahead. I and Claudie ve got some folks we’d better look lip first thing.
“Sure you won’t come onf”
“Believe nof, thanks,” I said.
After Cecil left, I and Claudio sat there for a while in big soft chairs watching the bright blue ocean waves boiling themselves soapy white on the sandy beach, Claudie spoke of being hungry as a she-wolf, and I told him to forget it and look at the ocean while I took a little time to think.
There was another big hotel close by — the Buccaneer — so I pointed out that we might try picking up a bite of breakfast there for washing the dishes or mopping some floors or the like — the sort of thing Claudio can do as well as the next one. Claudie said he was ready, so we drank the rest of the ice water and went over to the Buccaneer. We wore our “Delegate” badges, and when we walked into the Buccaneer lobby, two fine ladies met us like long-lost friends.
“You’re late,” they said, sort of accusing, but — you know —not really put out. They were very clean and well-dressed women, both a little on the heavy-set side of middle age, and they had on badges that said “Chamber of Commerce — Ladies Auxiliary.”
“We’ve already started the Auxiliary breakfast,” the biggest one with a pompadour hairdo and steel-rimmed glasses said. “ We were afraid you men would be shy about representing the Chamber where we girls have you so badly outnumbered.
She led us into a big dining room where we saw at least an acre of women eating breakfast and not another man in sight. They all cheered when we walked in, and the two ladies that got us first marched us right, up to a platform at the far end of the room where a dozen or so women sat at a long table eating away at big breakfasts. They put us in two of the six vacant seats at the long table, and there was where I and Claudie ate all the ham and eggs and jam that some dressed-up darkies brought us. Lots of hot coffee, too.
It was a larrapin’ breakfast, and we’d about eaten our fill when in came another guy that got cheered and led right up to our table too. He was a bouncy roundish citizen of about twenty-five, with pink cheeks, bright eyes, slicked-back yellow hair, and a lot of big teeth showing as he smiled at everybody. Oh, but he was feisty, and just above his “Delegate” badge he was wearing another little dinkus that said “Executive Director” in gold letters.
He took up one of the vacant chairs next to us; he grinned wide, shook hands with both of us, and said how glad he was to meet us; he asked how we were, and before we could tell him, he asked us how we’d been. I was ready to say “Fine,”but he was still ahead of me. His name, he said, was Elbert P. Jarvis, but everybody called him Booster; then he told us all over again that he was glad to meet us, but by this time he was seeing ladies out in the dining room that he must have known before, since he was smiling big and bowing to them here and there. Booster had a look on his face just like a little-bitty guy that has caught a great big fish.
SOON everybody was through eating, and I was wondering why the thing didn’t break up when a lady about four seats from ours tinkled her glass with a knife or fork and said she was calling us all to order. Things quieted down at this, and I got the first full look at the lady talking.
She was pretty special; that was plain from the first glance. She had a lot of even curls the color of sulphur arranged on her head, and in them she wore a brown comb that sparkled on the side next to me. She had big blue eyes and an open face that looked soft and forty-odd, and from the side she was shaped like a pigeon in the spring of the year — topheavy.
“Greetings,” she said in a hearty voice, “and welcome. As incoming president of ihe Ladies Auxiliary of the Texas Chamber of Commerce it is my pleasure and privilege to open the meeting and introduce our guest speaker. But first we have a special treat.”Then she went on to say that the hint had been pul out to the Chamber that as many as six members could come to the Auxiliary breakfast, sort of as observers and special guests. But shyness, she pointed out, must have overtaken the others. At this she nodded our way and said, “Please present yourselves, gentlemen. We are proud and pleased to have you with us.”
“Clint. Hightower, a delegate from North Texas,” I told the acre of well-scrubbed ladies; “and on my right here is my associate, Claudie Hughes. He does not wish to get up and talk, but he will sing ‘The Eyes of Texas’ for you.”
All the ladies smiled and cheered as Claudie got up. He was baffled at first, like he often is when my mind works as fast as it did that morning, but with a big breakfast under his belt that way, and dressed up in his blue serge suit, and all, I knew he’d come through, and he did. It’s a good thing for a real bass singer to have a lot of women around when he’s called on for a song, and Claudie proved it right there at the Buccaneer. His voice filled the room like water fills a bucket, and when he was done I thought the applause would never die down.
Next, the lady president pointed out that the affairs of the Ladies Auxiliary were in such good shape that the breakfast was the only meeting they needed to have all day, but, of course, all the ladies were invited to the final banquet of the real Chamber that night. Then she named the new members of the Auxiliary Committees and asked them all to stand up to be cheered.
After that was over, she introduced the feisty little Executive Director and said he really needed no introduction because he was so prominent; he was a well-known live wire, Booster Jarvis, the Executive Director of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the person whom we would have the privilege of hearing next.
Booster Jarvis stood up, showed his teeth from ear to ear, and shook his own hands over his head like prizefighters do when they haven’t lost a single round. He told the Ladies Auxiliary about what the Junior Chamber of Commerce had done during the past year, and it was a hell of a lot — coördinating efforts; keeping in touch with developments; and always putting the old shoulder to the wheel. They’d been having committee meetings, he went on, and subcommittee reports. They’d been cooperating with some people and standing squarely behind others; viewing some things with alarm and gixing unqualified support to some other things. They’d been rough on people who were against betterment all year. But all this good stuff was lost on the Ladies Auxiliary; they’d heard Claudie sing about Texas. Most of them weren’t taking their eyes off Claudie, and even Booster Jarvis could see it as he went on and on. He got only a little spatter of cheers when he came to the best part of his speech—the part about how not a single member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce in the whole stale of Texas would admit that there was another state in the Union that could so much as hold a candle to the state of Texas,
After a while it got so everything Booster said sounded just about like what he’d been saying before, and my mind strayed back to Cecil Suavely and all the things he’d told us the night before about Eleanora Jenkins that wouldn’t have him; then I noticed Booster had quit talking so loud and turned to softer subjects. He was talking about the new president of the Ladies Auxiliary. Where I picked his talk back up was: “And, ladies of the Ladies Auxiliary, I am sure that no one is more responsible for the fine degree of coöperation between the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Chamber, or for the accomplishments of both groups too numerous to mention here, than your incoming president. What a tower of strength she has been in the Ladies Auxiliary! What a grasp she has shown of the many problems the Auxiliary has solved! And now you have crowned her efforts with the highest, office in your power to bestow. On behalf of the Jaycees all over this great state, I salute her — Eleanora Jenkins!”
As fast, as my mind works, it must have been a second or so before it all hit me. I mean like a ton of bricks. Here was the big blonde that wouldn’t have our friend Cecil Suavely because Cecil wasn’t civic or social enough. Then, seeing all those women still stuck on Claudie for his singing, and the stuff about to go to waste, another of my ideas struck me like electricity. Why not run Cecil Suavely for president of the Chamber of Commerce? The women had been won over by Claudie; and any program we could sell them, they ought to be able to sell to the men. It was plain that here was the way to get Eleanora for Cecil.
So when the cheering after Booster Jarvis’s speech died down, I got up and spoke to the Ladies Auxiliary. “You ladies might have wondered what I and Claudie are here for, and I’m about to tell you. We’re campaign managers for Cecil Snavely of Burkburnett. He’s running for president of the Texas Chamber of Commerce. Would you ladies like another song from Claudie Hughes, the Assistant Campaign Manager?”
The way they all cheered told me they would, so Claudie got up and sang them “Beauliful, Beautiful Texas.” He wasn’t scared this time; I could tell he knew he was singing Cecil into a happy home, and Claudie outdid himself. It wowed everybody, except possibly Booster Jarvis, who sat there at the table with nothing but the sickly dregs of a big smile left on his face.
RIGHT after this the meeting broke up. I and Claudie worked our way through the Women that were all bragging on Claudie’s singing. They kept trapping him with their gush until I got tired. With too many women around, a man can be about as lonesome as he is by himself, so I went on back to the Galvez Hotel. There wasn’t anybody there except several hundred delegates telling each other how glad they were to see each other and what fine fellows they all were, as I went on back up to our suite, Cceil was sitting there alone with pretty bloodshot eves. He’d heard about the campaign we’d started, and while he wasn’t exactly against it, he said he didn’t believe he would be a very good president of the Texas Chamber of Commerce.
“That don’t make a damn, Cecil, I told him. “You can’t be too meek about this thing. The meek can afford, like in the Bible, to wait around until they inherit the earth, but at your age it’s no way for a man to win out with the likes of Eleanora Jenkins. She’ll be glad to have you when you’re president. You should have seen how glad she was when she heard we were going to run you for president of the Chamber.”
“Eleanora?” he asked, and he looked scared, I thought. “Where’s she?”
“Eleanora’s right here in Galveston, Cecil,
I told him. “I and Claudie just had breakfast with her — and the others in the Ladies Auxiliary. She’s the new president.”
On this last item Cecil looked like a man that needed some kind of a prop to hold him up; it was too much and it plainly had him licked; Cecil, that had been hell on wheels the night before with those conductors, was stalled with four flat tires. I’m afraid,” he said, ”I haven’t got much of a chance. Those executive directors pull all the wires in the Chamber, and they’ve got Dennis Derryberry of Galveston picked for president. You see, Clint, I know something about. Chamber polities.
“But not about women,” I said. “You admit that yourself. Leave it to the women and me. We don’t need to do another thing; it’s in the bag.”
Cecil then dug a couple of at least fifty-cent cigars out of his pocket for us to smoke, and gave me a ticket and one for Claudie too that would get us into the big banquet that night at the Galvez ballroom. Seven o’clock sharp, they said on both sides. Then Cecil left to go to a meeting of some kind of a subcommittee of the Chamber that he admitted he wasn’t even chairman of.
After Cecil had gone, I just happened to glance out of the window of our suite. I looked down on the lawn there in front of the Galvez where palms and oleanders were growing around the stone benches. And sitting there on one of the benches was old ham-handed Claudie, looking better in his blue serge suit than he’d ever looked before, by a damn sight; also, sitting not very far away on the same stone bench was Eleanora Jenkins,
I went right down, so as to waste no time at all about telling Claudie a thing or two. But when I got there I found I was on the wrong side of a little hedge in the Galvez front yard; their bench was on the other side of it, and I could hear them talking — Eleanora, that is. Claudie was only saying, “Yes, ma’am,” every so often as Eleanora told him what fine folks hers were; how all her ancestors had belonged to the aristocracy back in Virginia before they’d come to Texas.
If Eleanora had ever stopped talking long enough to listen to Claudie, she could have seen he was not somebody that she could make very much of an impression on — even a good one. But she never did let up. Why, even when she’d wind up with one subject she’d say “and” or “but” before she paused for another breath, so there was never any place for Claudie to come in. And this, of course, was just his dish. For being too stupid to think up anything at all to say, he was getting credit for being too polite to interrupt her, and very aristocratic, as well, I supposed. For that and for running under Cecil I could have slit his throat.
After a while they walked off toward the East Beach where all those tourist courts were, and I went over and sat for a long time on the stone bench where they’d been sitting. I looked at the path of the winter sun on the ocean, slick and shiny, a little way out from the beach, like a fresh-peeled onion, and I thought and thought. I mean about Cecil and what a hell of a life that would be for him if he got hitched up with all that talk. I figured maybe it would about serve Claudie right if he did run under Cecil and take Eleanora away from him. Then I thought also: “Look, Clint, who is this you are being, God or the Federal Government or somebody deciding for Cecil what he wants and what is good for him:”
IT WAS a lot later, and the sun’s path across the ocean had turned the color of polished brass, when 1 noticed Eleanora and Claudie strolling up from the East Beach. As they got nearer I could see that she was talking still. Her head was held high, and she had a very joyful look on her face. Claudie seemed to be all tuckered out. Even his “Delegate" badge looked limp.
They walked right into the Galvez together in broad open daylight, and I thought, “Suppose they meet up with our friend Cecil? That will really be the pay-off, now won’t it?”
Bight then nothing I could think of to do seemed quite good enough to do it, so I didn’t move a peg from where I sat until I saw by the clock inside the Galvez that it was a quarter of seven and the banquet only fifteen minutes off.
I went up to Cecil’s suite and nobody was there —not even Claudie. I shaved and bathed and sprinkled some of Cecil’s green toilet water on my face and hair; then I got dressed for the banquet. It was after seven, and I was about to leave when I discovered Claudie’s wicker suitcase had a dozen or more of Cecil’s fifty-cent cigars in it, and I said to myself, “Now, Clint, by God, you’ve seen everything! First, it’s Cecil’s girl Claudie swipes, and then it’s his cigars.”
When I went down to the banquet room, the only seat I could find was way off in one corner with some friendly people from Goose Creek. I tried to locate Eleanora or Cecil, or even Claudie, but my back was to most of the banquet, and by that time it didn’t seem to make much difference anyway.
After all the delegates had eaten their fill, the president of the Chamber, a big bushy-headed guy with a booming voice, got up and started calling on people here and there to stand and be introduced, Everybody was cheering for everybody else. This went, on for nearly two hours, and by the time they got through, I didn’t notice anybody in the whole banquet hall that hadn’t been cheered except possibly my own self—and, of course, Claudie. I still hadn’t seen him anywhere.
Finally — and it was late — they got to the business of the meeting. Somebody up front rose and nominated Dennis Derryberry of Galveston, Texas, for president of the Texas Chamber. And before you could bat an eye somebody else up there moved that the nominations be closed. It was like sheet lightning in April, it was so fast. I stood up, but by the time I could they were all saying “Aye,” and Dennis Derryberry was the new president. They’d given Cecil the old steam roller, and with not caring a tinker’s damn about who was vice president — or secretary or treasurer either—I got disgusted with it all and left.
I asked one of the bellboys the way to the stat ion, and since I didn’t have any money on me personally, I walked.
When I got to Drawing Room “ A ” of our car, I went in to take some weight off of my feet — my corns were killing me by this time — and there was Claudie, already asleep on his bunk. He had on all his clothes but his shoes and his watch fob that were on his wicker suitcase by the bunk.
“Wake up, Claudie,” I yelled and shook him hard. “I’ve got to talk to you before Cecil gets back to the car.”
“He ain’t gonna —” Claudie started to say, and I cut him off with “Just what kind of a deal is this anyhow—you running under our friend Cecil? Also you can tell me now about them cigars of Cecil’s in your suitcase.”
“Cigars?" Claudie asked, rolling his eyes. That was the whole trouble. He still wasn’t awake enough to a bit of sense.
“Cecil didn’t get elected, after all,” I told him.
“That don’t matter, Clint,” he said. “Eleanora didn’t keer whether Cecil was president or not. All she wanted was Cecil the way he wars. But she couldn’t stand them strong cigars he smoked — or the way he smoked ’em.”
“Claudie,” I accused him, “you’re lying to me.”
“Well, she’s Mrs. Cecil Snavely now,”he grinned. “I was the witness at the wedding, and when Cecil swore off of cigars for life, he give ‘em all to me.”
The train was moving by this time, and Claudie was plainly pooped out but happy. Before he went back to sleep, he kept saying to himself, “Fiftycent cigars, too. What a bargain!”