At the Hotel Carlton, a man named Rod Blakley enters the lobby and asks Hey Boy if Paladin lives in the hotel. Hey Boy prepares to go up to Paladin's suite, and Hey Boy says that Paladin gave orders not to be disturbed. He goes up to Paladin's suite and Rod goes with him. Rod barges in and finds Paladin with a young woman, Della. The man shows Paladin his card and says that he wants to hire him for $1,000. Paladin says that he's busy, and Rod grabs his arm and demands that Paladin hear him out. After a moment, Paladin punches Rod unconscious and has Hey Boy put him into a room. Once he leaves, Paladin takes the woman out to see the Barbary Coast.
The next morning, Paladin meets with Rod. Rod apologizes and says that he lost his head, and explains that he was going to marry a woman, Faye. He was ramrodder for Pete Hollister, who sent him to Texas to buy some cattle. When Rod returned, Faye was now married to Pete. Faye was a singer in Fresno, and Rod figures that Pete forced her into marriage. Pete paid Rod a year's wages and had him thrown off the ranch, and he never got a chance to talk to Faye. He just wants Paladin to get him in so he can talk to Faye and find out if she's Pete's prisoner, and only needs ten minutes. Paladin agrees but warns that he's not being hired to break up another man's marriage.
Rod and Paladin ride to the Hollister ranch and find a closed gate. They go in and two men ride up. Rod explains that they're the ones who jumped him the last time. The leader, Curley, says that there's a law against Rod being on the ranch. Rod says he's going in and pulls Curley off his horse. When Curley and the other man go for their guns, Paladin shoots them out of their hands. He has them take him and Rod to Pete, and tells Rod to go around the back and talk to Faye while he talks to Pete.
Pete comes out and Paladin introduces himself. He says that he's just there to talk for ten minutes, and Rod is with Faye. Rod comes out and says that Faye is gone, and Pete says that Faye heard that Rod was coming and asked Pete to hide her out. When he tells Rod to grow up, Rod attacks him and Pete punches him. Paladin casually draws his gun, and Pete lets Rod up. Rod insists that he's going to see Faye no matter what, and Pete tells them to both get off his ranch.
Later, Paladin and Rod sneak back onto the ranch and hear Faye singing in a barn. Paladin knocks out the guard and they drag him inside. Once they tie him up, Paladin hacks off the lock on the door to the next room. Faye says that she's glad to see Rod, and Paladin gives them their ten minutes alone. The singer says that tried to run away to San Francisco, but Pete caught her and has kept her locked up ever since. Rod promises to take her to San Francisco if she'll marry him.
Paladin comes back in and says that they've noticed the guard is missing. Pete arrives outside and yells at Faye to come in, and Faye says that she'll leave Pete if Rod agrees to get him off the ranch. Rod and Paladin go to the barn's main room, and Rod figures that they'll have to shoot their way out. Paladin says that he knows a better way.
When they don't come out, Pete gives them two minutes to surrender. When the time runs out, Paladin rides out on a carriage with a bundle in the back. Pete tells his men not to shoot for fear of hitting his wife, and they ride off after Paladin. Meanwhile, Paladin rides off the ranch and locks the gate behind him, and then continues on. They come to the overturned carriage and find the bundle and discover that it's a bag of rock salt and some blankets.
Later back at the Carlton, Hey Boy tells Paladin that Rod is back and waiting in Paladin's room. When Paladin goes up, he wonders how Rod is going to support Faye while she's waiting for a divorce. Faye is in the most opulent suite in the Carlton, and Paladin figures that the most important thing to her is launching her opera career. Rod tries to pay Paladin off, and Paladin asks what he's going to do when Pete gets there.
Faye comes in from the hairdresser, and Paladin points out that she's wearing an expensive dress. Rod says that it's fine that she charged it to his account, and Faye explains that her teacher arranged an audition with her for the opera company. Paladin offers to put in a word with his friend, Senor Vittorio Bottelini, and arrange a private audition. He also offers to accompany her as well, and chuckles when he hears what song she plans to sing. Paladin turns on the charm, complimenting her full-body voice, and suggests that she sing The Marriage of Figaro. He advises her to get some rest and kisses her hand, and Rod watches the entire thing with mounting dismay. Once Paladin leaves, Faye says that it's wonderful that Paladin knows Bottelini.
Later, Paladin tells Hey Boy that Bottelini will come in looking for him, and he'll be at the Old Theater at 3 pm that afternoon. Paladin is soon playing for Faye. Pete comes in and finds Rod in the audience, and Rod tells him to let Faye finish and they'll settle things afterward. Pete agrees and sits, while Bottelini takes in Faye's performance. Once she's done, Bottelini talks to Paladin privately. The impresario leaves and Faye insists that she's going on with her performance. Paladin says that perhaps with five or six years of intensive training, Faye might be ready. He warns that being a good singer requires hard work and humility, and Pete asks where she's going to get money. Rod says that he'll have a ranch in a couple of years, but Faye doesn't want to hear of it. She dismisses Rod as a cheap tinhorn and says that he makes her sick with his talk of true love.
Paladin sarcastically applauds and congratulates Faye on her performance. He says that she's a spoiler woman, and Pete takes offense and leads her off. Paladin says that they deserve each other, and Pete grabs a pair of swords and goes at Paladin. When Rod tries to stop him, Pete knocks him aside and slashes at Paladin. Paladin leaps onto the stage, grabs a stick, and knocks Pete down. As he and Rod leave, Faye asks Pete if he's hurt. She admits that she's ambitious and would be grateful to Pete for any chance he can give her. Pete says that he'll do it but tells her not be grateful because he knows what he's bargaining for. Meanwhile, Rod pays Paladin off and says that it's the best money that he's ever spent.
The next day, Bottelini is at Paladin's suite giving him a trim. Paladin pays him for the haircut and his performance at the theater. When he says that Bottelini is a good actor, Bottelini says that he wasn't acting and Faye's singing really was that bad.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 17, 2016