At the Posada San Sebastian, a young boy Pedro is hitting a lizard with a stick when Paladin comes out. Pedro accidentally hits Paladin's foot and hastily apologizes. He then asks for money for the San Sebastian Mission, and Paladin gives him a bill. Paladin then goes back in and asks the clerk when the stage will be there. The clerk says that it will be there "any time" and directs Paladin to the pump in the back to wash up. Pedro watches through the window and then follows Paladin in and tries to steal his billfold. Paladin spots him and the boy quickly runs off.
Paladin goes out to the desk and confirms that the stage still hasn't arrived. He spots a poster put up by Ian Crown of the Black Angus Ranch, offering $100 for any information leading to the capture of Sancho Fernandez. Ian is sitting nearby and advises Paladin to carry a gun. He explains that Sancho has rustled 200 head of his prize beef in the last three months, and Paladin suggests that he raise the ante. When he reaches for his card, he discovers that his billfold is gone and realizes that Pedro took it.
At the mission, Sancho gives Father Bartolome the money from Paladin's billfold. Paladin quickly grabs him and explains that Pedro took the money. He asks for the $3,000 bank draft in it, and Pedro runs to get it where he hid it. Bartolome explains that Pedro is an orphan that they raised, and Paladin offers to forget it as long as he gets his billfold back. As they go in to get some wine, Pedro finds Paladin's billfold... and his card.
Inside, Paladin congratulates Bartolome on restoring the mission. Bartolome explains that Ian is careful with his property, and he had to be forced to relinquish the mission and its land. Ian has a statue of their patron, San Sebastian, and refuses to return it unless they pay $2,000. Without the statue, the people are unhappy. Pedro brings in the billfold and Bartolome hands over the money. Paladin gives Pedro his dollar and one more dollar as a reward, and goes on his way.
Back at the hotel, the clerk tells Paladin that Sancho raided the stage and took the payroll for Ian's ranch. He explains that Sancho is targeting Ian because his brother worked on Ian's ranch and was killed in an accident when the girth on his saddle broke. When Paladin leaves, Pedro approaches him and offers to hire him to get the statue back for the mission. The boy figures that Ian will pay if Paladin captures Sancho, and then he can pay Paladin with it.
Paladin goes to the ranch and tells Ian that he'll capture Sancho in return for the statue. Ian says that he owned the land for twenty years, and the government forced him to sell the land back. Paladin points out that the Mexican government sold the mission out from under the Franciscans, and warns that Sancho won't stop until he bleeds Ian dry. Ian insists that Sancho's brother died in an accident, and offers Paladin $500. Paladin starts to leave and Ian warns that Sancho is like a ghost. When he agrees to hire Paladin, he says that he'll make sure everyone knows that a new payroll is coming in from the bank.
Later, Paladin hits the trail and spots a cave. When he rides toward it, Sancho rides out, aims a rifle at Paladin, and tells him to dismount and drop his gun belt. Once Paladin does so--and palms his derringer--Sancho tells him to hand over Ian's payroll. Paladin points out that Sancho's brother died in an accident, and Sancho says that the same day, Ian refused to give him a replacement girth. He figures that he's "killing" Ian in the most painful way possible. Paladin tosses him the money and when he "accidentally" drops it, he shoots Sancho in the shoulder. Sancho whips him with the reins and rides off.
Later at the mission, Bartolome binds Sancho's wound. Paladin comes in and Sancho draws his gun on him, but Bartolome reminds him where he is. The gunfighter points out that Sancho's trail was easy to follow, and figures that Sancho can travel. Sancho refuses to go with Paladin and come to an understanding with Ian, and Paladin points out that both of them think they've been wronged and neither of them is right. Paladin insists that Sancho goes with him, and Bartolome tells them both to leave the mission if they're going to fight. Sancho asks for sanctuary, and Paladin explains that Ian offered the statue in return for Sancho. After a moment, Bartolome says that Sancho will have his sanctuary.
Paladin goes to the ranch and gives Ian the payroll, and claims that Sancho got away from him and claimed sanctuary. He plans to wait Sancho out until he leaves, and Ian gives Paladin $100 for the information. The rancher points out that Paladin didn't capture Sancho as promised, and calls in his ranch hand Stocker. Stocker comes in, gun drawn, and Paladin easily knocks him unconscious after throwing the money in Ian's face.
Back at the sanctuary, Paladin tells Sancho that Ian plans to trap him there. Bartolome doesn't believe that Ian will violate the mission, just as Pedro runs in and says that Ian and his men are outside. As the father goes out to talk to them, Paladin and Sancho watch from the window. Sancho draws his gun and says that killing Ian would be easy, but puts his gun away when Paladin asks if he would take it.
Bartolome confronts Ian and Stocker, and refuses to send Sancho out. Ian says that he will lay siege to the place and no one will come in and out.
Three days later, Ian figures that the brothers will soon break. Inside, Bartolome and the other brothers eat and Sancho advises them to leave since the food is almost gone Ian won't harm them. The brothers refuse to leave their home, and Bartolome says that San Sebastian will provide. Paladin is smoking outside, watching the ranch hands, and Sancho joins them. Sancho refuses to leave, and Paladin tells him to only think of the padres. He warns that Sancho's fight is harming innocent people, and wraps a whip around Sancho's neck to get his attention. Paladin tells the man that the mission will be out of water in another day and if Sancho hasn't thought of something to do by then, he will.
The next day, Stocker warns Ian that the men don't think going after the padres is right. Paladin walks to the gate and asks for Ian's word that he'll keep the business arrangement that he's set up. If he gets rid of Sancho, Ian gives up the statue. Realizing that his men are ready to rebel, Ian agrees. Sancho steps out and challenges Paladin. They both draw and Paladin guns Sancho down. He tells Ian to complete his side of the deal, while Bartolome runs to Sancho's body. Paladin tells him that it was the only way, and Bartolome hopes that God will forgive him.
Later, Ian and his men deliver the statue to the mission. Sancho's body is lying in a coffin, and Ian confirms that he's dead. Paladin seals the coffin and Ian hands over the statue. Bartolome takes it while Stocker and his men take the coffin out. Once they leave, Bartolome goes back inside and stares in surprise as Paladin removes a strap from the living Sancho's chest. Paladin says that it had to be tight to keep Sancho's chest from moving, and explains that he fixed the side of the coffin so that Sancho could slip out. Now Bartolome has the statue, and Sancho will leave with Paladin and won't be coming back.. just as Paladin promised.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 18, 2016