An Eastern dude, Pendleton, rides into Porter and discovers that the bank is closed. Hoby comes over and notes that it doesn't open until 10. While he waits, he helps Ellen Hackett get her things into her wagon. A coach driver rides his wagon into town and hails Hoby. He says that he has business for Hoby and points out the corpse in the back of his wagon. The townspeople gather as Hoby confirms that the dead man is Paul Hackett, Eileen's husband.
As Henrietta joins the crowd, the driver says that he found the corpse sticking out of the bush two miles from the relay station. He was driving the coach in and reached the station about 2 am. Paul was occupying a room at the station when they arrived, and heard him in his room holding a poker party. Everyone moves along and Hoby asks Henrietta to break the news to Ellen while he rides out to the relay station to take a look.
At the relay station, the landlady shows Hoby Paul's room. She confirms that the paintings belong to Paul, and he used the room two-three times a week. The landlady says that Paul was fond of his poker, and she never saw Paul's opponent. The poker game was still going on when she went to bed at 4. Hoby finds a tie pin with the initials RC on it, and rides to the Hackett ranch. Henrietta is there keeping Ellen company, and Ellen seems unconcerned about her husband's death. She says that she didn't want Paul dead, but she had little regard for him. Ellen knew that Paul went to the relay station quite often because he didn't care for Ellen any more than she cared for him. He rented the room to gamble, and he became drunk with greed when he played. Ellen made him agree to go out of Porter to gamble, and doesn't know anyone with the initials RC. Hoby offers his condolences but Ellen assures him that there's no need.
Later at the newspaper office, Henrietta tells Hoby that Ellen was in love with someone else and was forced to marry Paul. The man she was in love with, Bobby Carlyle, left town on the day Ellen married Paul and has never been heard from since. Hoby points out that RC matches Bobby "Robert" Carlyle, but Ellen says that no one has seen Bobby in three years. As Hoby leaves, Pendleton hails him and asks if he's found out anything about Paul's murder. Henrietta comes out and Pendleton congratulates her on her newspaper. He points out there isn't much in her newspaper about Paul's murder, and Henrietta notes that there isn't much to say.
Bobby rides into town and when Pendleton sees him, he quickly ducks out of sight. Meanwhile, Henrietta points Bobby out to Hoby and figures that it's no coincidence. Bobby goes into the saloon and Joe welcomes him back and serves him a drink. Hoby comes in as Joe mentions Paul's murder, and Joe introduces them. Bobby says that he's in Porter for business and he doesn't plan on staying long. Hoby points out that his initials would be RC and shows him the tie pin, and Bobby says that it used to be his but he hasn't seen it in three years. He tells Hoby that it belongs in the past, three years ago, but Hoby doesn't believe him and puts him under arrest for suspicion of murder. Bobby demands an explanation, and Hoby says that he'll tell him on the way to jail.
As the two men go out, Hoby explains about how the tie pin was found at the relay station. Bobby insists that he's innocent, but Hoby doesn't believe him. The man says that he's following a cheating card shark after the man cheated him on everything he had: Pendleton. Hoby starts in recognition and Bobby notices.
Hoby goes outside and the bank clerk tells him that Pendleton cashed a big bank draft that was signed by Paul Hackett. Pendleton's horse is tied up down the street by the hotel, and Hoby goes over to check the saddlebags. They're empty, and Hoby runs into the hotel. The clerk says that Pendleton left 15 minutes ago and didn't say where he was going.
Hob rides after Pendleton and catches up to him on the road. Pendleton says that he left his horse in town to throw a man off his tracks, and says that he and Bobby can settle their differences without the law. Hoby points out the bank draft and Pendleton says that he figured it would arouse suspicion. When he saw Bobby ride into town, Pendleton cashed the draft despite the risk of being considered the murderer and then left town. Hoby still takes him in, and Pendleton points out that Paul's body was two miles away from where they played.
Later, Ellen comes to the jail to visit Bobby. He wonders why she's there and then turns his back on her. Ellen calls him on it and points out that he's in trouble, and says that she knows he didn't kill Paul. She offers to help him but doesn't explain how, and Bobby figures that she wants something. Ellen says that she wants him, and Bobby tells her that he turned her down three years ago. He left to get away from her because he knew she'd keep coming after him. As Ellen starts to go, Bobby says that he knows who killed Paul and she dares him to prove it.
As Ellen leaves, she sees Hoby inspecting her wagon and finding fresh bloodstains on the underside of the cushion. Hoby nods to the waiting Pendleton, who rides off, and Hoby asks why she didn't bury Paul.
Later, Hoby tells Henrietta that Ellen picked Paul up after the game and killed her on the way home. As she writes up the story, Henrietta wonders about the tie pin. Hoby says that Paul brought the tie pin with him and Pendleton won it off of him. The editor wonders what will happen to Ellen, and Hoby figures that she'll get what's coming to her, one way or another.
Written by Gadfly on Jan 22, 2017