At the Carlton, Hey Girl brings Paladin a telegram. He excuses himself with the two women he's with, and reads the telegram. H.D. Templeton wants him to deliver a confidential message, and Hey Girl warns Paladin that Templeton seems impatient. Paladin talks to Templeton, and later is heading to the town of Deerfield with the message.
When Paladin rides into Deerfield, he sees the town roughneck tormenting a drunk on the street. The man, Bunk Connors, sees Paladin and gets in his way as he goes to the telegraph office. The woman watching, Sally, asks Bunk if he wants her to get Sim and Bunk. Bunk tells her to shut up and draws a knife. Paladin rams his rifle butt into Bunk's stomach and goes on, and Bunk runs over. The gunfighter punches him into a water trough and the townspeople laugh. When Paladin asks if Sally is all right, she tells him to leave him alone. She says that Bunk was only going to slap her around a little, and advises Paladin to ride out while she has to live there.
Paladin sends a wire to Templeton confirming that he delivered the message, and waits there for the bank receipt. The operator Tim warns Paladin that there are a couple of hellions worse than Burt is, but Paladin merely gets a room.
Later, Sally is sitting in the hotel saloon smoking. Her father complains that she isn't doing her job. She finally gets to work, but Burt, Sim, and Bunk come in. Their leader, Sim, asks Sally if Paladin is around. When Sally says nothing, Sim tells her that they'll wait around. Two townsmen come in but quickly leave when they see Sim and his boys.
Paladin finally comes down and the operator says that he doesn't have a reply yet. The operator directs him to the saloon for a meal, and Burt trips him when he comes in. Paladin sees Bunk "polishing" his gun, and the three hoods continue taunting Paladin. The townspeople gather at the door and the sheriff comes in. He tells the boys to settle down with their drinks or he'll send someone out to the Circle Y to tell Kincaid.
Once they go back to their drinks, the sheriff then tells Paladin that they're just having fun, and none of them are dangerous. Paladin figures that everyone stays out of the way, including the sheriff, and the sheriff says that it's part of the agreement. When Kincaid sent all of his cowhands in, they ran roughshod and no one would sell goods to him. He finally agreed to only send three men into town at a time. The sheriff advises Paladin to move on, and Sim tells the sheriff that he's said enough.
Paladin says that he's going to have his lunch and sits down. Sim tells that none of the items are available on the chalkboard, and has Sally cross them off until only one is left. Sim grabs her arm, but Sally calls her father for the order. Sim prepares to pour a shaker of pepper into it, and Paladin tells her to bring it to his room and another plate if it's too "highly seasoned." He shoves Burt aside and goes out, and the operator gives him his reply. Buck tells Sim that they'll get Paladin later.
Later in his room, Paladin confirms that Templeton has paid as promised. Sally delivers the food and Paladin insists on tipping her. She asks Paladin to take her back to San Francisco, saying that he's the last chance she's got. Sally doesn't have enough money to catch a stage, and figures that she needs Paladin to convince the cowhands to let her go. She doesn't want to go anywhere else because she'd just end up as a waitress there, but figures she has a shot in San Francisco. When Sally insists that Paladin owes her, he says that he doesn't and Sally tries to guilt him into helping, claiming that Sim and Bunk will beat her up. Paladin finally agrees to see her on the nearest stage, and she tries to kiss him. He gently pushes her away and tells her to pack, and asks if she's willing to chance trouble getting past the cowhands. Sally figures that it's her last chance and goes to pack.
Sally goes to her room and packs, and the three cowhands barge in. She admits that she's leaving and threatens to yell if they stop her, and Sim figures that Paladin would come running with his gun out... and then they can shoot him in "self defense." Sally doesn't yell, and Sim gets Bunk's knife and threatens her. She finally does and Sim puts the knife away. Paladin runs up, rifle ready, but figures that it's a trap, stops down the hall, and calls to them to send Sally out. Burt fires through the door, and Paladin shoots back. After a moment, Sally opens the door and tells Paladin not to shoot. The cowhands use her as a shield and run off, but Burt collapses dead.
The sheriff arrives and says that the boys got a little out of hand. He tells Paladin that they're on the way to the Circle Y to get Kincaid. Paladin goes to find Sim and Bunk so the sheriff can try them, but the sheriff points out the window. The two cowhands are talking to Kincaid. Paladin gets the sheriff to promise to try the boys.
The sheriff, Paladin, and Sally come out and the sheriff tells Kincaid that they had a little problem. Paladin says that the sheriff is going to try Bunk and Sim for assault, and Burt tells Kincaid that Paladin was the one. The rancher asks the sheriff what evidence that he has, and Sally remains silent. Disgusted, Paladin says that she hasn't seen anything outside of herself in her own life. He then tells sheriff that they'll be a trial if he has to hold it himself. Kincaid aims his rifle at the crowd to keep them back and tells the boys to deal with Paladin. Bunk hesitates and Kincaid tells him that he doesn't hire snivelers.
Bunk and Sim go across the street, and Paladin tells Kincaid that he'll come for him when it's over. Everyone clears the street and Paladin faces off the two cowhands. Kincaid fires a shot and Paladin draws. He kills them both but is wounded, and Sally runs to him. Paladin shoves her away and shoots down Kincaid.
Sally tells Paladin that she didn't know he could handle them, and all she's dreamed of getting out of Deerfield. Paladin keeps his word to get her out of Deerfield... and gives her the thousand dollar draft. Disgusted, he says that she didn't have the courage to tell the truth and when the money is gone, she'll end up in another sinkhole.
Written by Gadfly on Feb 5, 2017