At the Carleton, Paladin enters the lobby and finds a woman passed out on the couch, holding a gun. Hey Girl and the clerk McGinnis wonder if she's dead, and look to Paladin. Paladin flips her out of the couch, and the woman jerks awake, clearly drunk. He realizes that she's Martha Jane Conway, aka "Calamity Jane." Paladin tells McGinnis to prepare his bath and Hey Girl to pack his bags, and then carries Martha up to his suite. He pours her a bath and she finally agrees to get in once Paladin steps into the next room.
Paladin wonders if her name got too heavy for her, and Martha says that she never drank before her show manager Ned Blackstock took to looking for younger women to replace her. She offers to sell Paladin the dime novels about her and says that Ned made all of the money. As close as they were, they never had a contract. Then Lucy Weyerhauser came along and Ned joined up with her. Now Ned is running a new show featuring the "Authentic Original Calamity Jane" with Lucy.
Paladin points out that Ned manufactured the legend of "Calamity Jane", and Martha insists that she was the one who scouted for Custer and when Wild Bill was gunned down, she was the one who cornered the shooter Jack McCall with a meat cleaver. Furious, she says that Paladin wouldn't talk to her that way if Wild Bill was still alive, and breaks into tears. Martha drinks from a nearby bottle until Paladin takes it away from her, and says that she has no money to pay a doctor to cure her of alcoholism. Paladin says that once she gets dressed, they collect her money from Ned.
Once Martha is cleaned up, she and Paladin ride cross-country and stop to clean up. She suggests that they take a swim in the lake, but tells Paladin to go first. Once Martha is alone, she goes back to her saddle bag and gets a bottle of alcohol from a flour bag. Paladin stops her and yanks it away from her, and then tosses it away. Disgusted, he starts to leave and Martha begs him to stay. She says that she drinks to ease the pain in her back, but Paladin doesn't believe. Martha figures that he's disappointed in her, but insists that she's Calamity Jane. She tosses a pine cone into the air and tries to shoot it, but misses.
That night, Paladin and Martha make camp. She tells Paladin that she can't go to sleep because of her back, and asks him to rub it for her. He finally agrees and Martha asks if he's attracted to her. Paladin figures that she's the equal of any woman once she gets a cure, and Paladin points out that she once said that no man would take Wild Bill's place. Martha admits that Wild Bill never gave her a second look, and when she heard that he got shot she asked who would buy her another drink. Sobbing, Martha falls into Paladin's arms.
Paladin and Martha finally arrive at the town where Ned's show is performing. Martha tries to rip the poster apart until Paladin pulls her away, and they go to their hotel. Paladin checks in on Martha later and discovers that she's dressed up for the occasion. He tells her that Lucy's next performance is at 8:30 and Ned will be there, and says that Martha has to confront Ned and get her money. Martha says that she can't do it, but Paladin assures her that once Ned sees her, he'll send Lucy away. When Martha says that she's scared that Ned will laugh at her, Paladin says that he'll see Ned before he learns that Martha is in town, and tells her to get some rest.
At 8:30 at the hall, Lucy is demonstrating her shooting skills for the audience. As she joins Ned, Paladin joins them and asks if Ned is paying for it if Martha is. Paladin hands Ned his card and admits that he's working for Martha, and Ned figures that Martha would have too much pride to hire a gunslinger for money. He says that Martha is after him, explaining that she's crazy jealous. Paladin advises Ned to pay Martha to get her out of his life... and stop exploiting her name. Ned insists that he created the name "Calamity Jane", and tells Ned to meet him outside the bank the next morning.
Martha staggers in and insists that she's Calamity Jane, and threatens the entire audience. Paladin tells her to go out and wait, but Calamity says that she has business there. The audience clears away, and Lucy prepares to go for her gun. Ned is more than glad to drop a handkerchief and let them shoot, but Paladin aims a gun at his head and tells him to tell Lucy to drop her gun. Lucy reluctantly agrees, and Martha prepares to shoot Lucy. Paladin warns that if she does, then he'll shoot Ned.
Martha drops the gun and Ned slaps her. Paladin punches him to the floor and Ned begs him to stop. Martha goes to Ned and he says that it's all over between them. She stares at him affectionately and says that she'll fix him all up. She leads the hapless manager to his room, and Paladin stops Lucy from going after him. He invites her to help him with the champagne, but suggests that she keep her hands above the table.
Written by Gadfly on Feb 12, 2017