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The Chinese Cowboy Recap

The owner of Wong's Laundry is walking down the main street of Porter. Wong greets a townsperson, who abruptly nods to him. A cowhand, Les Morgan, and his men come out of the saloon and Morgan deliberately trips Wong and then wipes his shoes with the clean laundry. Hoby and Ralph come over and Hoby tells Morgan to let Wong go. Morgan claims that they were just having fun, and Wong says that he has no complaints. When Hoby says that he can make Morgan pay for the laundry, Wong repeats his denial, picks up the laundry, and goes. Once the cowhands move on, Ralph warns Hoby that Les knows how to handle a gun.

Later, Hoby visits the laundry and tells Wong that he can't do anything about Morgan until Wong files a complaint. Wong says that he doesn't want to cause trouble, and Hoby warns that it could get worse. The launderer says that if he complains then it would only mean more trouble, and doesn't understand the townspeople's respect for a killer. Hoby says that it could be easier for people to do it in a place of fear, but Wong still refuses to file a complaint.

Hoby goes to Henrietta's office and Henrietta warns that everyone in Porter likes Les. She advises Hoby not to task for trouble and wonders why Hoby wants to rile up everyone over Wong. Henrietta says that Wong isn't filing a complaint, but Hoby figures that it's abuse, not teasing. When she says that the townspeople have trouble getting used to a foreigner, Hoby points out that there's nothing in the law or the Constitution about treating people different. Henrietta admits that Hoby is right, and Hoby says that he has to go to Austin to testify in a murder trial and he might not be back for a few weeks.

That night, Hoby prepares to ride out and Ralph says that he'll take care of things. One of Morgan's men sees Hoby go and runs off to tell Les in the saloon. Meanwhile, Wong hears the men in the saloon laughing and goes over to peer in the window. When one of Les' men, Andy, sees him, he calls Les. Les and Andy insist that Wong come in. They drag him to the bar and tell Joe to get Wong a drink. Joe says that he doesn't want trouble with Hoby, and Wong says that he never takes drink. Les feigns taking offense and orders Wong to take a drink. Once he does and gasps, clutching at his chest, everyone bursts into fire and they drag Wong out and toss him in a trough. The cowhands go back inside and Wong goes back to his laundry, humiliated.

The next day, Wong goes to the grocery store and tells Sam that he wants to buy a gun. Sam shows him a revolver, but it's too much for Wong. The grocer offers him a poor quality one for $2.00, and sells him gun oil as well. Wong makes the purchases and Sam tosses in a holster to make him look like a real cowboy.

Five weeks later, Hoby rides back to Porter and sees a horse on the outskirts of town. He hears gunshots and moves in, and finds Wong practicing shooting. Wong greets Hoby, who checks the gun and says that there's no law against holding a gun. Hoby has Wong demonstrate his shooting and admits that he's good, and wonders why Wong has been practicing. Wong explains that people seem to respect a man with the gun, and he hoped that they would accept and like him. Hoby figures that Les is still bothering Wong, and warns that Les isn't a can. Wong says that he's not capable of violence, but Hoby warns that a gun is violence and there's no telling what a man will do if pushed. The Chinaman says that he wants respect, not violence, and that for him there may not be any choice.

Later, Hoby and Ralph hear gunshots and go out into the street. One of Les' friends, Charlie, is firing shots at Wong's feet. Wong refuses to flinch, and Hoby quickly disarms Charlie and tells him to leave Wong alone. He puts Charlie under arrest, and Les tells Charlie not to let Hoby bluff him. Hoby drags Charlie away, and Les warns Ralph that Hoby won't get away with it.

Later, Joe goes to the sheriff's office. Hoby is out on rounds, and Joe warns Ralph that Les and his men have been drinking all day and working up their courage.

At the saloon, Les says that they should run Wong out of town and show Hoby who's in charge. They break into the laundry and start tearing the place apart. Wong begs Les to stop, but Les pours paint on the clothing and then draws a knife and cuts off Wong's hair queue. As the men go back to the saloon, Ralph and Henrietta watch. Henrietta tells the deputy that no one in town is any better and they all failed to help Wong.

In the saloon, Les figures that Wong is heading out of town. Wong comes in wearing his revolver and holding his queue in the other hand. He tells Les to go for his gun, and everyone backs away. They draw and Wong shoots and kills Les. Hoby, Ralph, and Henrietta arrive. As Hoby takes the revolver, Joe says that it was a fair fight. Hoby tells Wong that he finally found the respect he was looking for, and Wong tells the cowhands that he only wanted their respect. Now they will only fear him because he showed violence, and he doesn't want it. A disgusted Hoby has no choice but to hold Wong.

The next day, the townspeople come to sheriff's office to see Wong. He says that he released Wong and that he's leaving Porter. They all go over to the laundry and ask Wong for a chance to make up for what they did to him. Their leader says that they would be proud to have him in Porter. Wong says that if they had told him that before it might have made a difference, and leaves. Henrietta asks Hoby to stop Wong, but Hoby says that the townspeople's good intentions came too late.

Written by Gadfly on Jan 29, 2017

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