Schoolteacher Jim Martin rings the bell to call in the students. Quince Flanders is on the street teaching the kids about shooting. As Quince shoots at the feet of a nearby townsman as a demonstration, Jim comes over and tells Quince to give him a chance. Jim just laughs and leaves with the kids, and Jim calls Quince a stupid fool. Quince comes back and punches him, and then walks off with his children. Jim gets up and goes after Quince, who easily shoves him to the dirt. Jim's husband Bess runs over, and Quince punches Jim unconscious. When Bess calls Quince a rotten excuse for a human being, Quince turns and says that he's had enough of Jim, and warns her that he'll keep beating Jim unless Jim puts on a gun, and then he'll kill him.
Henrietta visits Hoby and tells him what happened, and Hoby points out that Quince hasn't broken any laws. Hoby has heard that it was a fair fight, but Henrietta says that the point is that Quince is ordering Jim to get out of town. The Ranger figures that it's the parents' fault, and Henrietta says that Quince has convinced the parents that Jim is corrupting the students against the country. She says that Hoby has to stop it, and Hoby points out that he can only hold Quince for two days and then the bully will beat up on Jim when he gets out. Bess comes in and says that Jim has bought himself a gun.
Hoby goes out and finds Quince doing lasso tricks for the kids. Tenner joins Hoby and points out that the kids will grow up happy for stupid. He says that he hates waste and the schoolhouse is standing empty, and figures Quince will forget about the kids once Jim leaves. Hoby tells Tenner that Jim bought a gun, and Tenner figures that he'll get married and have kids, and would like to have a teacher for them. Hoby points out that they've done okay without an education, but Tenner figures that teachers make life worth living.
The two men go to the Martin schoolhouse and find Jim putting on his gun... and dropping it. He insists on getting the kids back into school by proving that he's just as much a man as Quince. Jim figures that he hast to prove it on Quince's level, and he's not a man if he lets Quince replace him. He refuses to leave Porter, and Hoby vetoes Tenner's idea of pushing Quince into an argument and then killing him. Jim says that he'll handle it himself, and drops his gun again. Hoby has no choice but to go, and Tenner shows Jim how to handle the gun.
Later, Hoby goes to the Buckhorn and finds Quince drinking. The Ranger sits down and asks what will get him to stop Jim. Quince knows that Jim has a gun, and says that he's going to kill Jim for satisfaction rather than glory. He figures that once Jim puts a gun on, it will make him equal in the eyes of "their" people. Quince figures that Jim is deriding everything that they stand for, and figures that he's better than them. Hoby points out that if Quince had an education, he wouldn't have failed at life. Quince insists that he's had rotten luck and was burned out in a drought, and failed at storekeeping and gold mining. Hoby figures that Quince is just blaming Jim, and promises that if Quince kills Him then he'll find a way to get him to swing. Quince doesn't believe it and laughs.
Hoby goes back to the schoolhouse and there's no one there. Henrietta comes over and says that Tenner and Ralph went out of town with Jim and Bess to teach Jim how to shoot. As Hoby prepares to ride out, Henrietta says that it'll be his fault if anything happens to Jim. Hoby points out that it's everyone else that is backing him into a quarter.
When Hoby arrives, he finds Tenner teaching Jim how to shoot without much luck. Tenner tells Hoby that he's just showing Jim how to use the gun he bought, and Hoby says that he aims to keep the peace in Porter. Jim points out that Hoby can't do anything officially, and figures that they won't be shooting any innocents. Bess comes out and tells Hoby that Jim is a man of principle, and figures that Jim will be killed and there's nothing she or Hoby can do about it.
Once Hoby rides off, Jim soon improves at his shooting. Tenner warns him that he's not doing that well at drawing, and Ralph puts up a fresh target. The saloon owner draws first even though Jim's shot is better, and Tenner warns that Jim would never have gotten his shot off in a gunfight.
At the Buckhorn, Quince buys another round for everyone since Jim hasn't shown up. Hoby comes in and Ralph, putting up a picture, "accidentally" drops a hammer near Quince's hand. Quince throws it at Ralph, hitting him in the head, and Hoby punches him. The bully insists that Ralph tried to smash his gun hand, and Ralph admits that he did it on purpose. Jim wishes Ralph better luck, and Ralph warns Hoby that Jim will never be ready.
Tenner tells Jim to wait a couple of days, but Jim figures that he's as fast as he'll ever be. He prepares to ride into Porter, and Bess comes over and wonders why Jim has to do it for parents who don't care. Jim says that he's doing it for himself, and he has to make a stand to do his job. Bess suggests that he give up teaching, saying that she'll never accept standards that get people killed. He says that she has to accept it, but Bess refuses. They kiss and say that they love each other, and then Jim rides into Porter.
Ralph tells Hoby that Jim is in town, and Hoby grabs a rifle and goes out onto the street as the townspeople clear the streets. Quince comes out of the Buckhorn and Hoby goes over as Quince declares last call. Tenner comes out and Hoby says that he's holding Jim responsible. The saloon owner says that Jim hasn't broken any laws until he draws.
Jim is lurking in an alleyway as Hoby comes out looking for him. The teacher hides until Jim has moved on.
At the Buckhorn, Quince tells Tenner that he'll be at the cafe. He goes out and Jim steps out. He calls Quince a rat and says that he's going to empty his gun except for one bullet because that's all that's needed to kill a rat. Jim shoots the lock off of a door half the street away, and then shoots a weather vane. As the townspeople come out, Jim shoots the eyes out of a poster behind Quince. Hoby runs up as Jim says that he has one bullet left and holsters his gun. An unnerved Quince goes for his gun and shoots, and misses. Jim calmly draws and shoots Quince in the shoulder, and then drops his gun in the dirt and walks off.
Later, Jim calls the children to school and they come running. Meanwhile, Henrietta gives Bess a newspaper with an editorial about how Porter needs more teachers. Hoby and Tenner come up and she says that she hopes the town likes the school bell. Once she moves on, Tenner wonders if the town will raise a monument to him for teaching Jim how to shoot, and Hoby points out the kids won't be too thrilled.
Written by Gadfly on Feb 19, 2017