At the Carlton, Hey Boy finds Paladin in a two-day poker game. Paladin is on a losing streak in cards and women, and Hey Boy shows him a newspaper article about murderer Ben Jalisco who has escaped prison. Ben's capture six years ago was based on information provided by his wife Lucy... and Paladin captured Ben.
Paladin rides to see Lucy and finds Sheriff John Armstedder standing guard on the small waystation where she works. Armstedder explains that Lucy hustles drinks, and Paladin says that she didn't do so in the past. Paladin admits that Lucy told her where to find Ben, and Armstedder figures that Ben will come after her. He assures Paladin that he has deputy watching the waystation and says that Ben, a former bounty hunter, never took a man alive. Paladin confirms that Ben murdered at least 34 men.
One of the men drinking calls Lucy out to get him drinks, and Paladin calls to her. He says that he owes her for talking Lucy into turning Ben in, and Lucy says that she made a mistake. Paladin asks why she's working in a cheap bar, and Lucy says that there's nothing else for her to do. He says that she could have left, and realizes that she still loves Ben. Lucy advises paladin to move on, and the drinker calls her over.
That night, Armstedder approaches Paladin on guard duty and discusses the benefits of chew over cigars. The talks turn to marriage and Armstedder soon dismisses himself as a sentimental old man. As he walks away, he bumps into a can and Paladin aims his rifle at the sheriff. Armstedder sheepishly says that he won't make a fool of himself again, and Paladin goes back to watch.
Later, Ben sneaks up on the waystation, spots Armstedder, and shoots him dead. When Paladin comes running, Ben shoots at him and Paladin takes cover and then returns fire. He hits Ben in the leg, and Leg limps into the waystation. Paladin breaks in and finds Ben training his rifle on Lucy. He says that he killed a guard when he broke free, looking for his favorite shotgun. Ben has Lucy light the lamp and calls her back over, and says that he used to tell her that he loved her. He grabs her by the hair and asks if she remembers him saying that, and she says that she does. Paladin puts his gun down but Ben says that he let him have it for a reason. He asks for one of Paladin's cigars and lights it up, and talks about how he's been a hunter all his life and took naturally to bounty hunting. He figures that Lucy gave him away because Paladin charmed her. Ben insists that all the men he took were bad men without souls, and realizes that Paladin broke his leg with his shot.
As she wraps Ben's leg, Lucy suggests that they go to Mexico. He says that Paladin will take him there, and Paladin warns him that he'll never make it without making a mistake... and then he'll kill him. Lucy figures that Ben will kill her anyway, and Paladin says that they'll see.
The trio heads for the border and stops at a stream for water. Ben is sick and running a fever, and says that he had nothing against the guard. He explains that he killed the man when he tried to kill him, and assures Paladin that he's not tired yet. They continue on and Ben sends Paladin ahead. Paladin spots two riders and Ben dismounts with Lucy's help. He orders Paladin to take the bullet out of his leg before he gets gangrene, but Ben reconsiders and figures Paladin was the reason Lucy betrayed him. Paladin insists that he wasn't and if Lucy convinces him, he might let her live. Lucy figures that Ben will shoot and bury them together, but says that she still loves him. Ben holds the shotgun on her and says that he'd rather see her dead then working in a waystation, and Lucy says that she has to eat.
The riders approach and Paladin suggests that Ben let Lucy go. He refuses and tells Paladin to kill the two men. The men, John Tay and his son Will, ride up and John asks if they'll have to kill Paladin to get Ben. John explains that Ben killed his brother, and asks if they'll have to kill Paladin to get Ben. Paladin goes for his gun and wings John in the arm, and Will shoots Ben. When Ben tries to kill Lucy, Paladin shoots him as well and Lucy sobs over his body. Paladin apologizes to Will, who sends John to bury Ben. Lucy tells Paladin that she's free and can go anywhere, and thanks Paladin figuring something good has to happen to her.
Written by Gadfly on Mar 26, 2017