At the Carlton, Paladin is fencing with an opponent as a woman looks on. Paladin's opponent Andelli is less than thrilled when Paladin scores a touch on him. After Andelli leaves, the lady ask Paladin what he intends to do with her now that he has won her. As they kiss, Hey Boy brings in a telegram. Alejandro Caloca says that his father has lost his mind and is dangerous, and Alejandro and his sister can do nothing about it. Paladin tells Hey Boy to saddle his horse and gives Hey Boy his sword to defend the woman against Andelli's advances.
Paladin rides to the Caloca hacienda and presents his card to Alejandro. He explains that everyone in the area depends on his father Don Esteban, and he's been gone a week. Alejandro admits that Esteban doesn't trust him and has attacked him on several occasions, and is worried that he or any posse would harm the old man if he attacked them. No one in the county wants Esteban's blood on their hands, but Alejandro figures that a stranger is safe because Esteban wouldn't mistake him for someone else. Alejandro's sister Dulcinea arrives with Esteban's medicine for Paladin to give to Esteban, and warns Paladin that Esteban will kill himself if someone doesn't kill him first.
After accepting the commission, Paladin rides off in search of Esteban. He spots an armored knight and the knight charges and unhorses him. Esteban is the knight, and takes Paladin for a foul enchanter. Paladin gets up and then pulls Esteban off of his horse, and Esteban is unable to rise in his heavy armor. Once Paladin helps him to his feet, Esteban confirms his name and notices the knight's symbol on Paladin's holster. He takes Paladin for a knight and admits that he has never been formally invested, and Paladin offers his help. Esteban says that he must find his Lady Dulcinea, explaining that a knight errant without a lady love is nothing. As they ride off, Esteban says that he is looking for a giant to present to Dulcinea.
The two men come to a cantina so that Esteban can get a dinner and a drink. The local saloon girl, Rita, screams when she sees an armored knight, and Esteban assures her that he's there to protect "high-born ladies." Her companion wonders what Esteban is dressed up for, and the owner says that he'll send for Alejandro and Dulcinea, well aware of who Esteban is. Paladin tells the man that Esteban is their guest and demands service, and sits down with Esteban. Esteban says that the giant Caraculiambro is coming and he must keep vigil in the chapel. The owner overhears and says that they have no chapel, and Paladin proposes that they let the sky serve as their chapel. Satisfied, Esteban agrees.
While Paladin goes to have the innkeeper Bender send for Esteban's children, Esteban offers a toast to Rita. Her escort takes offense and Esteban attacks him with his sword. When the escort goes for his gun, Paladin knocks him over. An Indian, Dirty Dog, watches and comes over. Bender explains that Esteban is rich, and Paladin tells Esteban to control himself. Esteban apologizes for acting against the virtues of a knight when he is not yet a knight. Dirty Dog brings Esteban his armor, and Paladin tells the Indian to keep an eye on Esteban. Esteban apologizes to the escort and goes to commence his fast.
That night, Esteban kneels beneath the stars, keeping vigil. Dirty Dog kneels with him. The next day, Alejandro and Dulcinea ride up and Dirty Dog helps Esteban to his feet. Esteban insists that he's Don Quixote but they warn him that he's not well enough to sit overnight. When Alejandro demands that he returns home, Esteban struggles with him. Alejandro slaps him to the ground, and Dirty Dog draws a knife and prepares to kill Alejandro. Paladin comes over and tells Dirty Dog that he'll see nothing happens to Esteban.
Esteban insists that Alejandro causes him all of the trouble that he can and storms off, and Paladin talks to Alejandro privately. The gunfighter says that Esteban has been badgered twice since he's been with him, and wonders why Alejandro sent for him. Alejandro explains that Esteban believes that it is his duty to fight monsters and other knights, and wants Paladin to provoke a fight with Esteban and then kill him. Dulcinea realizes that Esteban has slipped away, and Paladin slips away. Meanwhile, Alejandro tells the cantina customers that he'll pay a thousand dollars to anyone who brings in Esteban... dead or alive. Once her brother leaves, Dulcinea says that her brother doesn't mean what he says, and goes to Paladin.
Esteban and Dirty Dog sneak up on a cow outside the hacienda, which Esteban believes is Caraculiambro. He agrees to test Dirty Dog in battle once they have fought the "giant." They mount up and charge, but Paladin rides up and intercepts them, knocking them both off the horse. Paladin tells Dirty Dog to keep Esteban there and rides to the house.
Paladin rides to the hacienda and tells Alejandro to announce the bounty is no good. Alejandro refuses, saying that he's going to make sure that Esteban dies, and figures Paladin can do nothing about it. He invites Paladin in for a drink, but then grabs an ax and attacks Paladin. Paladin mortally wounds him and says that Alejandro made it his business.
Back with Esteban, Paladin tells the old man that he should listen. Rita and the others come up as Esteban prepares to fight Paladin. The escort is there, the lance in h is chest, and Esteban says that the man came for him and Esteban smote him, and now he is a true knight. Paladin plays along and concedes the point, and knights Esteban with the powers he was awarded after wresting them from Alejandro. He tells Esteban to claim h is castle, and apologizes for killing his son. Esteban goes in with Dulcinea, and Paladin tells Dirty Dog that he is Sancho Panza, and Esteban will feed him and pay him in return for his care. Bender objects and Paladin tells him that he thinks that Esteban's delusions are over. However, he promises that if anyone tries to push Esteban into a fight then he'll hear about it... and he will come back.
Written by Gadfly on Apr 9, 2017