At the Carlton, Paladin returns from an all-night tryst with a female and friend and finds Hey Boy dozing in a chair. He wakes up and gives Paladin a letter with $100. It promises Paladin $900 more if he comes to Last Gasp to protect Tom Wilson.
Paladin rides to Last Gasp and goes into the bar. The bartender Rudy tells him that Tom Wilson is dead and a man, Moriarty, squished him to death. Rudy directs Paladin to Moriarty, and Moriarty says that Tom hired a gunman to kill him and came at him with a knife, and he killed him. When Moriarty wonders why Paladin is hanging around, Paladin points out that Moriarty cost him $900 and figures that he should get a chance to win it back. After a moment, Moriarty invites Paladin to sit down to the poker game that he's playing.
After several rounds and Paladin wins constantly, Paladin bets without looking at his cards. He dares Moriarty to call him, but Moriarty is short. He puts up his mine, the Silver Strike for a month, and everyone laughs. Paladin agrees and shows three queens, which beats Moriarty's two pair. Moriarty says that he'll take Paladin to the mine that night, and Rudy brings over a boy. Paladin's opponent says that the boy is Silver Strike Moriarty, his son, and tells Paladin that he's unlikely be able to work the boy much. He orders Silver Strike away but Paladin tells him to stay, saying that he won him and he's going to keep him. Moriarty, surprised, tells Paladin that he'll change his mind once he gets to know his son.
Everyone else leaves and Silver takes offense when Paladin tries to adjust his scarf. Silver says that he works where they got dirt and his father clouts him if he refuses. Paladin tells him to get a night's sleep if he's going to do a day's work and leads him off. Moriarty, watching, chuckles.
At the hotel, Paladin gets ready for the night. Silver explains that he was born on the day his father staked his mine, and his mother left because he couldn't stand Moriarty. The boy says that he's 10 or 11 and went to school once when his father wasn't liking. Silver laughs and says that the teacher threw him out, and Paladin asks what kind of work would he likes. The boy says that he'll work in the mines, and he keeps what he can grab. When Silver starts jumping on the bed, Paladin kicks him off onto the second bed and goes to sleep.
The next day, Paladin takes Silver to school after he has the barber clean him up. The townspeople come by to gawk, and Silver refuses to clean up. Paladin grabs him and undresses him, and the boy kicks him and throws a bottle at him before ducking under a table. The gunfighter kicks the table over, grabs the boy, and undresses him. He tosses him into the tub but Silver runs for it and Paladin lassos him and takes him back in, much to the townspeople's amusement. He dumps Silver in the tub and takes away anything the boy could use to cover himself, and gives him a bar of soap while he burns the boy's louse-filled clothing.
Later, Paladin takes the cleaned-up and well-dressed Silver to the saloon and orders him milk. over his objections. Moriarty comes over and when he learns that Paladin is taking him to school, says that wasn't part of the deal. Paladin insists that going to school is work. When the miner says that Silver will think that he's better than him, Paladin says that any child should have it better than his father. Moriarty considers going for his gun, and Paladin says that he's been to a school that teaches him how to kill a man. The miner backs down after a moment, and after his father walks off, Silver warns Paladin that Moriarty will kill him now.
Paladin leaves and finds Moriarty standing outside with the townspeople. Moriarty invites Paladin to teach him how to fight, and Paladin figures that he's sore because he might give Silver ideas that he doesn't have to work to keep his father in poker money. The townspeople tell Moriarty that now he'll have to go to work, and Moriarty tells Silver to go to work. Paladin says that the boy is going to school, then orders the boy to move aside and takes off his gun belt. Moriarty sucker-punches him, and the two men fight.
Paladin soon takes Moriarty down and puts his gun belt back on. He assures Silver that he didn't kill Moriarty and takes him to the school. The teacher is impressed that Paladin got Silver clean, and points out that Moriarty believes in ignorance. Rudy tells her that Moriarty won't bother the bow and the townspeople laughingly agree. The teacher wonders if Paladin thinks he can educate the boy, and he says that she can. She agrees to do what she can, and Paladin tells Silver that it's up to him. Silver asks if he'll learn how to beat his father, and Paladin says that he'll learn even better ways. A young girl comes up and glares at Silver, and then smiles at Silver. Silver braces himself and goes in with the girl, and Paladin gives the teacher his card and wishes her luck.
As Paladin goes back to his horse, Moriarty glares at him. The gunfighter looks significantly at the sign advertising baths and then at the muddy Moriarty, and goes on as the townspeople laugh at Moriarty.
Written by Gadfly on Apr 16, 2017