Paladin is in the Carlton lobby reading a paper. A woman, Phyllis Kirkland, comes in and tells Hey Boy to notify Paladin that she's there. Paladin tries to avoid her while Hey Boy claims that Paladin is far out of town and promises to tell him that she called. Another woman arrives and asks the clerk for Paladin, and Phyllis overhears her. Paladin realizes that he'd better leave and rides off on a job.
As Paladin approaches a town on his way to Sacramento, two men approach him and ask if he's seen Boise Peabody. They tell him that it's what Boise hasn't done: put on women's clothing on Big Fontana's orders and entertain the boys at the camp. Paladin notices Boise hiding in the bushes and claims that he saw Poise back down the road. They run off and Paladin calls Boise out. Boise collapses to his knees and explains that he's feeling poorly, and Paladin offers to take him into town and have the doctor check on him.
In town, Paladin approaches the doctor, Halsop. Halsop says that Boise hasn't been feeling well since he fell through the ice a year ago and goes to see him. The bartender warns Paladin that the creek is overflowing and he isn't moving on, and Paladin settles in.
At Boise's shack, Halsop checks Boise and finally tells him that he's going to die. Boise talks about how he hasn't made his mark yet, and regrets that he's left things too late. He tells Halsop that he can take his belongings, and the doctor collects them , says that it will be all over by morning, and leaves.
At the saloon, Paladin orders a drink and Big Fontana overhears him. He challenges Paladin to a drinking contest, saying that he's the champ of everything. Paladin agrees and the two men match each other drink for drink. Paladin stops first, but soon realizes that Big Fontana drank water. He accuses Fontana of being a four-flushing fraud, and Fontana prepares to draw on him. Boise tells Paladin not to do it, and says that he came there to watch Fontana die. Everyone laughs, and Paladin asks Boise if he knows what he's doing. Boise tells him that he'll handle it, and then stares Fontana down and draws. As he dies, Fontana says that Boise wasn't even scared.
Boise pours himself a drink and an onlooker warns Boise that Fontana's younger brother Little Fontana will come looking for him. Boise says that by the time the brother gets there, he'll be dead. He tells Paladin what Halsop told him,, and that he's come alive for the first time. Boise staggers off and collapses, and Paladin takes him home. Boise says that he's been a coward all of his life but he has nothing to fear, and asks Paladin to sit with him. Paladin starts to go, but then agrees and sits with the old man.
Come morning, Boise is surprised and disappointed to discover that he's still alive. He asks Paladin for his help, explaining that he was resigned to death the night before but now he has to deal with Little Fontana. Boise offers to hire Paladin, but Paladin warns that now Boise has a reputation and he'll have to defend it on his own He tells Boise that he can't resign his championship, and the legend will catch up with Boise no matter how far he runs. Boise insists that Paladin think of something for saving his life, and a bemused Paladin agrees to help Boise fake his death.
Later, Halsop rides into town and hears Paladin and Boise working on Boise's coffin. Boise hides as Halsop goes in and tells Paladin that he heard that Boise died. Paladin asks when Halsop studied medicine, and Halsop finally admits that he didn't.
Later, the townspeople gather for Boise's "funeral." Paladin says the final words while Boise listens from hiding..Little rides up and says that he's there to see his brother buried. He tells them to fill up the grave, and Boise steps out and says that he's not going to let Little spoil the proudest moment of his life. Everyone takes cover, and Paladin tells Little that Boise killed Big in a fair fight. Little doesn't care and prepares to draw, and Paladin gets ready to match him. After a moment, Little starts to leave, but goes for his gun. Paladin has no choice but to kill him, and Little falls down next to Boise's open grave. The gunfighter tells Boise to bury him, figuring it's best for Boise to make it look like someone is buried there.
Written by Gadfly on Apr 23, 2017