At the Carlton, Paladin is chatting with a woman confirming that she's available for dinner after the show. He calls Hey Boy over and tells him to get a private room at the restaurant, and says that his matter with Samuel Keel will wait until the next day..
The next day, Paladin rides to Samuel's estate. Samuel tells him that he wants him to find Carter and shows Paladin a tontine pyramid. The man who reaches the top of the list will win $500,000. There are three other people on or above Seth on the pyramid. Samuel insists that numerology and astrology indicate that Seth is predestined to win, but he bought and paid for Seth's place in the pyramid. Seth has disappeared and three men could know where he is. Samuel only knows the location of one man, Arnold Shaffner. Paladin wonders why Samuel doesn't look for Seth himself, and Samuel explains that his astrology reading indicates that his life is in danger if he leaves his estate. the gunfighter is skeptical but agrees to take the job for the money.
Paladin goes to the carnival where Shaffner works and talks to the owner. He explains that he's looking for Shaffner, and the owner directs paladin to the tent where Shaffner is working as "The Living Corpse." Shaffner is preparing for his act, and laughs when Paladin asks if he knows Seth. The performer says that he hasn't seen Seth since they served time together in Yuma Prison, and Paladin pays him for a bottle... after he tells him where Seth is. Shaffner tells the gunfighter that if he knew where Seth was, he'd kill him if he could.
Shaffner explains that he first met Seth at Fort Courage, and Seth was a peddler selling blankets to the Army on contract. Some politician made Seth an Indian Agent, and he was involved with an Indian massacre at Green Tree Forks. Shaffner took the blame and was court-martialed. Carl Wellesley and Simon Parsons are the other two men on Paladin's list from Samuel, and Wellesley was the other man working with Seth. Shaffner saw Carl a week ago when they played Virginia City, Shaffner puts on his skeleton costume and the owner has Paladin help him seal Shaffner in a glass casket. As he does so, Paladin pays Shaffner his money. Shaffner thanks him and hopes that Paladin kills Seth.
The audience comes in to look at the Living Corpse, and Shaffner starts screaming. paladin breaks the coffin open and finds a poisonous snake inside. It's bitten Shaffner, killing him, and the owner declares the Living Corpse dead.
Next, Paladin tracks down Carl, who is working as a bird seller. Carl insists that his name is Wells, but Paladin asks him where he can find Seth. The man nervously tells Paladin to get out and admits that he's the only one who knows where Seth is. Paladin demands answers, and Carl shows him a ferret. He points out how timid it is, and explains that he was once a missionary to the Yumas. Carl discovered a vein of gold on their reservation and told Seth, the Indian Agent. Seth made a deal with Shaffner and arranged the massacre, Once the Indians were driven off, he needed someone to declare the Yuma hostile and transfer their land to the public domain. Simon Parsons was a government official, and Paladin admits that he can't trace him.
Carl tells Paladin that Simon killed himself after he found out about "her." He demands to know who Simon was, and Carl explains that he was the Assistant Territorial Commissioner. Simon's wife Katherine was supposed to come back to him in Taylortown, but Carl claims that Seth put her in Carl's mind. Carl thought that he would get her and give in to temptation. He raves about being condemned to Hell and lets his birds out. and then runs out. He screams and when Paladin goes after him, he discovers that Carl was killed by an overturned wagon. The driver says that Carl just stood there in street, and that Carl was scared of something else.
Paladin rides to Taylortown and learns that Katherine works at a saloon. He goes there and asks the owner, Lola, where he can find Katherine. Lola calls Katherine down, and a saloon girl comes over and asks if Paladin wants to dance. As he refuses, a gunshot rings out upstairs. Katherine staggers downstairs, dying, and says that she loved him and tried to hold him even after he shot her. Paladin asks if it was Seth, and Katherine says that he'll have to call him as well. Katherine dies and Paladin finds Zodiac amulets on her belt.
Paladin rides to Samuel's estate and barges into the man's study. The gunfighter has worked out that Samuel was Seth, and Samuel admits that he had to eliminate anyone He draws a gun on Paladin, and Paladin tells him that Samuel's death is predestined based on the astrological signs. He invites Samuel to examine his chart, and draws and shoots Samuel when he glances away. As the man dies, Paladin goes over and admits that he was mistaken. Samuel realizes that the signs showed that he would have good fortune and long life... and dies. With that, Paladin lets Samuel's butler in to dispose of his master's body and leaves.
Written by Gadfly on May 14, 2017