Emily Eubanks visits Paladin at his suite when he answers her advertisement. He explains that he was amused by her ad, asking someone to go to the Barbary Coast to find her fiancé Albert. Emily insists that Albert is one of the most talented musicians that she's ever known. However, Albert's father wanted his son to go into real estate, and give him $8,000 to invest it. Paladin finds the entire thing amusing and Emily takes offense. He has a book of her poems, and recites one of them. She figures that he understands, and Paladin says that they can go find Albert.
Paladin and Emily eventually arrive in a dive bar. As everyone stares at the expensively dressed couple, Paladin leads his client to the piano where Albert is playing. When he hesitates, Big Jim prods him with a gun and Albert starts up again. Paladin says that he didn't know there were so many music lovers in San Francisco, and Big Jim explains that the owner, Big Nellie Harper, bet him that he couldn't keep Albert playing for thirty-six hours straight. Albert has been playing eighteen hours so far, and cheerfully assures Albert that he's reached the halfway point. Emily says that Albert spent four years at a Boston conservatory, but Big Jim isn't impressed.
Big Jim asks Paladin who is the lady she is, and he says that she's a friend. The owner asks how much Emily is worth, and Paladin tells him that she's not for sale. Albert stops and Big Jim orders him to keep playing, grabbing his hands and slamming them on the keyboard. Nellie counts the time and says that Albert has stopped playing for twenty seconds and Big Jim lost his bet. He pays her while Emily goes to Albert and holds him. He admits that he spent the $8,000 and glances over at a saloon girl. Albert says that he's weak, and Emily tells him that it's no weakness to be sensitive to beauty.
Paladin escorts the couple over to a table and he wonders how Albert ended up there. He explains that he was shanghaied and Big Jim was going to sell him to a crimper bound for China. However, someone stabbed the piano player and Nellie needed another one, so she offered Big Jim more money than the crimper did.
Paladin goes over and asks if Big Jim will put Albert up as a stake against $1,000. Big Jim wants to bet more, and Paladin invites him to name the stakes. As for the game, Paladin lets Big Jim pick and says that he'll beat him at anything. Big Jim proposes a punching contest, with one minute to get off the floor. As for the stakes, Big Jim wants Emily so he can have a matched set. Paladin refuses, saying she's not this to wager, and Big Jim offers a thousand dollars on top of Albert. He offers to throw in any girl in the place, including Nellie, but Paladin refuses... and Emily accepts. She tells Paladin that it's not his decision to make but hers, and she's made it. Paladin demands the $8,000 as well and when Big Jim hesitates, Paladin asks if he's worried about losing. Laughing, Big Jim tells a man JoJo to bring the money from his room.
Once the stakes are down, Paladin removes his coat and hat. They flip coins to see who goes first, and big Jim steps on the coin when Paladin calls it. Paladin determines that he won... and Big Jim punches him. Nellie times it to see when Paladin gets up, while JoJo tells everyone to get back. Paladin finally pulls himself up and sucker-punches Big Jim. The Irishman gets up and complains that Paladin broke his watch. He takes his punch and Paladin staggers across the bar. He smiles and then goes down, and the patrons take their bets while Big Jim grabs Emily and starts kissing her, then tells Albert to start playing The Wedding March.
Paladin gets up with five seconds to spare. He orders a bottle of whiskey, takes a swig, and pours some more on his injured right hand. Paladin then calls Big Jim over and takes his punch with his left hand. Big Jim smashes into a wine cask and goes down, and Nellie starts counting the time. Emily goes to Albert and tells him that he's free, and Nellie finally admits that the time is up. Big Jim is still down, and Nellie asks Albert if he'd leave her for Emily.
Paladin tells her to hand over the $,000, and the owner shows him the empty box. Disgusted, Paladin gives her three seconds to hand over the money, and she laughs and hands over the $8,000. Albert makes sure that it's all there, and pays Nellie $1,000 for consumption of liquor. However, he goes to the gambling table and starts betting. Paladin goes over and says that it's his money, and Albert asks him to leave him $100. The gunfighter does so and the saloon girl from earlier sits down with Albert. he looks up at Emily, who is crying, and tells her that she'd better go home. Paladin leads the girl out and away.
Written by Gadfly on May 21, 2017