A young woman approaches Paladin in the lobby of the Carlton and places his
own card on his sleeve. As a young woman comes over and flirts with Paladin,
the newcomer glares at Paladin and he assures her that while he may not fit the
image of a gunfighter, he is Paladin. The woman introduces herself as Maya
Ferguson and explains that her mother Alice mailed her Paladin's card and told
her to find the gunfighter if she ever needed help. Paladin doesn't know any
particular Alice until Maya explains that her mother, a businesswoman owning
mines and ranches, used the nickname Blue-Dollar Alice. The gunfighter admits
that Alice never used her last name when he knew her, or mentioned a daughter.
Maya explains that Alice sent her to an Eastern girl's school when she was a
child and they haven't met since. She tells Paladin that her and her mother
have been talking by mail for years, and her mother always sent money. However,
recently the money and the letters stopped. Alice lives in Codeyville, AZ, but
when Maya went there, nobody claimed to know who Alice was. Maya wants Paladin
to take her there but is most insistent that he act "properly" toward
her. When she wonders why her mother's nickname was Blue-Dollar, Paladin says
that they'll discuss as necessary when they arrive in Codeyville.
Paladin and Maya arrive in Codeyville by stage and notice that all of the saloons are closed. They check in at the hotel and the clerk, Briggs, recognizes Maya from her last visitor. Paladin points out that the town used to be overflowing with stabbings and shootings, Briggs says that now they have law and order. He tells Paladin to check his gun when he gets the chance. Once they're alone, Paladin tells Maya that Alice hired him to kill a man in Codeyville years ago. He refused since he wasn't a murderer, and Alice later admitted that she was happy he did. Since then, the two of them became friends. Maya doesn't believe her woman, a proper lady, would do such a thing, basing her judgment on what Alice has said in her letters. Paladin doesn't argue the point and gives Maya her room key.
Briggs goes to see the local banker, Eli Morgan, and tells him that Paladin is back in town. Eli goes to meet Paladin the hotel lobby and asks about his business. When Paladin explains that Maya hired him to find Alice, Eli says that Alice died several months ago. They didn't notify Maya because Alice left no legal notice that she had a daughter, and they buried her in an unmarked grave. Paladin wonders why no one told Maya when she came looking the first time and Eli suggests that the townspeople didn't want Maya to know that Alice was an immoral woman. Unconvinced, Paladin asks to talk to the reverend who officiated at the funeral and tells Eli that he's lying.
Eli goes to the church ahead of Paladin and meets with Reverend Biggley. The banker tells Biggley to lie to Paladin, warning that the townspeople will kill anyone who could ruin their reputation. Paladin arrives and Eli slips out the back away. When the gunfighter comes in, Biggley asks him to turn over his weapons. Surprised that a reverend is taking weapons, Paladin hands them over and explains that he's a friend of Alice's. Biggley is surprised that Alice has any friends and speaks dismissively of her, and Paladin reminds him of what the Bible says about friendship. Irritated, Paladin figures that the people of Codeyville want to forget their violent past, and the woman who represents that time to them. Biggley warns him that it's more than a few prudish people and admits that he's in a terrible position. When Paladin tells him that Maya deserves better, Biggley relents and tells him that Alice is alive and where she is living.
At the hotel, Mrs. Briggs leads a group of the town's ladies to meet with Maya. When Maya comes down from her room, Mrs. Briggs takes her aside and says that she wanted to break the news about Alice to her in person.
Paladin goes to the main saloon, long shuttered up, and Eli approaches him. The banker admits that he lied to Paladin earlier, and Paladin tells Eli that he lied earlier when the man was married to Alice. The gunfighter points out that Eli kept his marriage to her secret, but still embezzled money from her. Alice was ashamed of her husband and hired Paladin to kill him. Eli agrees to take Paladin to Alice and leads him down a side alley, only for two of his men to ambush the gunfighter and knock him out.
When Paladin wakes up, he staggers out into the street and sees Maya boarding the stagecoach. As it leaves town, Paladin leaps onto the horses and unfastens them from the stage. Once the stagecoach grinds to a halt, Paladin gets Maya out and tells her that Alice is alive, but she isn't interested after hearing what Mrs. Briggs had to say. The driver draws a shotgun on Paladin, who takes it away from him and knocks the man out. The gunfighter then drags Maya to the boarded-up saloon, rips off the boards, and takes her inside.
Inside of the long-empty saloon, Paladin shows Maya the faro wheel and the sign on it identifying it as the Blue Dollar Wheel. He explains that it was the only honest wheel in the territory, and that Alice was the only honest saloonkeeper. She gave compassion to men who needed it and listens to their stories of tragedy. Maya doesn't want to hear it, but Paladin tells her that while what Alice did may not have been right, it wasn't evil. The townspeople want Alice gone because she saw them at their worse and knows their secrets.
Eli, Briggs, and two thugs come in and Paladin attacks the men. Eli runs out and grabs the driver's shotgun, unaware that it fell into mud and the barrels are clogged. The banker then goes back into the saloon and goes up the stairs to a second-story room. Meanwhile, the three men close in on the unarmed Paladin, but Biggley comes in and tosses Paladin his guns. Paladin thanks him for a second time as the thugs back off, and Biggley offers to take Paladin to Alice.
Before they can move, a shotgun goes off upstairs. Alice comes out and tells them that Eli tried to kill her but the weapon exploded in his face. She removes her dressing gown, revealing her saloon dress underneath, and welcomes the townspeople back. Biggley tells Paladin that he knew that Alice lived there all along, imprisoned by Eli and the others, and that he shouldn't have allowed it to happen. One of the thugs, Kincaid, speaks up and says that Alice wrote a book that could hurt the townspeople. Alice removes the manuscript pages from a hollow stair post and explains that she was writing her memoirs. The townspeople couldn't bear to have it published because it contained all of their secrets. When Briggs objects, Alice reminds him that he once fought and injured a half-dozen men for insulting his wife.
Paladin leads Alice to her daughter, and the older woman takes Maya's hand. When Maya hesitates, Paladin quotes Shakespeare, saying that love built anew is stronger than what came before. Biggley and the others leave and Alice goes to Paladin. He holds her in a comforting gesture and looks at Maya. After a moment, she smiles and takes Alice's hand.
Written by Gadfly on May 28, 2017