In the lobby of the Carlton, Paladin is watching a chess game between two women when Baron Otto van Albrecht asks if Paladin undertakes certain types of employment. Otto introduces himself and says that he wants Paladin to find a man for him. He asks to talk to Paladin private, and Paladin agrees. The baron refuses to discuss his reasons for wanting the man found, and gives Paladin a jeweled ring as his fee. As for the man, Carl Frome, Otto explains that he's killed a dozen people and is a corruptor. Frome is in Parrish, New Mexico, and gives Paladin proof of who Frome is.
Paladin concedes that Frome is a man who should be brought to justice, but warns that he's not a killer. Otto agrees and says that they leave in the morning. As he gets up to go, Otto uses two canes and assures Paladin that they won't interfere with the pursuit. The older man says that Paladin is a knight and a spiritual assassin who works for money, and freely concedes that he takes advantage of his breeding. Unimpressed, Paladin says that the week will inherit the earth. He discovers that the ring won't fit either of the women, puts it on himself, and advises them to study their chess.
Paladin and Otto ride to Parrish and the baron views the town with distaste. They go to the hotel and a boy, Waco, runs over to open the door. He asks Paladin if he's fast with his gun, and Paladin puts him off. Inside, there's no one there. Waco arrives with his mother, Pegine, and Paladin says that he'll take a room. As the two men go to their room, Waco mock-draws on Paladin.
Later, Otto asks Pegine if she's seen Frome. She isn't interested, and Otto tells her that he doesn't want her impudence. Paladin interrupts and Pegine storms out. The gunfighter warns Otto that the people aren't peasants and have pride. He goes to the cantina that Pegine also runs, and tells her that Otto is resting. Two men are playing cards, and Paladin asks about Frome by name. Pegine says that she minds her own business, and the two men remain silent. Once Paladin goes back to the hotel, one of the men--Frome--gets up and asks Pegine if Otto walks with canes. Pegine confirms that he does, and Frome walks out. He sees Paladin go into the hotel, and Waco asks Frome if he's going to do more practice serving. Frome says that he isn't.
Pegine brings the food to the men's hotel rooms, and Paladin tells her that Frome has killed twelve men in cold blood. She doesn't believe them and insists that she minds her own business, and Otto warns her that Frome uses men and only takes and destroys. When Pegine refuses to talk, Otto says that the people haven't learned the difference between loyalty and stupidity. She tells them to be gone by morning and storms out, and Paladin tells Otto that if Frome is there then he'll find him. As they go out the door, Paladin shoves Otto to the side and ducks himself as a shotgun blasts comes through the door.
Paladin goes out and sees no one with a gun. Pegine has heard the noise and realizes that someone shot at them with a shotgun. They go inside and Paladin says that it wasn't Frome in person but Waco. Pegine calls him a liar, but Paladin tells her that he doesn't lie. They go down to the desk and Pegine discovers that her shotgun is missing. She says that anyone could have taken it, and says that Waco has never been bad. Paladin suggests that someone Waco liked and trusted told him to shoot, and figures that he's hiding with Frome. Pegine points out a closed gambling hall and says that Waco sometimes plays in there, and that he'll come out for her.
Pegine calls to Waco, who is inside with Frome. Frome goes upstairs to a window while Waco comes out She tells Waco to hand over the shotgun, and confirms that it's been fired. Pegine slaps him, and Paladin comes over and asks what Frome paid him to shoot Otto. Waco says that Frome told him that it would be all right, and he's the only one who treats him good. Pegine pries his hand open, revealing several pennies, and Waco says that Frome is inside.
Pegine gets Waco out of the way and then aims the shotgun at the door and tells Frome to come out. Frome shoots the shotgun out of her hand, and Paladin throws a barrel through a window and waits. Frome comes down to investigate, and Paladin kicks the door open and shoots. His opponent shoots back, knocking off Paladin's hat, and Paladin climbs up to the second floor.
Frome comes out and sees Otto, and trains his revolver on him while moving to his horse. Paladin jumps on him, knocking him to the ground, and takes his gun. He gives it to Otto and checks on Pegine. Otto says that it's been a long time and shoots Frome dead, The baron says that when Frome was young, he was a choir boy. Now the van Albrecht line has been destroyed and Otto is the last of the line. Paladin realizes that Frome was Otto's son, and Otto wonders whose fault it was. Waco spits on Otto and runs off, and Paladin gives Otto his ring back and rides off.
Written by Gadfly on Jul 2, 2017