At the Carlton, rancher Thaddeus Taylor approaches Paladin in the lobby as a woman lights his cigar. Thad then introduces himself to Paladin and explains that Lydia backed him up into a corner. The rancher convinced Lydia to go to San Francisco with him, and spins a story about how they'll say Paladin is a land buyer. Paladin has no idea what Thad is talking about, and Thad explains that Lydia is his housekeeper and he's going to marry her... and he'll pay Paladin a thousand dollars to get him out of the marriage. Thad hastily assures Paladin that he doesn't want Lydia dead, and admits that he can't say "no" to her.
Lydia comes in and yells at Thad for talking to strangers. She dismisses Paladin as a gambler and a sinner, and tells Thad to come along. As they start to walk away, Paladin tells Thad that he's interested in his original proposition. They negotiate over the "land transfer", and Lydia perks up when Paladin offers $5,000 but says that he'll have to see the land immediately. She says that they're just heading back home and will be glad to show Paladin the land.
Paladin, Thad, and Lydia soon arrive at Thad's ranch and Lydia's brother Clyde greets them. Paladin tells Clyde to get his gear, and Clyde wonders where Lydia's ring is. She says that she'll explain later, and Thad half-heartedly says that it's none of Clyde's business. As they go in, Lydia tells Thad to remove his boots. Paladin lights a cigar and goes in. When Clyde objects, Thad grabs a piece of firewood and tells him to mind his business. Paladin asks Lydia to bring him a glass of water and goes inside. Once they're alone, Paladin suggests that Thad take a stick to Lydia. The rancher says that he would never do that to a woman, but Paladin isn't impressed. Lydia comes back with the water, thrusts it at him, and says that the sooner he checks the land, the sooner he can leave. Paladin tells her that he'll leave when he's ready and tells her to bring him a cup of coffee instead.
Later, Paladin and Thad sit down to eat. Paladin subtly complains about Lydia's cooking, dismissing it as chuckwagon cooking, Lydia finally has enough and tells Thad to tell Paladin to leave. Paladin tells her that she has no part in the transaction, and Lydia turns to Thad. Thad says nothing, and Lydia says that she has an interest in selling the land because they're marrying. Paladin bursts out laughing, dismissing it as a tall story, and tells Lydia that Thad is young and wealthy. Lydia demands that Thad run Paladin off, and threatens to leave him if he doesn't. Once she storms off, Paladin points out that Thad has been asked for a decision. Lydia demands an answer, and Thad says that he has to talk privately to Paladin.
The two men retire to the study and Thad complains that Paladin has thrown the whole thing back into his lap. The rancher wants Paladin to make it clear that he doesn't want to see Lydia's face again. Lydia overhears them and comes in, and says that she'll leave as soon as Clyde finds her a place and will stay out of sight until then.
The next morning, Paladin approaches Lydia in the kitchen and apologizes for hurting her. She thanks him for doing her the favor, saying that no one would be unhappy with a weakling. Paladin says that it's wise of her and starts to go, and Lydia goes on about how Thad doesn't care about her despite her kindness. She figures that Paladin likes women crawling to him, and insists that she doesn't have to beg. She then offers Paladin all of the money she's saved--over $300--and explains that she saw her father beat his wife into a grave and had five brothers just as shiftless. Lydia tells Paladin that she was an only child and the only one who did a lick of work. She asks Paladin to teach her how to be a proper female kind of woman and Thad to love her the way that she loves him so much that it hurts.
Paladin tells her to put her money away and when she grabs him, tells her to never touch a man in fear or desperation, and fine women perpetuate the myth that their touch is rare and precious. Lydia insists that it doesn't make sense, and Paladin tells her that the next lesson is to forget about logic. Paladin starts giving her lessons about how to dress up, and Lydia says that she hates him. She then switches moods and tries to follow Paladin's lessons. He keeps correcting her until she concedes that he's right.
As Lydia works on her hair, Clyde comes in with Lydia's new clothing and complains that people laughed at him for buying frilly clothing. Paladin lets Lydia takes over, and she quickly jollies his brother out of his mood. Once he leaves, Lydia is astonished that it was so easy and decides that all men are children. Paladin tells her that she's just about ready.
The "new" Lydia soon comes down to Thad, who is waiting with Paladin and Clyde. Thad admits that she went out of her way to help him, and apologizes for saying anything. Lydia says that she's realized that he doesn't want to be tied down, and says that she's leaving for San Francisco with Paladin. Thad takes offense and Paladin hastily tries to correct her. She insists that she meant what she said, and Clyde and Thad both take offense. Thad figures that Paladin has changed Lydia, and Clyde punches Paladin out the door. Paladin recovers and punches Clyde, who shrugs it off. Clyde knocks him down again, and Lydia tries to go to Paladin, insisting that she loves him. Thad tells her that she has to have a house and a kitchen, and maybe children.
Paladin recovers and tells Clyde that he'd be a fool to charge him again. Clyde charges him and Paladin trips him into a nearby water trough. Thad gives Paladin the money and tells him to leave, and Lydia says that Paladin will be leaving alone. The rancher figures that he's worked things out for himself, and Lydia suggests that Paladin should have stayed in San Francisco and not butted in. As Paladin leaves, Lydia tells Thad that if he's going to track mud in, he's going to sweep it out. Paladin hears her and figures that his job is done, and goes as Thad removes his boots.
Written by Gadfly on Jul 9, 2017