Paladin rides into town and approaches the local blacksmith. He asks where he can find Sheriff John Dobbs, and the blacksmith says that Paladin isn't the only one asking about the sheriff. Gunshots ring out down the street, and the blacksmith Barney says that two of them rode into town a while ago and he figures there'll be more before Dobbs turns in his badge the next morning.
Following the gunshots, Paladin goes to the corral where the two men, Les Horgan and Turkey Tate, are shooting at the ropes holding two colts. They see Paladin and he admits that he's looking for Dobbs. The men figure that he's Dobbs and says that they're betting on whether they can shoot the ropes. Les tells Paladin that if he wants to meet Dobbs he'll have to wait in line, and Jake Condos rode into town that morning and Dobbs killed Jake's two brothers a year ago when they robbed the express office. Paladin points out that Dobbs is the fastest, but Les notes that no one has tried Dobbs in a year and they should be able to outnumber him. Paladin says that he's been hired to deal with Dobbs and if someone else takes Dobbs out then he rides out empty As Les chuckles, Paladin goes over and unties the colts. Once they run off, he walks away.
Later, Paladin goes to Dobbs place and presents his card. He and Dobbs talk privately, and Dobbs doesn't seem to know Paladin's name even though it was on the card. Dobbs tells his girlfriend Ria to finish up outside. In the kitchen, Dobbs ties on his gun and already knows that Paladin is in town. Paladin tells him that there are a lot of gunmen in town to kill Dobbs as soon as he removes his badge. Dobbs says that he has to some day and it's no business of Paladin's. Paladin reads a newspaper article about Dobbs' retirement He explains that he got the article and$10 anonymously, and Dobbs tells him to leave them alone and it'll be all right.
Ria comes in and Dobbs looks at her, and she leaves. Paladin explains the gunmen would have to fight him for the first crack at Dobbs, and if ends up facing Dobbs then he'll fake missing. Dobbs tells Paladin that Paladin better be quick and straight if he's going to shoot at him. Disgusted, Paladin says that he's going to find the man who sent him the money, give it back, and watch as Dobbs is killed.
Paladin goes to the saloon, and Les and Turkey Tate are there. They walk over to where Jake is standing at the bar and point Paladin out. Meanwhile, Paladin tells the bartender Willie to spread the word that he wants to give the money back. Jake comes over and introduces himself, and offers a toast to the man who kills Dobbs. Paladin doesn't drink, and Jake says that he's disappointed as Paladin tosses the glass away. He tells willie that he'll drink alone, and then punches Dobbs and draws his gun. Paladin tells Dobbs that he won't make any money killing him and tells him to crawl out of his gun belt or he'll kill him. Jake does so and Paladin tells Les and Turkey Tate to do the same. Once they do, Paladin walks out. Someone shoots at him from outside, just missing, and he ducks back as the shooter runs off.
Going out, Paladin spots a window light up at the Dobbs house. He looks in and sees Ria training a rifle on the door. After a moment, she goes to another window and Paladin gets the drop on her. He asks where her lover is, and Ria says that he's with a prisoner. Paladin figures that she sent him the money, and ria says that he talks just like the other gunmen. He asks if she'd kill for Dobbs, and Ria insists that it isn't important. Paladin sits her down and explains that Dobbs doesn't want his help and he's been trying to get the gunmen to fight him, not Dobbs. Ria has him swear on a Bible that he's telling the truth, and says that her lover is a good man but he's afraid and they'll kill him. Paladin wonders why she--and Dobbs--think that they'll succeed when they haven't before, and Ria refuses to tell him because it would put Dobbs' life in Paladin's hands and Dobbs would hate her.
Paladin asks if Ria's love is strong enough to bury Dobbs' hate. She shows him a pair of spectacles and Paladin realizes that Dobbs is losing his eyesight. Ria asks if Paladin will help her man, and Paladin says that he'll help her. He tells her that she's a beautiful woman and leaves.
The next morning, Dobbs returns with his horse and goes to the livery. Paladin is waiting and asks what the sign behind him says. He figures that Dobbs couldn't read his card, either, and explains that Ria told him knowing that Paladin would have to tell Dobbs and she risked losing him. Dobbs tells Paladin to mind his own business, but Paladin says that he's going to call him out at 9 and he'll fake losing. If Dobbs kills him it will be because he let Dobbs kill him, and Dobbs will never know if it could have been another way, and the choice is Dobbs.
The next morning, Jake, Les, and Turkey Tate watch with the townspeople. As the clock strikes 9, Dobbs resigns and everyone walks away from him. Paladin steps out and calls Dobbs out, insulting him and giving him to the count of three to make a play. He counts down, and the two men draw. Dobbs shoots the gun out of Paladin's hand, then walks over and tells Paladin that he's not worth killing and orders him out of town. Paladin goes and Dobbs goes over to the other three gunmen and looks each one over. They quickly run off, and Dobbs goes over to Ria. Together they leave town, heading for Oregon.
As the couple rides out of town, Paladin approaches them and offers Ria her money back, saying he earned it and has the right to give it back. Ria takes it and thanks him, and Dobbs admits that when he pulled his gun he hadn't made up his mind yet. Paladin shows him the rip in his sleeve, revealing that he faked losing his gun, and says that it would have been safer if he had asked Dobbs not to shoot at him. he rides off, and Dobbs puts on his spectacles and leaves with Ria.
Written by Gadfly on Jul 23, 2017