At the Carlton, Hampton is contemplating a chessboard in the lounge. A drunken man, Colonel Oliver Lacey, comes over and sits down opposite Paladin. He starts talking about marriage while two men at the bar smirk and watch him carry on. When Paladin leaves, one of them comes over and tells Oliver that he's been there for two days drinking and talking about his wife that he hasn't seen in two years. He suggests that Oliver is hanging on there because he might embarrass his wife coming in, and Oliver starts choking him. Paladin knocks Oliver out and when the man goes for his gun, Paladin draws his derringer.
The bartender tells Paladin who Oliver is, and explains that Oliver used to be a regular before he married and bought a ranch near Redwood City. He warns Paladin that Oliver doesn't forgive someone besting him, just as Oliver wakes up and demands to know who hit him. Paladin brings up Oliver's conversation about marriage, and Oliver says that he's a lucky man. He talks about his wife Penelope and explains that he went to Mexico to find his fortune and provide Penelope with all the comforts that she's entitled to. Paladin asks if Penelope knows that Oliver is coming home, and Oliver says that a good woman doesn't have to know and he's going to surprise her. Paladin proposes a toast to Penelope, and Oliver joins in and then says that she's as straight as an arrow unlike other women. The bartender gives him a drink and says that it's for the road, but Oliver insists that he will leave when he wants.
Paladin suggests that Oliver is taking a lot for granted, and Oliver takes offense. The gunfighter proposes another toast to distract the colonel. Oliver drinks and passes out, and Paladin guides him to a chair. Hey Boy comes in and says that Paladin has a visitor. An older man, Euclid, presents Paladin's card and explains that Oliver wrote him that he's coming. Euclid explains that he's been in service to Oliver for many years, and warns that if Oliver rides to his ranch then there'll be bloodshed. He says that it's more than his life is worth to stop Oliver, and tells Paladin that Hey Boy gave him Paladin's card and he's "most understanding".
Paladin and Hey Boy take the unconscious Oliver to Paladin's suite and make him comfortable on the bed. As Hey Boy tries to leave, Paladin asks what Euclid told him about Oliver. Hey Boy says that Penelope hired a straw boss Andrews to help run the ranch, and the two became romantically involved. Paladin tells him to tend to Oliver's hangover when he wakes up.
Later, Paladin rides to the ranch and sees a sign on the gate warning that trespassers will be shot. He rides in anyway as Euclid watches from the shadows. Andrews answers the door and Paladin merely asks for shelter, saying that his horse has gone lame. Andrews says that it would be upsetting to Penelope and orders him to go. When Paladin asks what Penelope would say, Andrews insists that he gives the orders. Penelope listens to them and finally tells Andrews to take care of the horse and irritably orders him to do as she says. Once Andrews leaves, Penelope assures Paladin that Andrews isn't her husband. Andrews is outside the door and hears her.
Paladin sits down to dinner and compliments Penelope, and says that he finds it hard to believe that her husband would leave her. Penelope says that she got a letter from Oliver several months ago about his search or gold, and says that she would rather have him there. She realizes that Paladin has seen Oliver and asks when he's coming home. Paladin tells her that Oliver will be there the next day, and she explains that she hired Andrews to keep the other men skulking around, and now she has to handle Andrews while Oliver traipses through the jungles. She drops the plates and breaks into tears, and Paladin tells her that there are silly things that a man has to do once. Andrews peers in through the window and sees Paladin comforting Penelope.
At the Carlton, Oliver wakes up, draws his gun, and asks Hey Boy where he is. Hey Boy advises him to go back to sleep and explains that Paladin went to see Penelope. After Hey Boy removes Oliver's gun from his grasp, Oliver prepares to run out and finally takes his gun from Hey Boy before he goes.
At the ranch, Penelope asks Paladin to stay there with her. She doesn't want Oliver back, and Paladin points out that Oliver has come a long way to find that out.
Oliver rides up to the ranch and Andrews says that he's just a hired hand. He tells the colonel that Paladin is inside carrying on with Penelope. Oliver goes in and shoots the coffee cup out of Paladin's hand, and then challenges him to a fair fight. He figures that Paladin was going to add Penelope to his "collection", and Paladin advises him not to reach for his gun. Penelope says that Paladin is there for Oliver's sake, and Paladin disgustedly says that Penelope would be wasted on Oliver. She says that she was left alone to run the ranch, and Paladin tells Penelope that now she can run off with Andrews the way he wanted her to.
Penelope plays along and goes to Andrews, and a surprised Andrews assures Oliver that he's just a hired hand. He shoves Penelope away and says that he doesn't want her. Paladin reminds Oliver what he said earlier about every man wanting Penelope, and a confused Andrews agrees and then, realizing that it puts him in trouble, denies it. He says that he can't stand the sight of Penelope, and Oliver takes offense at that and attacks Andrews with his fist.
Paladin holds Oliver back and advises him to get out while he can. Once he leaves, Paladin tells Oliver that Penelope risked her life to save him, proving her devotion. Oliver admits that he's a fool, and Paladin tells Penelope that Oliver is a lucky man. Penelope goes to Oliver and they gaze lovingly into each other's eyes and then kiss as Paladin leaves.
Outside, Euclid is waiting and Paladin nods to the old man. The servant smiles, and Andrews tells Paladin that he could have got Penelope. Paladin tells him that he didn't even come close and rides off.
Written by Gadfly on Aug 20, 2017