Paladin is dining in his suite and lecturing the steward about making salad when Hey Boy comes in. Hey Boy suggests that Paladin play blackjack, but Paladin says that he's going to relax in his suite. However, Paladin takes interest when he learns that the blackjack dealer is a woman. When Paladin arrives, the woman--Edna Harden--sees Paladin and immediately sets a $100 minimum. The players bow out but Paladin tosses his card down. Edna tells him that she's Jess Harden's wife, and they say that he stole $80,000 from the bank in War Lance. War Lance is a ghost town now, and when someone blasted the bank vault open, Jess was accused. Jess is coming home in a week, and the money never turned up. He told Edna to meet him at the general store where she worked. She pays Paladin in chips and says that she'll be waiting for him in War Lance in a week, and Paladin cashes out.
Several days later, Paladin rides into War Lance and several armed men are waiting for her. They all draw a bead on him, figuring that he might be Jess, but one of them--Deakin--is in the hotel and points out that if they shoot him then they won't find where he hid the money. Deakin smashes a window open and Paladin takes cover as the man shoots at him. Edna is in the general store and fires at Deakin and his man Corbin, and another man opens fire as well. One man goes down, and Paladin climbs up the second store of a building.
Deakin finally yells out, telling the others that he's got squatter's right and they should clear out. The others continue shooting. Paladin slips into the general store and tells Edna to take it easy. There's a dead man and a horse on the street. Edna says that the horse is hers and she shot the man, and points out that Paladin isn't shooting anyone. Paladin tells her that he'll run to the saloon next to the saloon next to the hotel and he'll clean it out while Edna covers him. Edna agrees and Paladin runs over to the saloon. One man, Al Long, is there and is wounded as he covers Paladin. Deakin has no idea who Al is.
Inside the saloon, Al collapses from his wound. Paladin wonders why Al helped him, and Al says that he wanted to know why Paladin was with Edna. The gunfighter notices that Al has iron cuff marks on his wrists,
Deakin tells Corbin that he had the idea seven years ago, but Corbin warns him that the others had the same idea.
Paladin sterilizes his knife blade and prepares to cut the bullet out of Al. Al talks about how he had a wasted life
Deakin tells Corbin that they should have rushed Edna before the others showed up. Corbin wonders what happens if Jess doesn't show up, and Deakin figures that he will come for his wife and the money. Unimpressed, Deakin says that he's spent seven years thinking about how he'd spend the $80,000. Corbin reminds him that his share is only $40,000, and says that they have to get the money first.
After Paladin removes the bullet from Al's side, he patches him up as best he can Al talks about how prison taught him that every man has to die sooner or later, and asks for the bullet. When Paladin goes to get it, another of the men--Gruber--gets the drop on him. Gruber tosses away Paladin's revolver, and Corbin comes in and kills Gruber. Paladin shoots Corbin with his derringer, and Al warns that others will come along. Paladin has already worked out that he's Jess, and Al admits it. He says that he didn't steal the money. Jess blew up the money but there was nothing inside because the town was already going under.
Edna comes in and listens as Jess says that he wanted the money for Edna, and she said she'd die if they didn't get out of the town. Edna insists that Jess is lying, and he's been dead to her for seven years. She complains that Jess made a card dealer out of her and prepares to torture Jess for the truth. Paladin stops her and says that all he's got left is his memory of Edna. She says that she and Paladin could spend the money together but Paladin figures that he can't trust her.
Jess calls to Edna, and she goes to him. She says that she has a question for him, and Jess says that he loves her with his dying breath. Edna says that it isn't fair, and Deakin runs in. He asks if Paladin told him where the money is, and Paladin tells him that he didn't but he would have told Edna. Edna insists that there isn't any money, but Deakin figures that she's a liar and he's going to stick to her until she decides to cut in. Paladin says that Edna might hold out for a long time, and Edna demands that Paladin tell Deakin the truth. He refuses, and Deakin tells Edna that he'll be there behind her no matter what. Paladin sarcastically hopes that they'll be happy together and rides off.
Written by Gadfly on Aug 27, 2017