Paladin spots a newspaper ad placed by Abe Redrock, saying that the sheriff of Latigo has offered a reward for him so he's putting out a $500 bounty on the sheriff. Intrigued, Paladin sends his card to Abe and soon travels to Latigo. He waits at a stage rest stop until a stagecoach comes by so he can get some water. An Indian rides up and one passenger gives a gun to another man, salesman Alfred E. Mossman, and suggests that Alfred take a shot at the Indian. Alfred nervously refuses, and the other passenger Stennis is glad to shoot. Paladin takes the gun from him and says that the Indian is carrying a message. Stennis tells Paladin that he owns half of Latigo but Paladin ignores him.
Paladin steps out and gives the message to the driver. When Stennis grabs a gun, Paladin punches him unconscious. The driver draws his gun and fires at the Indian, who shoots back and wounds him before riding off. Stennis tells Paladin that the Indian was Abe Redrock, the sheriff's brother. He complains that the sheriff, Jim, won't deal with his thieving brother, and Paladin orders him in the wagon. As they pack up, Paladin checks the note and then drives the stage to Latigo.
When they arrive in Latigo, Stennis starts talking to the townspeople about Jim about how he failed and complains that Abe got away and shot a white man. He has Alfred confirm that what he said is correct, and Alfred hands out his card to the crowd. Paladin approaches Jim and shows him the note that has Jim's name on it. Stennis and the townspeople come over and tell Jim to quit if he can't do anything about Abe. Jim says that he has no fondness for his brother and asks if Jim fired in self-defense. Stennis asks if Jim is arguing with him, derisively calling him "Indian," and Jim assures him that he isn't. When they jokingly say that they should elect a mule as mayor, Paladin says that the odds favor a jackass and goes off with Jim.
That night at Jim's place, Paladin has dinner with Jim's wife and son. Jim explains that they found the bodies of Abe and Jim under a pile of bodies. They went to a school in the East, but when they came back they went their separate ways. Jim has his wife Ellie take their son Johnny inside and then says that Abe is going to get himself killed. He gets drunk and commits minor thefts just to embarrass him. Jim insulted him in the note, sending him a "war bonnet" made of chicken feathers. He says that Abe knows all of his tricks, and Paladin agrees to take Jim's reward of $200 to bring Abe in. Jim agrees but says that he wants Abe alive and sound.
Paladin rides out following the map that Jim drew him . He makes camp for the night and rigs ac crude trap with a bottle of whiskey, a string, and two tin cups. Abe creeps into the camp later and sets off the trap, and when Abe shoots at the cans, Paladin jumps him. The two men fight and Paladin takes Abe down. Abe offers him the $500, and Paladin assures him that he knows all about it.
The next day, Paladin takes Abe into Latigo and turns him over to Jim. Abe looks at Jim's badge and says that it's heap fancy, and Jim shoves him. A man, Kroll, tells Jim to scalp Abe and asks what he's going to do with him. Jim says that a court will decide and goes into the office with Abe and Paladin. Abe realizes that he's Jim's first prisoner and taunts Jim over putting a reward on him but not bank robbers and killers. Jim punches his brother and locks him up, and says that he wishes he was rid of Abe.
Paladin takes a note for the $200 and points out that law enforcement is part of the sheriff's job, not self-gratification. Jim tells him that he figures the badge stands for civilization and a way of life for his family. He knows that the townspeople elected him as a joke, but insists that it's worth it because it's the only chance he'll get it. Abe tells him that if he kisses the feet of the white men then he'll never change. Paladin tells Jim that no matter Abe's flaws, at least he has his self-respect.
Stennis and the other townsmen come in with Alfred. Paladin assures Stennis that he can get off one shot, and Jim pistol-whips him from behind. Stennis tells Jim to open up the cell so they can run Abe back to the reservation, and Jim refuses at first. He finally hands over the cell keys, and Stennis tells Jim that he's a smart boy as well as a good one. They take Abe out, and Abe tells Jim that he's climbed high.
Once the townsmen leave, Paladin wakes up and punches Jim. He takes his gun and says that he'll deliver him to Abe. Jim promises to kill Paladin for what he's done, and Paladin sarcastically says that the townspeople wouldn't approve. Alfred comes back in and says that he's never been party to violence before. He tells them that Stennis had a coil of rope and is heading to Weaver's Wash, and Paladin asks Jim what he's going to do. Jim goes out and Paladin goes with him. After a moment, Alfred follows them.
At Weaver's Wash, Stennis beats Abe but he refuses to beg. Jim and Paladin ride up and Jim says that he came to stop it. He orders them to untie Abe, and Paladin points out to Stennis that Stennis' men aren't going to back him except for Kroll. Paladin figures that the odds are even and hands his gun to Jim. Stennis insults the other men but they stand back and Jim unties Abe. Kroll goes for his gun and Paladin kills him. When Stennis tries to grab Kroll's gun, Paladin warns him against it and tells Abe that he's delivered Jim to him for free. The two brothers smile briefly at each other, and Paladin tells the townsmen that Jim can make a decent law officer if they give him half a chance. With that, Paladin rides off.
Jim helps Abe up and yanks Stennis' rifle away. Stennis and the townsmen walk off. Meanwhile, Alfred rides up and finds Paladin. He says that he tried to follow them but got lost. Paladin points out that the salesman is carrying a gun again and wonders where he got the horse. Alfred finally admits that he stole it, and Paladin tells him that he'll put in a good word with Jim and leads him back to Latigo.
Written by Gadfly on Aug 27, 2017