A young woman, Rivka Shotness, enters the Carlton dining room as Paladin is having dinner with his date, Viola Nasby. Paladin finally notices Rivka, who confirms that she's there to see Paladin. He invites her to join them for dinner and Rivka accepts. She sits down and explains that she tried to send Paladin a telegram but the operator in Calabasas was afraid to send it. Rivka asks if Viola if she dresses like she does in the daytime, and then says that everyone except her father Nathan are afraid, and she came to Paladin for help. She explains that Nathan reported an outlaw, Billy Buckstone, as a murderer. When he reported it to the sheriff, the sheriff tried to arrest Nathan. All of the witnesses against Billy refuse to testify. Billy offered Nathan $2,000 if he would leave town for a week when the trial would be over. Viola suggests that Rivka bring Nathan to San Francisco, and she says that Calabasas has much less killing a year than their home country. Intrigued, Paladin agrees to take the case. Once Rivka goes, Viola tells him to go and help her while she takes care of herself.
Paladin and Rivka soon arrive in Calabasas and she takes him to her wagon. Nathan is in the nearby saloon for his afternoon beer, and Paladin goes in. As he arrives, a man Smollet taunts Nathan. Nathan insults him back, saying to wash the stink out of his clothes, and Smollet invites him to buy him a drink. The immigrant tells him to drink with his friends while he drinks with his, and Smollet says that Nathan don't have any friends. He continues to taunt Nathan, pointing out that he doesn't carry a gun, and suggests that Paladin loan him one. Paladin slides his gun across the bar to Nathan, and Nathan hands it back. Smollet asks why Nathan wants to see Billy hung, and Nathan tells him that he doesn't care and figures the law should do its job. The thug hands his gun to Nathan and invites him to point it at him. Nathan professionally takes the gun apart and points out how cheap it is, and says that Smollet and the men like him are more concerned about appearances then quality. Smollet's friends laugh at Smollet, who tells Nathan that they'll see each later and find out who gets the last laugh, and walks out.
Nathan pays for his beer and goes out. Paladin follows him and Nathan complains that Rivka ran away without telling him. She says that she hired Paladin, and Nathan says that they didn't come to America to hire killers. Paladin says that he's not a hired killer, and explains that he didn't take the $2,000 quoting the Mishnah, and Nathan is duly impressed. He tells Rivka to go home and make food for their guests. Once she leaves, Nathan gets on his wagon to deliver mail, and says that Paladin isn't accustomed to the amount of violence that he saw in his home country. He figures that when his time comes, he'll meet the Angel of death. However, Nathan agrees to let Paladin ride with him.
The two men head out of town and come to what Nathan readily identifies as a good spot for an ambush. He tells Paladin that they're going to play chess, and gets out of the wagon with his rifle. Nathan sends the wagon on ahead while he and Paladin secretly move to a cliff up above. Smollet leaps aboard but discovers that there's no one there. He jumps to the road and yells to Nathan, promising to kill him. He runs off and Paladin warns Nathan that he made a fool of the man and Smollet won't rest until he's killed Nathan. He offers to stay the night in the house, but Nathan jokingly says that he doesn't want Paladin tempted by Rivka. However, he offers to have Paladin for dinner.
Smollet goes to the Shotness home and breaks in. he grabs Rivka. Later, Nathan goes to Paladin's hotel room and says that Rivka is gone and Smolett took her to force Nathan to leave town until after the trial. He wonders if their way is the right way, and Paladin points out that he's no killer. Nathan asks what he should do, and Paladin says he'll follow the messenger Smolett sends to tell Billy that Nathan still testified against him. Then he'll follow the messenger back to Rivka. Paladin promises Nathan that he'll rescue Rivka.
The next day, Paladin watches from across the street as Nathan goes to the courthouse. The messenger rides off and Paladin follows him out of town. Smolett is watching for the man and when he signals, Smolett tells Rivka that Nathan isn't going to gloat over putting Billy away. He takes out a knife and prepares to kill Rivka, and Paladin arrives and holds Smolett and the messenger at gunpoint. When the messenger goes for his gun, Paladin shoots him and Smolett shoots Paladin. Paladin falls off the ledge above and crawls to cover as Smolett moves in. The wounded gunfighter shoots Smolett in the arm with his derringer,
That night, Paladin has dinner with Nathan and Rivka. When Rivka invites Paladin to stay over, Paladin looks at Nathan. Nathan extends the invitation as well, but Paladin says that he has his customers and quotes the Torah. Amused, Nathan says that only in America could a hired killer quote the Torah, and Paladin jokingly assures him that he's not a hired killer.
Written by Gadfly on Sep 17, 2017