Paladin rides out to meet with Nora Larson, and Paladin tells her that all the trial paperwork shows that her husband Brian is guilty. Brian says that three other men committed the murder but he refuses to identify them. Nora insists that her husband is just protecting her friends, and Paladin points out that she's made five appeals and they've all been turned down. She asks Paladin to talk to him in the next three weeks, get the description of the men, and then they'll be able to get a pardon for Brian. Trowbridge, the guard on Brian's cell, has agreed to let Paladin in and knows that Brian is telling the truth. Nora asks if Paladin wants his $1,000 in advance, and he says that he'll talk to Brian first.
Later, Trowbridge lets Paladin in where the warden's escape dogs are tied up. Paladin points out that Trowbridge is taking him directly to Brian's cell rather than to the warden's office first, and Trowbridge says that it's all been arranged and he believes in Brian.
The guard takes Paladin into the cell block and says that he'll bring Brian up from solitary. Trowbridge explains that once a prisoner is locked up, no one typically sees them again. Eventually, Trowbridge brings Brian in and the man is clearly shocked. When Paladin starts to talk to him, Trowbridge knocks Paladin out from behind and assures Brian that no one will remember what he looks like after two years. Brian shaves while Trowbridge puts Paladin in a prisoner's uniform.
The next morning, Paladin wakes up and finds himself in Brian's cell. He yells for a guard and when another guard comes in with food, Paladin tells him that Brian escaped with Trowbridge's help. The guard doesn't believe Paladin, and says that when Trowbridge quit that morning he told the warden everything. Paladin grabs him, and a second guard comes in and knocks Paladin back. The man then brings in another prisoner, O'Connor, and put him in the cell with Paladin.
Later, Warden Menlo comes in and brings in a chair. He says that Paladin will hang first, and the guards let Paladin out. Menlo has Paladin sit down and ignores his explanation, and measures his neck for a painless hanging. Paladin relates recent political events and says that Nora said that Brian wasn't supposed to hang for three more weeks. Menlo and the guards still don't believe him, and threaten to shoot him in the legs and carry him up the scaffold the next day. Once Paladin sits down, Menlo tells him it was a clever plan to pretend to be an outsider. The first guard explains that Trowbridge admitted to helping "Brian" try to escape, giving him information and food to pretend that he's an outsider.
Nora comes in and pretends that Paladin is her husband. Paladin goes to the bars and asks her what she wants him to do. She says that their plan didn't work, and Paladin asks if she will remember her. Nora quickly turns and leaves, and Paladin jumps the guards. They soon subdue him and toss him back in the cell.
Once they're alone, O'Connor says that he knows Paladin isn't Brian. He says that the man he killed robbed him, and says that he's not as dumb as Menlo. O'Connor goes into a fury and yells for Menlo, and Paladin says that they wouldn't pay attention to him if they heard hm. The hulking prisoner manages to pull a bar out of the window, and Paladin uses the bar to pry the other bar out. O'Connor says that he just wants to be free and have people leave him alone. He confirms that there's a 12' drop to the ground, and they try to slip out the window. O'Connor is too large to go through, and he tells Paladin to go. Paladin thanks him and climbs down.
The guards soon unleash the hounds and they track Paladin across the fields. Paladin finds Trowbridge dead, shot to the chest, and keeps going. The hounds' keeper, Jose, follows them.
Paladin gets to Nora's cabin and goes to the door. He hears Nora sobbing and breaks in, and finds her beaten on the floor. Brian comes in, wearing Paladin's clothes and carrying a gun, and says that she turned soft and wanted to send word to the prison who Paladin really is. He said that it would have spoiled his plan, and now that Paladin escaped they'll figure that he killed Trowbridge and Nora. Brian will then claim to be a stranger that came by and killed Paladin in self-defense.
The dogs bark outside, and Paladin tells Brian that if they get in then they'll kill him because they're following the scent on the clothing. Brian looks at the door as the hounds arrive, and Paladin knocks him out and barricades the door. He takes back his clothing, while Jose arrives and calms down the hounds. Brian wakes up and leaps out the window, and the hounds tear him apart.
Once Paladin confirms that Brian is dead, he goes to Nora. She wonders how her love could have turned out so bad, and Paladin tells her that love is what they do with it.
Written by Gadfly on Sep 24, 2017