At the Carlton, a large Asian Indian man, Koro, carries a rolled-up carpet up to Paladin's suite. He walks in unannounced and puts the carpet down. Paladin tells him that his answer is still "no", even though the Rajah spared his life. Paladin refuses to guide someone across 150 miles of desert territory. Koro unrolls the carpet, revealing a woman Punya holding a gem. She asks if it's enough, and Paladin asks if Punya will be making the journey with them. Punya says that she will be if Paladin will be their protector. Koro says that he will show him the way, and Paladin looks at Punya and says that he already has.
Later, Paladin, Koro, and Punya ride to the encampment. They serve Paladin wine and Punya drinks with him She says that the Rajah is dead as well as most of the royal family, and that's why they came to America. Fanatics murdered the royal family, and the royalists need someone of high rank to rally the people. That person must be kept alive, and Punya says that the sole survivor is in a nearby tent. She shows Paladin the route to their settlement, Makasi. Koro warns that revolutionists may attempt to kill the survivor, the Rani, and Punya says that she doesn't think there is danger but will welcome Paladin's company. Paladin agrees and says that they should get started, and goes to tell the Rani despite Koro's objections.
Paladin goes into the Rani's tent and presents his card to her. He tells her that they're leaving, and she says that they leave at her command. Paladin points out that if she could make judgments then they wouldn't hire her. Koro comes in, grabs Paladin, and the Rani tells Koro to execute him. Once they're outside, Paladin breaks free and Koro says that he merely removed Paladin from the tent. When Paladin questions his faith in non-violence, Koro picks up a burning coal from a nearby brazier. Paladin admits that he's impressed, and Koro comes out and tells Koro to break camp. Ignoring her, Paladin asks how much water they have and Rani says that she used one of their four barrels to take a bath. He grabs her by the write and says that he commands their wagon train and if she interferes, he'll have her imprisoned or put on bread and water. The Rani pulls away but doesn't object, and Paladin knocks down her tent and tells her that she sleeps in the wagon.
The caravan leaves for Makasi, and in two days they make camp after traveling 50 miles. Koro says that someone is following them, and Paladin figures that it's a renegade Apache. As Koro hands over his telescope, the Rani asks to speak to Paladin privately. He goes into the wagon with her and she says that there is little chance that she will complete the journey alive. The Rani gives him her jewels and asks him to hide them, and explains that if she dies but they are never found, she will live on in the minds of her subjects. If she lives then she will need them to identify herself. Paladin takes the jewelry and leaves.
The next morning, Koro discovers that someone has broken open the water barrels on the ground. He summons Paladin, who points out that the full barrels weigh 180 lbs. and only he and Koro could lift. Koro says that the man following them could do it, and Paladin points out that no one but Koro has seen them. The gunfighter notes that someone tapped the water before they dumped the barrels, meaning anyone could have dropped them on the ground. They're three days from water, and Koro points out that they still have 14 bottles of wine and can walk. Paladin points out that they'll never make it without water, and asks for the keys to the wine chest. He says that the wine contains no intoxicants because they're against their belief, so they can give the wine to the horses. Paladin remembers that they must also anoint themselves with water from the Ganges each day, and asks where that water is. When Koro objects, Paladin point out that life is holy and that they will spend three days in Purgatory without the water. He puts Koro in charge of the gallon of Ganges water and says that they'll travel at night.
The caravan continues and they make camp for the day. Punya joins Paladin as he lies alone, who thought she and Koro were together. She says that since seeing Paladin she speaks to no other man, and Paladin kisses her. After a moment she kisses him.
The next night, they prepare for departure and Koro says that they could leave the wagons. Paladin tells him that the horses will last longer pulling then carrying. Punya tells Paladin that the Rani has collapsed from the heat, and she tells him that she has refused to drink while her subjects go without. Paladin tells her that she hasn't earned the responsibility to become a martyr, and has Punya make sure that she drinks.
As the caravan prepares to depart, the Apache renegade watches them from the brush. Paladin is lying with Punya, who holds his head in her hands. He assures her that they'll make it, and then spots the Apache and draws his gun. When the Apache jumps him, Paladin shoots him dead. He finds gold coins on the body and confronts Koro, saying that his friend is dead. Paladin wonders why Koro told him about the Apache if he hired him to kill the Rani, and Koro collapses dead with an arrow in his back.
Paladin hears Punya crying and runs to the wagon. She's dead of a knife wound, and the Rani watches her while holding the knife. She says that she knew Punya was the traitor that morning, when Punya touched her and her hands were cold and damp. Paladin realizes that Punya betrayed them, and tells the Rani that Koro is dead. He says that Koro died in her service, and they have to bury them there despite their beliefs that they must be buried in their homeland.
Written by Gadfly on Sep 24, 2017