Paladin rides into town, and two men Collie March and his father Brock watch him arrive. They go over and figure that Paladin is Colonel Charles Draco's killer. When he tries to brush past them, they shove him back and Paladin attacks them. A wheelchair-bound Draco watches from his house and finally calls his sister Myra in. he directs her attention to the fight and says that Paladin must be the man that he sent for. When Myra tries to walk off, Draco insists that she watch.
As the fight continues, Brother Grace rides up and orders them all to stop. He finally steps in and stops Paladin, and introduces himself as a circuit minister. Paladin explains how the fight started, and Grace figures that Paladin is the one. He points out that it was a quiet town preparing to celebrate the eve of St. Elmo until Paladin rode in, and advises Paladin to hand over his weapon if Paladin wants him to change his judgment. Paladin refuses, just as Myra walks up, and asks who the Marchs are. Grace says that they're the men that Paladin was hired to kill.
Myra tells Paladin that Draco wants her to take Paladin to their house. She says that Draco saw him fight and was impressed, and explains that violence sickens her. Paladin points out that sometimes there is no choice, but Myra isn't impressed. He recites the belief that if Elmo receives a gift that he favors, he will perform a miracle. Inside, Draco's servant Sven directs Paladin to the library. Draco pours drinks and says that they drink to death. Paladin refuses and Draco points out that death is implicit in Paladin's business. He asks to see Paladin's gun, but Paladin refuses.
Amused, Draco invites him to sit down and explains that he owns the valley and the river that runs down the center. He charges for people to get to the water, and a few have sunk wells and sell the money to the others. Collie and Brock are the leaders, and the sheriff died over a year ago. Draco tells him that eight months ago, Brock shot him and put him in the chair. Paladin tells him that he doesn't hire out for hatred or revenge, and explains that he has resisted the temptation in the past to be judge, jury, and executioner. Draco insists that Paladin is the man he wants, and demands that he kill those who defy his authority.
As Paladin walks out, Draco clutches at his chest in pain. Sven comes in and tells him that anger is bad for him in his condition. As he carries Draco out, Draco says that they'll speak at dinner and Paladin is the only one on his side if anyone is. Paladin glances at the empty wheelchair and the bag of money that Draco offered him.
That night, Paladin and Draco play chess after dinner. A shot comes in the window and Paladin gets Draco to cover. There's no second shot, and Draco says that the bullet was meant for Paladin. Myra and Sven come in, and Paladin digs the bullet out of the mantle. As he and Draco examine it, the bell rings. It's Grace, who says that he's come to invite Draco to the midnight service. Draco agrees and Paladin explains that someone shot at them, and he'll be there as well. Once Grace leaves, Draco tosses Paladin the money and figures that he's come around to his side. Sven wheels Draco out, and Myra asks if the money is why Paladin is going. Paladin asks how Brock shot Draco, and Myra says that Draco insulted Brock and whipped him. It wasn't just the water rights, but the facts that Brock dared talk to her like a woman. She figures that Draco is going because Brock will be there, and Paladin suggests that she wear something a little less somber.
That night, the group gets into the carriage and goes to the church. They enter and see Brock, and Draco whispers to Paladin to shoot now. Paladin tells him that "now" is as good a time as ever, and walks forward. Collie prepares to defend his father, but Paladin removes his gun belt and his derringer and puts them on an altar. Grace says that it's a miracle, and Paladin goes back to Draco and looks at him. After a moment, Brock and Collie remove their guns as well.
Draco says that it wasn't a miracle but they will have one, and manages to stand up. Clearly in pain, he stumbles down the aisle and then stands up straight and goes to the guns. He picks up Paladin's revolver and says that Paladin cheated him. Sven runs forward and stops him, and Draco collapses, dead. Paladin realizes that Sven fired the shot, and Sven admitted that he tried to frighten him away. He carries Draco's body out, and Paladin apologizes to Myra for it ending that way.
Grace picks up Paladin's guns and gives them to the gunfighter. He wonders what the true miracle was: Paladin giving up his guns, Draco walking, or Draco dying? Paladin merely says that they might all have been miracles or none of them, and leaves the decision to Grace... and to St. Elmo. He nods to Brock and Myra and leaves, and Grace begins the service as Paladin rides out of town.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 8, 2017