At the Carlton, a cavalry captain John is drinking at the bar and complaining about the desert camel corps the U.S. government tried to implement. Paladin says that it was a good idea but the cavalry treated the camels like horses. John says that he sold the last camel in Elkhorn, Nevada. Meanwhile, Paladin sees an article about businessman Billy-Joe Kane of Mojave has been betting for three years that no one can evade the posses that he's set around the waterholes. Anyone who can evade the posses will win the best. Paladin confirms where John's camel is and heads out.
Later, Paladin rides to Elkhorn and the prospector Jake says that he must have been crazy to buy the camel, Ezekiel. He's glad to sell it to Paladin, and warns that Billy-Joe only allows contestants one canteen of water. Paladin figures that Ezekiel can outrun any horse, and gets Ezekiel to kneel so that he can mount u up and then rides off.
Paladin arrives in Mojave and the townspeople gather to gawk at Ezekiel. One horse runs off and a townsman points out that it belonged to Billy-Joe. Paladin pays for the damages and goes to the saloon. The bartender explains that the good costs a lot because water is expensive and Billy-Joe controls the water. He won't speak against Billy-Joe for fear that Billy-Joe will cut off the water, and Paladin offers his card and says that he's handled a similar matter in another town.
Going to the bank, Paladin confirms that they received a wire from his bank that he has the funds. The local banker Elkins warns Paladin that the Mojave Chase isn't a sound investment, Elkins assures Paladin that the chase is run honestly, and says that Billy-Joe got hold of an old land sale law that people had forgotten. Soon he owned all of their water. Paladin asks if a dollar a gallon is moral, and if the chase is profitable. Elkins points out that the Army found the camel unsuitable, but Paladin asks for $5,000.
Billy-Joe and his gunman Dever looking at the camel. An old timer is tending to it, and tells Billy-Joe how much water it's taking. Dever gets ready to punch the old timer, but Billy-Joe stops him and tells the old timer to spread the word that he'll pay for information about Paladin or Ezekiel. Paladin has watched the whole exchange from his nearby hotel room.
Later at the saloon, the bartender tells Paladin that he's talked to some people and they agree as long as there's no killing. Paladin quotes him a price, and Billy-Joe comes in and introduces himself. When Paladin treats him abruptly, Dever takes offense but Billy-Joe holds him back. Paladin tosses out the $5,000 and demands 5 to 1 odds. When Billy-Joe refuses, Paladin tells Elkins that he won't need the money. The old timer brings in a man with a book, and Elkins points out that Billy-Joe doesn't have $25,000. Paladin wonders what Billy-Joe will do when he's pushed, and Billy-Joe says that he'll offer $10,000 and give him the other $15,000 in water rights. Elkins warns against it, but Billy-Joe tells Paladin to shake and he does so.
Once Elkins brings the $10,000 and the water rights paperwork, Billy-Joe prepares to sign. Dever gets the book and brings it in, and tells Billy-Joe that he'd better see it. Billy-Joe has Elkins read the book's information about the camel, including the fact that it can travel 150 miles in 11 hours. Dever figures that it's a crooked deal, but Paladin insists that he hasn't misrepresented anything. The gunman draws a gun on Paladin and takes his revolver, and Billy-Joe says that Paladin forfeited the money. As they go, Paladin draws his derringer on Billy-Joe and says that the Chase is on but he'd holding the stakes. He rides off on the camel and the old timer yells that he forgot his water. Billy-Joe and his posse ride off after Paladin.
The next day, Paladin rides across the desert in the broiling heat. He spots water up ahead and digs a hole, but the posse opens fires and Paladin is forced to ride on. Later, Paladin cuts open a cactus for the juicy pulp. Recovering, he continues on until nightfall, and then doubles back to where the posse has made camp. Paladin dumps out their water and they wake up when he drives off their horses.
Later, Paladin reaches a water hole and fires a warning shot at them and tells them to stop. He tosses them a canteen but then shoots a hole in it. Paladin tells Billy-Joe to beg on his knees, but Billy-Joe refuses. He does forfeit the chase and says that he'll sign the paper, and figures that he worked land before and can do it again. Billy-Joe comes up to sign the water rights over, and Paladin lets him. Once Billy-Joe does, Paladin lets the posse drink. When Dever goes for his gun, Billy-Joe steps on his hand and hands it over to Paladin. Paladin hands it over, and tells Billy-Joe that the town now owns the water rights. He concedes that Billy-Joe is a poor winner but an excellent loser, and says that he'll give Ezekiel to the town as a living monument to the day they got their water rights back.
Written by Gadfly on Nov 5, 2017