Paladin is reading his daily newspapers at the Hotel Carlton and
wishes that the world would give him something different. A well-dressed
Englishman, James Brunswick, is staying at the hotel and asks Hey Boy
for directions to Fleetown, Montana. Paladin steps forward and invites
James to join him for brandy and cigars. James tells his new friend that
as the younger brother, the only thing he inherited was a ranch that
his father purchased in Montana, the King's Arm Ranch. James only owns a
half-share and his third cousin, Felicia Carson, runs the place. He has
never met her but figures that it's his responsibility to take over so
that she can live the life of a lady. Paladin warns James that the trip
takes three weeks and that much of it will be on horseback. The route
passes through bandit and Indian territory, and Paladin offers himself
as a guide.
In Fleetown, Felicia and her ranch hand Waddy go into town to pick up supplies. The owner of the general store, N.G. Smith, invites Waddy to sit down and have some coffee. When he does, the rigged chair gives out beneath him and N.G. and the customers share a laugh. Disgusted, Felicia tells N.G. to grow up and then helps Waddy up. Waddy looks out the window and is surprised to see James and Paladin riding up. James is wearing an Englishman's safari garb and has a dead bear slung over one of the pack horses. The local Indian tribe watches the two newcomers and one of them, Chief Harry Blackfoot, calls James "Crazy Clothes."
Felicia realizes that James is her cousin and goes out to greet him. He comments on the "savages" and Felicia explains that Chief Harry and his son, Little Horse, are peaceful. N.G. asks James about the bear he shot and then spins a tall tale about how Montana bears are as big as the grocery stores. It takes James a few minutes to work out the joke, while Paladin picks up a nail and slips behind N.G. When everyone laughs at James, Paladin jabs N.G. in the buttocks and then produces a palmed egg as if N.G. had laid it. The laughs at N.G.'s expense are even louder but the store owner isn't amused when the joke is on him.
Felicia and Waddy take James and Paladin out to the King's Arms. Once they leave, N.G. approaches Chief Harry and asks him to help him play a joke on the Englishman by leading a fake war party out to the ranch. Chief Harry agrees if N.G. will pay each of them a bottle of whiskey and the store owner agrees.
As Felicia shows James around the ranch, he tells her that he'll be taking charge. She advises him to take it easy and learn how things work. Once she leaves, James admits to Paladin that his cousin clearly doesn't think much of him. When the Englishman realizes that N.G. was testing him, Paladin explains that people out West consider everyone a fool or a coward until they prove otherwise, and James lost face. Paladin starts helping James by teaching him the differences between a riding saddle and a cowboy's working saddle.
As they talk, an arrow slams into a nearby wagon. James grabs Paladin's rifle and runs to the door. Chief Harry and his Indians are launching a fake attack, but James doesn't realize the difference. When another arrow hits the wall, James shoots and hits Chief Harry in the chest. Paladin yanks the rifle away from his friend and helps Chief Harry into the barn. Felicia arrives and realizes that the whole thing is another of N.G.'s practical jokes. Little Horse refuses to accept James' apologizes and has his warriors take Chief Harry away. Felicia, furious with James for jumping the gun, tells him that they'll go into town the next morning when the Indians cool off and apologize to them. She storms off and James admits that he messed up.
That night, Little Horse and his warriors go to the grocery store and tell N.G. what happened. N.G. tries to deflect the blame onto James and offers them a keg of whiskey as apology for his part. After a moment, the warriors take the keg and leave.
The next morning, Paladin is in the barn hitching up the horse when Felicia comes in. She tells him to take James back to San Francisco when he goes because she doesn't have the time to teach him how to survive. Paladin points out that Felicia needs a man and James needs a purpose. James comes in and Felicia tells him to let her do the talking when they get into town. The Englishman asks Paladin if he would stay until the situation is resolved, and then take him back to San Francisco so that he can catch a ship back to England. Paladin looks to Felicia but she simply agrees with her cousin.
When Felicia and the others get to Fleetown, they discover that the Indians are drunk in the streets. They go into the grocery store, leaving Waddy with the wagon, but the ranch hand panics and drives off. Inside, N.G. complains that James has set off an Indian war and Felicia slaps him. The store owner prepares to hit her back, but James intervenes. Paladin tells N.G. that he's going to inform Chief Harry that N.G. is the one to blame, but N.G. refuses, insisting the Indians will kill him if they learn the truth.
Little Horse and his warriors start firing off wild shots. A husband in the store grabs a rifle and prepares to go out after them, but Paladin stops him, warning, that it could bring down the wrath of every Indian in Montana. Little Horse yells at them to send "Crazy Clothes" out. James tells Paladin that he'll handle it and ignores Felicia's objections.
Before James can go to Chief Harry, Paladin walks over to the Indian and tells him that the soldiers will come if they kill James. As James crosses the street, Chief Harry signals to Little Horse, who charges forward and knocks James down. Paladin tells the chief that now they're even, but Little Horse attacks again. The gunfighter pulls the Indian off of his horse and tells Chief Harry to call it off. Stretching the truth a bit, Paladin says that James' odd clothing is the uniform of a brave man in a distant land. He tells Chief Harry that only a brave man like James or Harry can wear the clothing, and points out that James hasn't flinched. Impressed, Chief Harry gestures to another warrior and he rides up and rears his horse in front of James. The Englishman stands his ground and Chief Harry admits that he's brave. James steps forward to the chief and apologizes for his actions, and then collapses from his injuries.
Later, James buys a set of local clothing from N.G., and gives his clothing to Chief Harry. Harry puts them on based on Paladin's story, and N.G. bursts out laughing. Paladin knocks him down with a single punch and tells the storekeeper that he's a coward and a fool. N.G. turns to his fellow townspeople for support, but they turn away from him in disgust. James offers to pack and leave, but Felicia says that the ranch needs a man with courage and figures the experience will come later. Paladin admits that he figured he'd be going back alone all along. When James worries that he might not be worthy, Paladin assures him that he's been tested and found satisfactory, and that Montana and James will be better off with each other.
Later, Paladin returns to San Francisco and Hey Boy tells him that nothing new has happened since he left. An attractive woman new to San Francisco comes down to the lobby and Paladin, noticing her, tells hey Boy to bring some champagne.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 10, 2017