Paladin reads a newspaper about a missing dancing girl, Helen Abajinian, who has eloped with passing cowboy Jimmy O'Riley. Helens' father Samuel has offered $1,000 for her return but the local authorities have told him that Helen is of age and they have no authority. Paladin tells Hey Boy that he'll be back in two weeks and sends him to get tickets for the opera, and then sends a letter to Samuel.
After Samuel escapes, Paladin rides to Samuel's vineyard. His wife Marga says that they should move on, but Samuel refuses to give up his daughter. Paladin enters their camp and Samuel assumes that he's there to "abduct" another of his daughters. Once Paladin introduces himself, Samuel invites him in and Marga pours tea, and complains that Helen ran off with Jimmy. He claims that Jimmy entranced Helen, and insists that there must be a marriage. Samuel then starts haggling about the fee, and Paladin raises the price when he points out that Samuel said Jimmy was dangerous. They end up back at the original fee of $1,000, and the other vintners tell Paladin that he bargains like an Armenian. Samuel drinks a full glass of his finest, and Paladin matches him to the Armenians' appreciation.
Paladin rides hard for two days. Meanwhile, Helen rides up to Jimmy and insists that she loves him. He tells her that it makes him nervous when people chase him, and reluctantly agrees to help her down. Helen falls into his arms and Jimmy backs off and says that she should be ashamed of herself. She says that she used to dream of a man riding to her father's house and proclaiming his love for her. Jimmy tells her that he's not ready to get married, and Helen offers to dance for him and convince him otherwise.
Paladin rides up and explains why he's there, and Jimmy refuses to go with him. The gunfighter says that he'd rather talk over food than gun and dismounts. That night, the trio sits around the campfire. Once Helen goes to clean her dishes, Jimmy says that he doesn't feel comfortable with Helen. Paladin points out that Helen isn't a really good girl, and Jimmy takes offense. When Paladin suggests that he's in love, Jimmy takes offense and tries to punch Paladin. Paladin easily ducks the blows and knocks Jimmy unconscious. Helen comes back and Paladin tells her that Jimmy is coming back with them. Jimmy realizes that he has no choice but warns that he still isn't going to marry her.
When Paladin returns to the vineyard, Samuel pours drinks for him and Jimmy. Jimmy asks why Samuel doesn't have cattle to make money off of his land, and tells him that he was running a thousand-acre spread when he was 19. He describe the grassland that they're wasting, and calls Samuel a "nester". Samuel figures that it's an insult and doesn't want to raise cattle, and challenges Jimmy to an arm-wrestling contest. They put hot coals down on either side and Paladin explains that either side can yield without being harmed. Jimmy refuses to yield, and manages to bring Samuel's hand down on the other coal. Paladin declare it a draw, and Samuel concedes that Jimmy is a man. Jimmy agrees to marry Helen to protect her reputation, and Samuel demands that he bathe. Paladin dumps water on him and quotes poetry about women, and one vintner pours perfumed oil all over Jimmy per Armenian tradition.
That night, the Armenians hold their wedding celebration after the marriage. Jimmy tells Paladin that he's not staying there, but admits that he can't leave without saying goodbye to Helen. Paladin warns that Jimmy shouldn't see Helen dance, and Jimmy tells him that he'll be so busy with the food that he won't know Helen is dancing. He settles down and admits that the food is good, and complains to Paladin that men don't want women who chase them. Jimmy insists that he doesn't feel comfortable with Helen and prepares to go, and Helen comes out and dances for him.
Samuel comes over and points out that Jimmy has started to leave three times since the wedding. Paladin talks about the traditional dowry, and loudly haggles. Samuel finally gives in and turns to Jimmy for support, but he's struck with Helen's beauty. The vintners take Jimmy to his bride but he insists on walking on his own. Samuel hopes that boys run in Jimmy's blood, and Paladin points out that Jimmy's parents had five sons. They drink to the new couple giving Samuel a grandson.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 17, 2017