Paladin goes to the shop of his favorite tailor, Polo De Marco, and
Polo's nephew Gino informs him that his uncle is dead. Gino explains
that Polo died in a mining accident while inspecting the Grail, a mine
that he owned, and that Polo's daughter Angela will lose the shop the
creditors. The mine is losing money and Polo spent most of his money
trying to keep it in business. Gino tells Paladin that Casey Bryan, the
mine's foreman, has offered Angela $20,000 for the mine on behalf of a
group of investors. Angela arrives and Gino introduces her to her
father's favorite customer, and Paladin advises her not to sell the mine
too quickly. When he suggests that Polo's death should be investigated,
Angela wonders what there is to investigate and Paladin asks a week to
check out the circumstances behind Polo's death. When Angela wonders
what he plans to do, Paladin gives her his card.
Later, Paladin rides to the grail mine and an armed man, The Jockey, greets him with a rifle at the ready. Jockey wonders why Paladin is there, and Paladin offers him a cigar. The guard accepts and lights the cigar, and Paladin points out that he could have shot him while he was lighting. Jockey tells him that no one draws on him, and Paladin explains that he's there looking for work at the mine. The hired gun tells Paladin that there's no work at the Grail because miners are lining up to work there, and that he should check out the Blue Eagle. As Paladin rides off, Casey comes out and asks Jockey what Paladin wanted.
Later in the nearby town, several miners from the Blue Eagle have gathered. Their leader, Morgan, is planning to ambush Jockey and tells his miners not to let the man get the chance to draw. Paladin steps out of the shadows and approaches them, and they almost shoot him. He tells them that he's looking for work and wanted to talk to Casey, and Morgan tells him to check out the saloons because Grail men are the only ones who can afford to drink. Morgan tells him that there'll be a vacancy at the Grail the next day, and Paladin goes into the saloon.
Jockey comes out with a saloon girl, Hannah, and Morgan steps out on to the street and calls him out. When Morgan says that Hannah is his, Jockey has Hannah show him the diamond ring that he gave her to buy her affections. Morgan's fellow miners step out onto the street to threaten Jockey, but Paladin emerges from the saloon and stands side-by-side with Jockey. Morgan tells Paladin that it's none of his business but Paladin insists. He and Jockey draw simultaneously before any of the miners can go for their guns. Morgan finally walks away and Jockey admits that Paladin is a good draw. However, he figures that he shaded Paladin just a little. He's grateful for Paladin's help and tells Paladin that the job is there for him at the Grail if he wants it.
The next morning, Paladin arrives at the Grail and Jockey tells Casey to hire him. Much to Paladin's surprise, Angela is there with Casey. She almost says something about Paladin's presence but stays silent. Paladin goes into the mines and starts working, and notices the roof creaking. He stops another miner, Reed, from setting off a dynamite charge and Casey overhears them talking. Casey inspects the roof and agrees with Paladin, and asks where he's from. Paladin gives him the names of some mines and claims that he's worked there, and mentions that rumors have it that Polo didn't know his way around the mines. Casey looks at him suspiciously and insists that Polo's death was an accident.
As Paladin continues working, he notices that the other miners are pocketing the gold ore. When they leave for the day, Casey casually asks them if they have any gold but doesn't bother to search them. When it's Paladin's turn, Casey doesn't bother checking him as well. Paladin saunters over to Jockey and the two men share a light.
Later, Paladin goes to see Angela at her hotel room and she explains that Casey gave her another offer for more money from the investors. Paladin accurately predicts that they offered it on condition that she decide immediately, once they learned she wanted to wait. He then tells Angela that Casey and the miners are high graders. They're stealing the high-grade ore and putting the poor-quality material in the mine carts. Angela says that Casey inspects the men but Paladin tells her that the foreman isn't bothering and advises her not to trust Casey. Angela insists that Paladin back his accusations with proof and Paladin lets it go. However, he reminds her that she gave him a week to investigate Polo's death before he leaves.
Casey finds Jockey as he's going into a saloon and tells him that Paladin hasn't paid his "employment fee." The foreman has also watched Paladin and seen him visiting Angela. Both men figure that Paladin is a company spy and Jockey says that he'll take care of Paladin. He asks Paladin for his $25 employment fee, and Paladin hands it over. Several Grail miners step out and Paladin wonders if they're going to gang up on him. Jockey says that they're just there to testify that Paladin drew on him and he killed him in self-defense. Realizing he has no choice, Paladin steps back and the two men draw. Jockey is faster but Paladin is more accurate, killing his opponent. The miners quietly take Jockey's body away and Paladin tells them he'll see them the next day.
Casey visits Angela and tries to convince her to take his investors' deal. She wonders why they want the Grail if it's a bad investment, and Casey tells her that they can turn it around but it will take new equipment and professional management. Paladin comes in, having overheard the conversation, and tells Angela that the 430,000 represents two months' high-grade ore out of the Grail. There are no investors, and Casey is using the money that he's stolen from the mine to buy it outright from Angela. The miners pay $25 for the opportunity to pick up as much gold as they can carry out. Casey objects, insisting that there are no easy riches in the mine, and offers to show Angela the mine and prove what he's saying is true. Angela agrees but Paladin warns her that Polo probably received the same invitation. Disgusted, he tells Angela that he's quitting since she won't listen to him.
The next day, Casey escorts Angela through the mine. She notices some gold streaks on the walls but Casey dismisses them as fool's gold. He then secretly tells Reed to prepare some dynamite, and then grabs a shovel and prepares to kill Angela. Paladin steps out from behind a mine cart, grabs a shovel of his own, and knocks Casey out. Reed lights the dynamite and Paladin realizes that they have only seconds remaining. He throws Angela into the mine cart, gets in behind her, and shoves the cart down the tracks to the entrance. When the miners try to stop them, Paladin shouts out that the dynamite is about to explode. Everyone gets out just in time as the dynamite goes off, bringing down the mine on Casey.
Later back in San Francisco, Paladin escorts Angela back to the shop. Governor William Irwin is getting a suit fitted and Paladin introduces his friend to Angela. Irwin congratulates Angela on her success in the mining business, and she admits that she owes it all to Paladin. When the governor wonders what Paladin is charging, Angela says that he's simply taking two suits a year for life. Paladin tells them that it should pay off because he plans to live a long life.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 30, 2017