Paladin returns to the Carlton and Hey Boy warns him that there are
two rather irate ladies waiting for him in the lobby. He admits that he
dated both of them but didn't make any promises, but they seem to have
gotten different impressions. Hey Boy warns Paladin that the two women
have compared notes, and suggests that he read the telegram that just
arrived. Paladin reads it and discovers that it's a response from S.J.
Lovett to his inquiry of employment. Lovett is the mayor of Silver Flat,
NV and invites Paladin to come to town and find the man who killed
Sheriff Daley. Paladin figures that it's a good time to be scarce and
rides off to Silver Flat.
When Paladin rides into Silver Flat, he sees the hearse bearing Daley's body go through town. As he ties up his horse, he hears Lovett accusing lawyer Tom Nelson, of getting Daley killed. The mayor points out that Tom got the suspected killer, Ben Tyler, acquitted on a previous charge when Charlie Bristol was killed. Tom insists that Ben is innocent of Daley's murder until proven innocence, and Tom's wife Jean speaks up and insists that her husband was doing her job. Lovett points out that Daley was shot with a .36 caliber Star, the kind that Ben Tyler uses, but Tom dismisses it as circumstantial evidence. The mayor angrily accuses Tom of using lawyer tricks to get his client off, and the disgusted attorney walks off with his wife.
Paladin goes into the mayor's office and finds Lovett's man Boldt waiting. Sensing weakness, Paladin dismisses Boldt as a lackey and introduces himself to Lovett. The mayor tells Paladin that he will need to return the body to collect the reward and warns that Ben won't let himself be taken alive. Paladin demands $2,000 for his services and Lovett reluctantly agrees to pay him. He gives Paladin a deputy sheriff's badge for authority but Paladin figures that it can't be worth much if Lovett so casually hands it over. The gunslinger tosses the badge on the desk and Lovett gives him a description of the wanted man. He also tells Paladin that Ben likes to gamble and is lucky. As Paladin leaves, Lovett offers to send Boldt and his thug with him, but Paladin refuses.
Tom is working in his office when Paladin pays him a visit and asks for his help finding Ben. The lawyer refuses to help, insisting that anything he knows is privileged information, but Paladin points out that Ben isn't his client anymore. Tom wants to stay clear of the entire situation given Lovett's accusations, but Paladin points out that either Ben is a killer or he's innocent. If the former than he needs to be brought in; if the latter then he needs a lawyer. When Paladin warns that Tom will be responsible for any future murders that Ben commits, the lawyer reluctantly tells him that Ben is across the state line in Prado, UT. Paladin promises to bring Ben back alive if he can and then rides off.
In Prado, Paladin soon tracks Ben to a saloon where he's playing cards and winning. As Paladin watches, Ben pays an old woman for her entire basket of flowers so she can quit for the night. After Ben wins a big hand, Paladin tells him that he has unfinished business in Silver Flat. Once Ben makes sure the old woman is out of the way, he throws a chair at Paladin. The two men fight and Paladin soon floors Ben. Ben insists that he didn't kill Daley and has a woman in Carson City who can give him an alibi. Paladin says that he'll have to tell it to a jury and that he needs to return to Silver Flat to stand trial. Once Paladin tells him that Tom will be his defense attorney, Ben agrees to go peaceably.
When Ben and Paladin return to Silver Flat, Ben asks Paladin to take care of his horse. He then strolls into the sheriff's office and enters a cell. While Paladin locks him up, Ben explains that Lovett was feuding with Daley and that he got caught in the middle of it. Lovett plans to become state governor but Daley had evidence of rigged voting during the last mayoral election. Ben overheard the entire thing while he was in the cell after Bristol's death in a fair gunfight, and Lovett didn't realize he was there until he had already discussed the situation with Daley. Paladin admits that he isn't sure what to believe and will only commit to making sure that Tom defends Ben like he promised.
As Paladin leaves the sheriff's office, Boldt and his thug come by. Paladin locks the door and Boldt warns him that Lovett has plenty of keys, but the gunslinger advises him not to use them.
Tom is working at his desk when Paladin comes in and says that Ben wants him as his defense lawyer. The attorney refuses, insisting that he's only going to handle civil cases from now on, but a disgusted Paladin reminds him that every man deserves a fair trial. Tom says that it's a matter of principle and he won't take the case, but Paladin says that if he doesn't have the stomach for defending the guilty as well as the innocent then maybe he should quit the profession... after he defends Ben.
Paladin returns to collect his $2,000 from Lovett. As they talk, the gunslinger studies a map of the state on the wall. When Paladin asks about it, Lovett ignores him and explains that Ben's trial will take place the next morning. The circuit judge isn't available but Lovett is empowered to serve as judge in an emergency. When Paladin points out that Ben has an alibi in Carson City but it will take time to get the woman to Silver Flat, Lovett advises Paladin to forget the whole thing now that he has his money. Paladin refuses and says that he's going to take a hotel room and stay for the trial, and shoves his way out past Boldt.
When Tom returns to his office, Paladin is waiting for him. He's surprised to hear that Ben's trial is the next day, before Ben can summon his witness, but still insists that it's none of his business. Paladin tells him that the map in Lovett's office has voter counts, supporting Ben's story about the mayor's state ambitions, but Tom doesn't want to hear it. Across the street, Lovett and Boldt watch the conversation and Lovett tells Boldt to take care of Paladin.
That night, Paladin sneaks into Tom's office and confronts the man again. He warns Tom that he'll continue to hound him until he takes the case, and asks Tom what he would do if he was defending Ben. The attorney concedes that he'd get a writ for a change of venue so that Lovett wouldn't be the judge. He refuses to help, insisting that the evidence against Ben is convincing, but Paladin points out that anyone could have used a .36 Star to kill Daley and frame Ben. Tom agrees to consider the matter, but Paladin warns him that time is running out and that Lovett wants to make the whole thing go away as quickly as possible.
When Paladin goes to his hotel room, he pauses outside the door, sniffing the air. He then steps to the side and tries the knob, and Boldt fires through the wood. When he comes out, Paladin grabs his hand and knocks him to the floor. He then draws as Boldt's thug comes out of the adjoining room and sends them both on their way. As they go, Paladin advises Boldt not to smoke cigars when he's planning an ambush.
The next morning, Tom rides up to the jail and finds Boldt's thug standing guard. The man refuses to let Tom through even when the attorney reveals that he has a warrant. Paladin arrives and knocks the thug out, unlocks the door, and goes in with Tom. They release Ben but Lovett comes in with a shotgun and accuses them of helping a prisoner escape. Paladin shows him the writ and says that he's taking over since there's no duly-appointed sheriff in Silver Flat. Lovett tells them to burn the writ and Paladin figures that Lovett will kill them regardless. He tosses the writ onto the floor and tells Lovett to destroy it. When the mayor kneels to pick it up, Paladin shoves him out through the door and slams it shut. Lovett and his thug open fire but Paladin manages to kill them both. He then picks up the writ, gives it to Tom, and wishes him luck defending Ben before riding out of town.
Written by Gadfly on Mar 3, 2018