At the Carleton, Paladin returns from a trip and tells Hey Boy that he's poor. He sees an advertising board for Oscar Wilde's lecture, marked "sold out". Paladin says that he's rather consider the possibility of getting a job than attending the lecture. Sitting down to read the paper, Paladin sees an article about the train bridges being washed out, and Colonel J.L. Carrington, President of the Civic Cultural Society of San Diego, has chartered a special coach to bring Oscar to San Francisco ranscico on time. The gunfighter has Hey Boy send his card to Carrington.
Later, Paladin arrives at the Society and the secretary has him take a seat to wait for Carrington. Two other gunmen are present, and he offers a cigar to them. They both refuse and Paladin confirms that they're also there as bodyguards. Carrington comes out with another gunman, Jim Rook, and Jim says that he'll wait with his two men. The society president ushers Paladin into his office and explains that they can't afford for anything to happen to Oscar. Paladin states his fee and Carrington points out that he can hire the other three gunmen for half that price. Paladin goes out to the lobby, tells the gunmen that the secretary is Oscar, and invites them to protect them. He outdraws all three of them and when one of them grabs his revolver, he draws his derringer. Jim accuses Paladin of showboating, and Paladin says that it's salesmanship. Carrington agrees to hire Paladin and writes him a letter of introduction to Oscar. Jim tells Paladin that there will be another time and leaves with his two men.
As Paladin leaves, Jim is waiting and tells Paladin that he's not letting Paladin steal his job. The other two men cold-cock him from behind and take the letter. They dump Paladin off the dock, and a fisherman rescues Paladin. Paladin pays the old man for his services and rides off, and finds an unconscious stage driver on the ground. The coach is overturned, and the driver confirms that Jim showed up with the letter and claimed that he was Oscar's bodyguard. Paladin pays the driver ten gold coins to help him keep watch for anyone coming figuring that Jim will eventually ask for ransom.
That late night, a man rides by. Paladin chases him and soon knocks him off his horse. He takes a letter of ransom, addressed to Carrington, from the man, Carpenter. Carpenter says that a man in a saloon hired him to deliver the note, and the driver arrives and confirms Carpenter's identity. The letter specifies that Carrington should come to Devil's Rock with $50,000 Paladin tells Carpenter that he'll have a letter for Jim.
The three men go into the nearby town, and Paladin forges a letter from Carrington saying that he's sending a man with $50,000. He gives it to Carpenter and tells him to deliver it, and reminds him that he's a party to a kidnapping. Once Carpenter leaves, Paladin tells the driver that he'll soon have a passenger for him.
The next day, Paladin rides to Devil's Rock, and one of Jim's men, Matson, Paladin claims that Carrington sent him, and Matson makes sure he doesn't have a gun. Matson agrees to take Paladin to Oscar and blindfolds him first. They go to a cabin and Jim's brother Chris asks why Paladin is there. Matson assures him that Paladin didn't see anything, and Paladin says that he's supposed to talk to Oscar alone. Chris lets him into Oscar's room and says that Paladin isn't leaving until Jim gets back.
Paladin explains why he's there, and Oscar complains that he had to prompt them to demand his full value of $50,000. The gunman checks for a loose board, and tells Oscar that he doesn't have $50,000 and loudly conducts a conversation. Oscar says that he's amused by his own problems and hopes that Paladin will rewrite the new play's ending.
Jim comes in and asks for the money, and tells Paladin to get the money. He sends Matson to get the money from Paladin's hotel, and Jim lets Chris ride along with him as well. He tells Oscar that he does the improbable and leaves with the two men.
At the hotel room, Paladin gets a case from the wardrobe and takes a gun out. He orders them to disarm, and has Chris write out a letter quoting the Old Testament saying that one must extract an eye for an eye. He then has Matson deliver the letter.
The next day, Paladin returns to Devil's Rock with a tied-up Chris. Jim is waiting with Oscar, and Paladin tells Jim to have Oscar step over and then he'll pay the ransom. Paladin sends Chris away and Oscar comes over and confirms that Matson is in the rocks with a rifle. When Matson prepares to shoot Paladin, Paladin shoos him, take covers, and motions Oscar to toss his hat out. When Oscar does so and Jim shoots it, Paladin wings him and says that he's turning him over to the sheriff.
Later back at the Carleton, Hey Boy delivers Paladin two tickets to the lecture, compliments of Oscar. Paladin says that he's seen all that he's ever seen of Oscar, says that he's yielding to temptation,s and leaves with a woman.
Written by Gadfly on Apr 22, 2018