At the Carleton, Paladin is relaxing in the lobby and a man, Sid Morgan, sits down nearby. Someone fires at Sid through the window and Paladin gets him down. The shooter slips away and paladin offers Sid his card. They talk and Sid explains that Danbury and his combine want to buy his railroad interest. It's the third attempt on Sid's life, and Paladin points out that they've failed and might be trying to fail Sid. Sid says that he and his fiancée Stacy Neal are leaving for Silver City in the morning, and offers to pay Paladin $1,000 to make sure they get there alive.
The next day, the trio rides out and stops at a spring in the desert. Sid watches as Paladin helps Stacy over, and warns Paladin that Stacy likes to play games because she thinks it makes him jealous. Paladin spots a horseman in the distance and says that they should move on immediately.
The horseman continues following them for a while and then rides off. Paladin tells Sid and Stacy to go ahead into the nearby town, Rough and Ready, and rides off after the horseman. He catches up to him and demands answers, and the horseman, Howard Gorman, finally gives his name. Paladin recognizes him as a gunfighter, and Howard says that he might consider asking Paladin to his tally. Howard refuses to say why he's following them and rides off.
That night in Rough and Ready, Paladin, Sid, and Stacy eat at the local hotel. Sid figures that Danbury hired Howard, and Paladin assures Sid that he's safe. A man, Shawcross, comes in and Sid apparently recognizes him. He tells Paladin that he probably works for the combine, and Shawcross down with Howard at a nearby table. Howard comes over and challenges Paladin to a gunfight. Paladin has Sid and Stacy move away, and Paladin finally gets up to face Howard. They draw and Paladin kills Howard. Paladin grabs Shawcross and demands answers, and Shawcross says that Danbury has changed his mind about buying Sid out. He tried to tell Howard, even offering him to pay him for the inconvenience, but Howard refused. Once Shawcross leaves, Stacy flirts with Paladin. Sid orders her to her room, and Stacy suggests that he's going to try getting out of paying Paladin his fee. Her fiancé tells her to shut up or he'll throw her back where he found her. Stacy tells paladin that it's too bad he can't use his head as well as he uses his gun and goes upstairs.
Sid gives Paladin his fee and says that the danger is over. Paladin points out that Howard wouldn't have missed the shot in San Francisco unless he had some reason for missing. Sid wishes Paladin a goodnight and walks away.
Later, a dishevel Stacy comes downstairs and orders a whiskey from the bar. Paladin joins her and she says that she's leaving Sid to look for someone rich enough to marry. She tells Paladin that she likes him and says that Sid lied when he said he'd never seen Shawcross before. Stacy explains that Shawcross is Sid's business partner, and Howard was a hired gun and Shawcross paid him to kill Paladin. She says that the whole thing was a bet and she thought it would be exciting, Paladin goes to face Sid, and Stacy warns him that they didn't break the law and they've been doing similar thing for years.
Sid comes down and tells Paladin that he was well-paid and has no complaint. Disgusted, Paladin tells Sid to draw his gun. Sid refuses and Paladin slams him on a table, slaps him, and repeats his order. The millionaire says that Paladin will have to kill him in cold blood, tells Stacy to follow him, and goes upstairs. Stacy tells Paladin that nothing will leave Sid whether she stays with him or not, and goes after Sid.
The next morning, the clerk tells Paladin that Sid, Shawcross, and Stacy all left together. Paladin rides after them and finds Stacy lying on the ground in the desert. He gives her some water to revive her, and they ride on. They spot Sid and Shawcross in their wagon, and Paladin steps out and orders them to stop. When they do, Paladin calls Stacy out and has Sid give her his billfold. Paladin then tells Stacy to use the money to go back to town and take a stagecoach to wherever she wants.
Paladin has Sid and Shawcross ride out into the desert, then tells them to walk the 30 miles to Silver City. He gives them water and tells them that he made a bet with himself whether they could make it. Once they get off the buckboard. Paladin rides off but then turns and watches them. Sid and Shawcross notice but have no choice but to start walking. Paladin follows them and Sid tells Shawcross that they'll jump him once they get a chance.
Shawcross begs Sid for one swallow of water. Sid hands the canteen over and Shawcross drinks it all. Disgusted, Sid walks off, dropping the canteen on the ground. Buzzards circle over the two men and Paladin tosses them a canteen, saying there's no sense in both of them dying. The two men fight over the canteen. When Shawcross grabs it, Sid shoots him dead. Paladin comes over and tells Sid that he's taking him back for murder. Sid threatens to shoot him, and Paladin shoots the canteen out of Sid's hand. Sid has no choice but to load Shawcross' body on the buckboard.
Written by Gadfly on May 6, 2018