At the Carleton, Paladin is in his suite with another poker player, Craig Wilson. Wilson offers to write Paladin a check for his in losses, and Paladin insists on cash only. Paladin presents his card and tells Wilson to honor his losses, and Wilson says that it will take him a few days. When Paladin refuses, Wilson offers him a quarter of a treasure map and says that it's worth a quarter share of $25,000. He wants Paladin to go in his place because he doesn't trust the other three men with the remaining quarters. Paladin isn't interested, but Wilson points out that he doesn't have the money. The gunfighter demands an explanation, and Wilson says that they're his former partners and he's supposed to meet them in the Tuscaroras, and it was all Decker's idea. Wilson says that the $25,000 was stolen by road agents and they got the map from them, and then they were killed. Paladin reluctantly agrees but warns Wilson that if he's lying, Paladin will travel a long way to find him.
Paladin rides to the Tuscaroras and reaches Decker's camp. Decker and Stoneman train guns on Paladin, and he explains that Wilson is his client and gave him his quarter of the map. They deny knowing Wilson, and paladin tosses the "map" into the fire. The two men rush to grab it, and Paladin says that it's just a scrap of paper and he has the real map quarter hidden. The fourth man, Gale, rides up. When Decker snaps at him, Gale says that they're not in the barracks anymore.
The four men lay their quarters out and figure the treasure in two days away. Paladin insists on keeping his part of the map, and Decker says that it was his idea and he's top hand. Unimpressed, Paladin says that they'll follow each map separately until they get to the trail indicated on the next part.
That night, Paladin is sleeping when Stoneman tries to take his part of the map. Paladin wakes up, grabs him, and knocks him down. He wonders if Stoneman is working alone or for Decker, and tosses Stoneman's knife at the other two men.
The next day, the four men ride until they reach the end of Gale's part of the map. Decker and Stoneman ride on ahead, and Gale tells Paladin that he had a straight discharge. Decker and Stoneman just finished their hitches, and Decker divided the map into four parts. Gale explains that they had enough against Decker to put him away if he didn't give them a share of the treasure. He rides ahead to catch up to Decker and Stoneman. When Paladin mounts up and continues on, he comes to Gale's abandoned horse. Gale is nearby, dead of a broken neck. Decker and Stoneman ride up and Paladin points out that there are now only three shares of the reassure instead of four.
The three men continue on and make camp for the night. Stoneman talks about how he'll eat fancy food from now on and is going to travel. When Stoneman says that there might be more and asks Decker how much is in the payroll, Decker tells him to shut up. Paladin points out that Decker has the last part of the map and should be safe. Stoneman finished his part up the other day, and Gale died when they got to his end of the quarter. Stoneman remembers that Decker went back for a few minutes right before Gale died, and Decker points out that Stoneman was out of his sight as well. Paladin rolls over to sleep, and Stoneman goes off to sleep away from the main camp.
The next morning, Paladin and Decker discover that Stoneman is dead, stabbed with a knife. The two remaining men continue on, Decker falling behind and drawing his carbine. He tells Paladin to hand over his share of the map and then ride off, and Paladin advises him to look at the "map" first. It's blank, and Paladin laughs and rides on. They reach a cliff and dismount, and Decker knocks Paladin over the head and shoves him over the edge. He rides on, and Paladin wakes up and climbs back up. Paladin rides on and hears gunshots, and dismounts and continues on. He finds Decker, dead, outside of a cave where the money is hidden. Going in, Paladin finds Wilson recovering the money from a stolen Army wagon. Wilson says that he didn't kill Paladin, and Paladin points out that he only didn't because he thought Decker did.
Wilson says that they were sent after the men who stole the Army payroll. Decker shot them and took the money. Wilson offers Paladin all of the money, and when Paladin refuses Wilson knocks over his lamp with a bag of the money and opens fire. Paladin manages to shoot him and Wilson falls on the scattered money. Dying, he looks at the money and then passes away. Paladin checks the money and discovers that rats have made a nest of $15,000 of the money.
Later back at the Carleton, Hey Boy is cleaning up after a poker game. Paladin brings in the rat nest and says that the Army salvaged the other $10,000. He tells Hey Boy that he's going to keep it as a reminder to choose honest poker partners.
Written by Gadfly on May 13, 2018