In the lobby of the Carleton, Robert Ceibeau greets Paladin and invites him to lunch at the Stockton House. As they go the restaurant, two men attempt to rob them. Paladin easily subdues them. Robert's jacket is lining, but he tells Paladin that it's nothing. After lunch, Robert asks to see Paladin's card. He reveals that he's collected similar cards from Paladin's previous clients, and says that he wants to hire Paladin to try and save a man's life: his father, William. Robert explains that Hotan Eaton, the youngest war chief of the Shoshone Commanches, intends to kill William. He says that he'll pay Paladin $2,000 to save William's life, and warns that someone may attempts to talk Paladin out of it.
Later, Paladin goes to William's cabin. William gets the drop on him and orders him inside. Paladin explains that Robert hired him, and William explains that he paid for Robert's education but it didn't take. He says that Paladin doesn't know who he really is, and Paladin remembers that "Ceibeau" is French for "blue skies". Paladin realizes that William is really Billy Blue Sky, a former scout for the Army. William insists that Robert would never have hired Paladin to protect him. A flaming arrow comes through, and Paladin and William take cover as William says that the Stockton House doesn't serve Indians. Outside, Robert lurks in the shadows.
William admits that Robert is his son, and Paladin asks why Robert hired him to protect William from Robert. When Paladin offers to go out and talk to Robert, William goes out to shoot Robert and trips. Another flaming arrow hits the post overhead, and William hesitates to shoot Robert. Paladin puts out the arrow as William lowers his gun, and yells to Robert that he wants to parley. Robert agrees and approaches the cabin, and Williams stares at Robert and then goes inside. The Indian explains that Robert is "dead", and Paladin says that he's dying but not dead. Paladin realizes that Robert is schizophrenic, and Robert says that his mother died in a raid that William led. He tells Paladin that the deal is over, but Paladin refuses to let anyone but Robert end the deal. Paladin challenges Robert to a duel to the death at dawn with knives, per Comanche custom, and Robert agrees.
Back inside the cabin, Paladin tells William to tell him about Hotan. William explains that he gave Robert everything a white man could want, but Robert's mother raised him first and raised Robert in Indian ways. Robert wounded him at the village of Ashiwara, where William led the raid. William insists that he didn't shoot his Indian wife deliberately, but admits that he might have. Paladin removes his shirt and rubs suet on himself, and William says that there'd be no one to help him no matter where he went. He tells Paladin that Robert can go anywhere, wild or civilized, and warns that Paladin helping him won't make him popular. William warns Paladin that he doesn't know his son, but Paladin says that Robert is two people and it's a madness that will never give him any peace. The former scout tells Paladin not to go out, and Paladin says that he won't if he gets the right answer to questions. First Paladin asks if there's any chance that Robert won't kill William. William says that there isn't, and Paladin's second question is if William would kill his son. The older man says that he can't, and asks Paladin if he'll kill Robert. Paladin says that Robert won't give him a choice, and Robert wants to die.
Paladin goes out and hides in the woods. Robert approaches the cabin when William comes out, and Paladin calls to Robert and draws him away. The two men fight and finally Robert runs, and Paladin goes after him. Gasping, Paladin collapses and Robert gets to higher ground and tells Paladin to kill him. He jumps, and falls on Paladin's knife. Dying, Robert thanks Paladin for letting him die a Comanche. Paladin tells him that he always was, and says that it was no one's fault but his own. Robert quotes Don Quixote's epitaph from Cervantes and dies. Disgusted, Paladin tosses away his knife.
Back at the cabin, Paladin tells William that Robert is dead. William figures that he's safe from his fellow men as long as he stays away from them. Paladin puts on his shirt and says that he liked Robert, and there was only one of them no matter which William did. He says that he buried Robert and William can bury himself, and leaves.
Written by Gadfly on May 27, 2018