At the Carlton, Hey Boy brings Paladin the paper. He finds an article about Thomas Ordey, a half-breed Comanche Indian in New Mexico who went berserk after he was served with a notice for he was evicted for squatting. John Dundee, a former Texas Ranger and Indian fighter, has sworn that he'll bring Ordey in. Paladin sends his card and waits for a response.
Later, Paladin rides to New Mexico in winter and Dundee greets him at his hunting lodge. Dundee explains that he built the lodge for his wife and now she's dead. He says that Ordey is in the mountains and the lodge is closer than his ranch so he's staying there. Once Paladin takes care of his horse, he and Dundee enjoy dinner and cigars. Dundee has heard that Paladin is a good man and says that he'll need a good man behind him. He insists that the land is his but concedes that Ordey did what he had to. Jose rides up in response to Dundee's summons, but refuses to come inside. When Dundee prepares to hit him, Paladin pulls him away. Dundee explains that Jose is the best tracker he knows, but Jose and Ordey are friends. Jose promises to take Dundee to Ordey but warns that it'll be a long journey.
Later, Paladin finds Mrs. Ordey outside. Dundee's man Frank Tanner has brought her, and Dundee insists that she's coming with them. Tanner offers to take her back home, but Dundee tells him to take Mrs. Ordey upstairs until they're ready to go.
The next morning, the party rides into the mountains after Ordey. They reach a point where the horses can't go any further, and Dundee says that they'll camp there and proceed on foot the next morning. He tells Tanner to scout ahead, and insists that Jose stay with him. The next morning, Paladin and Jose enjoy cigars and Jose points out that Tanner hasn't returned. Dundee comes over and asks to see Paladin's gun. Paladin obliges and Dundee says that it's a fine weapon. As Mrs. Ordey comes out, they hear a pistol shot a few miles away. Dundee insists that Mrs. Ordey come with them to investigate.
Tanner is lying by a campfire with a broken leg. He says that he took a fall, and that Ordey was there. Dundee tells Mrs. Ordey to say nearby, and Tanner explains that Ordey splinted his leg and made the fire. Tanner points out that Ordey could have killed him, and Paladin wonders what kind of man they're dealing with. Dundee tells Tanner to wait, and Paladin offers to take him back. They hear what sounds like a blue finch, and Mrs. Ordey runs to it. When Paladin tries to go after them, Jose grabs him. They struggle and Jose tells him to let Mrs. Ordey go.
In the forest, Dundee grabs Mrs. Ordey. Ordey steps out on the ridge above and wounds Dundee in the shoulder. As Paladin arrives, Ordey calls to him, telling him to stay with Tanner, and walks off. The go back for Tanner and Dundee says that they should go after Ordey. Paladin points out that his arm needs caring, but Dundee just glares at Mrs. Ordey and then repeats himself. Tanner thanks Paladin for his help, and Paladin and Jose go with Dundee and Mrs. Ordey.
The party continues on foot and Mrs. Ordey tells Paladin that Dundee's wife was killed by Comanche. She was kidnapped by the Utes and her husband killed three men to get her. Dundee came and his men insulted Mrs. Ordey, and Ordey killed them. Jose asks Paladin for another cigar, and says that he'll remember him in his prayers. Dundee overhears Mrs. Ordey's explanation, and promises Paladin that she won't be hurt. Paladin says that Mrs. Ordey wasn't part of their bargain, and Mrs. Ordey says that she has to do it. Dundee tells him that the half-breed is a murder, and Paladin points out that Ordey didn't kill his wife. The rancher says that the two men died because they stood with Dundee, and he plans to make him get justice. Paladin tells him that if Mrs. Ordey is hurt then he'll kill Dundee.
The party reaches the higher Montes Des Sangres, and Jose tells Dundee that he can't take him any further. Dundee tells him that he has no choice, and Paladin warns that no one has ever crossed the Montes Des Sangres. Undeterred, Dundee tells Jose to find Ordey and tell him that their food is low and Mrs. Ordey's wife will die if they continue. Jose agrees and tells Paladin that if he's not back in a day, he should kill Dundee and find his own way back. Paladin tells Mrs. Ordey that he'll take her back, but she refuses to go. She hopes that her husband doesn't have to kill him.
That night, Paladin and Mrs. Ordey tend to Dundee's wounded shoulder. She warns that the bullet has to go out, and Dundee tells her that he's grateful for her efforts. However, he advises her not to go out of his sight. Paladin wonders what kind of man Ordey is, that he saved Tanner and wounded Dundee instead of killing him. He wonders what is driving Dundee, and Dundee says that he can't forget what the Comanche did to his wife. Mrs. Ordey tells Paladin to let Dundee do it himself, and Paladin reminds her that he's only there because she wouldn't come back with him. He warns that he'll have to stand with Dundee because Ordey is a killer, and Mrs. Ordey tells him that her husband would have respected Paladin.
The next morning, Jose comes back and says that he found Ordey and gave him the message. He relays that Ordey said that if Mrs. Ordey was hurt, Ordey would cut out Dundee's heart and show it to him. Dundee has Mrs. Ordey to sit by the fire, and she says that she won't move until after her husband kills him. He wonders where Paladin stands, and says that with him he has a choice. Paladin tells him that when he knows what is pushing Dundee, then he'll know where he stands.
The next morning, Ordey attacks the camp and stabs Dundee through the side of the lean-to, shoots Paladin through the leg. He grabs his wife and leaves, and Paladin draws aim on Ordey as he goes but refuses to shoot him. Jose binds Paladin's wound and says that he's glad that Ordey didn't kill him. Paladin gives Jose his remaining cigars and Jose helps him back to civilization. He wonders if the Ordeys will make it across the mountains, and Paladin says that there's always a first time.
Written by Gadfly on Jun 3, 2018