At the Carlton, Paladin is saying goodbye with one woman. Another woman slaps him, and says that she loved Paladin. Paladin tells her that she lied to him and tells her to go back to his fiancée, and reluctantly says that he's sure. Once the woman leaves, Paladin sits down to read the newspaper. There's an article about James Bryson, a cattle rancher, was found robbed and murdered by Benjamin Coey. Bryson's wife was assaulted and is recovering. Coey has killed two members of the posse after him, and the wife's brothers Joseph and Will are with the posse.
Paladin rides to the town to take on the job from Will for $500. Soon he and a guide, John Wildhorse, are following Coey. They're caught in a storm and Wildhorse refuses to rid eon any further. Paladin pays him his full fee and Wildhorse advises him to kill Coey because he's killed three men, but Paladin says that Will has paid him $1,000 if he brings in Coey alive. The guide rides off and Paladin finds Coey sleeping. Paladin captures Coey at gunpoint and easily subdues him when he tries to attack him. Coey insists that he didn't kill Bryson because he wouldn't do that to Bryson's wife, but Paladin manacles him to his saddle. When Coey warns that the Gage brothers will shoot him on sight, Paladin tells him that he'll get his trial.
Paladin takes Coey to the Wildhorse station and Wildhorse says that the county seat is 60 miles away. He tells Paladin that it will all be over in a couple of days, and advises Paladin to let Joe finish Coey off. Wildhorse refuses to help Paladin further and says that the stage will arrive when the storm stops. Paladin takes Coey to the station house and Wildhorse tells his wife that Coey is the one. Coey insists that he didn't do it, but Wildhorse says that he's the one who found the wife after Coey left. He tells Paladin to lock Coey up in a room, and tells Paladin that Joe knows Coey is there and that Paladin shouldn't fight him.
In the room, Paladin manacles Coey to the bed. Coey figures that they'll hang him even though he never saw the wife. He points out that they never saw the man who killed Bryson, only the wife saw the killer. Paladin points out that the wife will testify Coey killed his wife, and Coey figures that they'll believe her. The gunfighter gets Coey some food, and sees Will ride up. Coey says that Joe's the one that's going to kill him.
The next morning, Paladin goes to get Coey some breakfast. Coey asks to eat outside and Paladin advises him to stay as far away from Wildhorse and Will as possible. Undeterred, Coey asks to eat at a table like a human being, and Paladin reluctantly releases him. Once Paladin goes outside, Coey bars the door and breaks out through the window. Paladin tells Wildhorse to stay out of it and asks where Will is.
Coey runs out to the barn and Will draws on him. When Coey says that he didn't kill Bryson, Will prepares to shoot. Paladin runs in and knocks Will down, grabs the gun, and orders Coey out of the stall where he's hiding. He tells Will that he'll kill him if he draws on Coey again, and takes Coey back to the station.
Back in the room, Coey insists that he's an innocent man. He admits that he can't read, and says that Joe won't stop halfway. Paladin says that he won't either and will make sure Coey gets his day in court. Coey figures that Paladin will back away eventually when he figures that it isn't worth the trouble of dying for him. He asks for whiskey and Paladin leaves to get it. Coey struggles with his manacles, and Paladin comes back and tells him that he'll get the whiskey. Will is cleaning a revolver that Wildhorse gave him, and Paladin warns that it may cost him his life. Wildhorse's wife Crokay asks her husband why Paladin is going to die for a man like Coey, and Wildhorse agrees. Paladin points out that Coey might be innocent, and Wildhorse refuses to give him any whiskey. He suggests that Paladin let Coey die, and asks if Paladin is willing to die to get Coey his day in court. As he goes back in the room, Paladin tells Will that he won't give Coey away.
Joe rides up to the station and Paladin tells Coey that his waiting is over. Joe comes in and tells Paladin that he's never liked gunfighters. He thanks Paladin for taking Coey alive and pays him his $1,000, and Paladin says that Coey isn't for sale even when Joe offers him more. Joe tosses the money on the floor and tells Paladin to pick it up and live, and Paladin says that he'll kill Will first and he'll pick up the money in the county seat after he earns it. After a moment, Joe says that he's bringing his sister there and if she identifies Coey as her husband's killer, he'll use it a shotgun on Paladin.
When Mrs. Bryson arrives, Paladin unmanacles Coey and asks if he did it. Coey warns that Paladin can't beat both Gages and should just hand him over. Joe and Will bring their sister in, and Paladin asks Joe for his gun. Once Joe hands it over, Paladin lets Joe and Mrs. Bryson in to Coey's room. She stares at Coey, and Coey greets her. Mrs. Bryson breaks into tears, and Paladin slaps Coey and then tells Joe that he'll take Coey in when the storm ends.
As the storm winds down, Paladin prepares to transport Coey. Wildhorse says that he gave his shotgun to Joe, and tells Paladin that he's a fool. Paladin asks if Wildhorse is going to participate or just watch, and Wildhorse says that it's not his party so he'll just watch.
Paladin shoves Coey out into the main room and says that he'll go first but will kill Coey if he tries to run. The gunfighter draws his gun, goes out, and orders Coey after him. Joe and Will are in the barn and come out, and tell Paladin that Coey isn't worth the trouble. Joe insists that he'll kill Coey with his bare hands and offers Paladin his remaining $1,000 to walk away. Paladin refuses, and Joe tries to shoot him. The gunfighter kills Joe and hits Will in the leg. Wildhorse comes out and asks Paladin if justice was worth it all. Paladin says that if he didn't think that, he wouldn't have done it.
Written by Gadfly on Jun 24, 2018