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The Fifth Man Recap

At the Carlton, Paladin joins the bartender and a whiskey drummer to sample four whiskey glasses. He identifies the location each one was made going by taste. The drummer offers Paladin a case of his finest and leaves, and Hey Boy brings Paladin his mail and newspaper. There's an article about Bert Talman in Yucca Bend, a murderous gunman who killed four men after escaping jail.

After getting a response to his card, Paladin rides to Yucca Bend and a teacher, Abbott, tries to enter the saloon. A local thug, Tom Bland, shoves Abbott back and says that he figures Abbott was going to shoot his mouth off about Merle Corvin. When he starts to beat Abbott, Paladin stops him and tells Bland to take him to Corvin. Abbott thanks Paladin for intervening and walks away.

Inside, Paladin orders a drink and meets with Corvin. Corvin offers Paladin their agreed-upon amount to protect him from Talman. The man explains that he used to be a lawman and he hates men like Bert. Abbott watches from the door and then leaves, and Paladin spots him. Paladin asks Corvin why Bert is after him, and Corvin says that broke into the local freight office and killed the clerk for $14. He was captured, and five men including Corvin took Bert away to hang him. They had a change of heart and put him back in jail, and few days later Bert broke out, killed the sheriff, and fled. He then killed three of the five men, leaving Corvin and Bland. Paladin wonders why Bert is staying around to take revenge whether than fleeing, but Corvin says that it doesn't matter. Corvin insists that Paladin kill Bert, and Paladin says that will be up to Bert.

Outside, Abbott approaches Paladin and says that there's something he should know about Bert. He leads Paladin to the cemetery outside of town. Bert is there and hides as they approach, and Abbott shows Paladin the graves of the men that Bert has killed. There's a fifth grave for Joseph Dane, and Abbott says that there were two notches in the cross the day before, and now there are four. The teacher explains that he's the conscience of Yucca Bend, and Dane was kicked to death by a horse the night of the jail break. Dane was terrified of horses, and Abbott explains that he was going to confront Corvin when Bland stops him. Paladin tells him that he has no choice, and the two men ride back into town.

That night, Abbott enters the saloon with Paladin and Abbott says that a horse was taken from the livery sable the night of the jail break. He wonders what Bert did the night of the jail break, and Paladin asks what made the lynch mob change their mind. Abbott says that Dane stopped them from lynching Bert, and Bland attacks Abbott. Paladin easily knocks him out and tells Abbott to go home, then says that when someone pushes him to kill a man, he wants to know the truth. However, he says that he has no doubts about Bert.

As they drink, Bert shoots through the window, killing Bland. Paladin and Corvin run out and Paladin wounds Bert as he rides away. Corvin and Paladin ride after him into the hills. The next day, Paladin finds Bert's fresh blood and figures that they're closing in. Corvin wants to press on, but Paladin figures that Bert will take shelter and there's plenty of cover. Despite Paladin's warning, Corvin insists on going first and Bert shoots at him. Corvin rides back to Paladin and agrees to do it his way, and the two men ride on.

Soon, Paladin and Corvin come to Bert's horse, standing alone in a box canyon. They check it out and find blood on the saddle, and Paladin figures that it's a trap. He spots Bert's vantage point and calls to the man, who shoots at him. Paladin tells Corvin that they should make themselves comfortable until it's dark. Corvin insists that Paladin should go up right away, and finally admits that he was a guard at Yuma Prison. Unimpressed, Paladin says that he's going to wait until dark and Corvin is welcome to go up on his own.

Corvin waits until dark and the two men make camp. Paladin says that he won't kill Bert no matter what Corvin wants, and Corvin insists that Bert has had his trial. Moving through the canyon, Paladin moves up the hill and calls to Bert. He warns that Paladin has lost a lot of blood. When Paladin says that Corvin wants him to kill Bert, Bert opens fire and misses. Paladin asks about Dane, and Bert tosses his gun down.

A few minutes later, Paladin brings the wounded Bert to the camp, and Corvin tells Paladin to get out of the way so he can shoot Bert. Paladin asks Corvin if he's afraid Bert will tell him how Corvin will kill him. He explains that he already talked to Bert, and Bert told him that Dane broke up the lynch mob so alter they beat him to death. Bert set out to avenge the one man who ever did him a kindness, and notched the cross rather than a gun.

Corvin runs off and Paladin goes after him, yelling that running won't do any good. The former guard keeps running, while the dying Bert crawls to Corvin's discarded gun. Meanwhile, Corvin yells at Paladin that he can't prove anything. He doubles back and Bert shoots him dead. Paladin returns and tells Bert that Corvin is dead and they would have hanged him. Bert says that he had to be sure and dies.

Written by Gadfly on Jul 15, 2018

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