Paladin rides across the Mexican desert and comes to a boy buried up to his head in the sand. An anthill is nearby, and as Paladin starts digging the boy free, a rancher rides up and orders Paladin at gunpoint to move on. He says that neither he nor the boy need help, and uses his shovel to rancher when he doesn't yield. Paladin then orders the rancher to start digging. Luis does so, but then throws dirt in Paladin's face, leaps on his horse, and rides off.
Once Paladin has freed the boy, Doroteo, Doroteo asks him for a cigar. Paladin asks why he was buried, and Poncho insists that he's a man and Paladin should ever forget it. Doroteo grabs his gun, says that he must borrow it, and demands Paladin's gun belt. Paladin obliges and Doroteo says that he has business with the man who put him there. He refuses to let the law handle it, insisting that he's a man, and tells Paladin that he can walk to the closest hacienda. Doroteo rides off on Paladin's horse, and Paladin starts walking.
Eventually Paladin comes to the hacienda. He knocks on the gate and Don Luis Ortega has his men let him in. Paladin has come in response to Luis' request, and explains what happened. The rancher comes out and laughs, and says that Doroteo is a ruthless killer. Luis explains that Doroteo was there on his orders. When Paladin wonders what Doroteo did, Luis' daughter Soledad comes out. She laughs and confirms that Paladin is there to take her to the U.S. The rancher figures that Paladin is in Doroteo's pay, and Paladin says that he's leaving. Soledad asks if he wants to take her to the U.S., and Luis orders her to her room. He concedes that it may be her fault as well as Doroteo's, but they are war with the peons and they revere Doroteo as their leader. Luis wishes that Paladin had let Doroteo buried, and has the rancher take Paladin to his room.
That night, Doroteo enters the hacienda compound and distracts the rancher so that another can kill him from behind. He calls to Paladin, thanking him, leaves his gun and horse, and departs. Luis warns that the guards will not stop Doroteo, and he won't let the peons drive him off. He asks Paladin to take Soledad with him, and Paladin agrees.
Paladin and Soledad mount up with Soledad disguised as a boy, and Soledad tells Paladin to shoot himself rather than let Doroteo kill him for his own amusement. She assures Paladin that Doroteo won't harm her, and Luis says that he'll meet her when he can.
The next day, the peons surround Paladin and Soledad. Doroteo comes over and says that he wants to celebrate what Paladin did for him with a party that night. Paladin points out that Soledad is in a hurry, and Doroteo says that she looks familiar and insists that they camp there tonight. When Soledad doesn't dismount, Paladin warns that he'll draw on Pancho rather than let him take Soledad. Pancho says that he grants Paladin his life in return for saving him earlier, and now they are even when he walks off.
Paladin and Soledad camp and Soledad says that Doroteo used to admire her from a distance. She insists that Doroteo belonged to Luis and she had the right to amuse herself with him. Paladin says that she's the one who made Doroteo unsatisfied, even though she insists that the peons are happy.
Soledad and Paladin ride on, following a stream. When they stop for water, Soledad says that she would herself rather than let Paladin touch her. Offended, Soledad calls Paladin cold-blooded and dismisses him as having the heart of a sick rabbit. Paladin tells her that it's a pity that she would kill herself if he touched him, and Soledad calls him a gringo pig and storms off.
The two continue on, and Doroteo and his men ambush them. He knows who Soledad is, takes off her hat, and says that they will celebrate until the pries comes to marry him and Soledad. As his men drink, Doroteo says that he is proud to be an outlaw. Soledad asks where his women are, and Doroteo says that they have villages and families. Paladin tells him that he's taking revenge on Luis through Soledad, and Doroteo insists that Soledad loves him. He kisses her, and Paladin says that it's one big adventure to Soledad. Eventually she will grow tired of the life of an outlaw's mother. Paladin asks if Doroteo will have her kill her father. Soledad doesn't believe it, and Paladin tells Doroteo to tell her the truth. Doroteo insists that Luis is his enemy and shows her the scars on his back from when Luis had him whipped.
Soledad tells Doroteo if they get married then he will no longer be a peon. Doroteo says that Luis will always see him as a peon, and he will let Luis leave if he can erase the scars from his back. Paladin grabs a nearby guard on his horse, throws him into another man, grabs Doroteo, and rides off with Soledad.
Once they're clear of the camp, Paladin has Doroteo dismount and tells him to go back. He has no interest in fighting Luis' war. Doroteo tells Soledad that one day he will win his war and general and presidents will come to him using the name that his fighters know him by. Once Doroteo walks off, Soledad says that perhaps a man can't understand her feelings. Paladin asks what Doroteo's full name is, and Soledad says that it's Pancho Villa.
Written by Gadfly on Aug 12, 2018