Paladin is relaxing in his room as Hey Boy cleans. When Paladin finds an article cut out of his newspaper, Hey By says that he was saving it for Paladin and hands it to him. The article is about the class, and on the back is a classified ad for a "damsel in distress" looking for a man with legal knowledge. Intrigued by the ad, Paladin sends his card to the box in the ad.
Later, Paladin goes to a perfume shop to meet with the owner, Michelle Ganaeux. He introduces himself and Michelle explains that her nephew Pierre Deverell ran away from home. Pierre's father has disinherited him and does not permit his wife, Michelle's sister, to help Pierre. So the sister called Michelle, who is looking for someone to help. She doesn't have much money, but offers Paladin a bottle of cognac and he accepts.
Soon Paladin rides to Solito where Pierre is located. He goes to the sheriff's office, and the sheriff trains a rifle on him. Once he has Paladin hand over his gun belt, he lets Paladin in. Another man, FItzgerald, is there and says that Paladin could be one of them. Paladin explains who he is and the sheriff says that there have been two attempts on Fitzgerald's life and someone tried to poison his prisoner, Pierre. They're hanging Pierre the next morning, and the sheriff explains that there was a stagecoach robbery and Fitzgerald was one of the passengers. Pierre led Fitzgerald away and considered taking his money, but didn't. Fitzgerald says that he shot at Pierre and grazed him, and when the sheriff and his men got there the other robbers had fled but Pierre was still there, unconscious. The sheriff says that Pierre signed a full confession.
The sheriff takes Paladin to Pierre's cell, and Paladin says that his family sent him. Pierre figures that they'll leave right away, and Paladin tells him that in Solito no one cares who Pierre is. He says that Pierre will hang him no matter who his family is. Pierre insists that he didn't do it, and explains that they wouldn't let him send a message out unless he signed his papers. Paladin tells PIerre to direct him to the other robbers, and PIerre says that their names are Dink, Luss, and Waller. He met them by accident and they all three wore beards. Dink fancied himself as a gunfighter, and Luss had a sore shoulder. They all had a rancid smell, and Paladin figures that they're buffalo hunters.
The three robbers, now clean-shaven, watch the sheriff's office and wonder what Paladin is doing there. Waller wants to try and poison Pierre again, but Dink points out that they failed and figures that they can kill Fitzgerald after the hanging and they can kill Paladin when he goes out.
Paladin reviews what happened with Fitzgerald and the sheriff, and confirms that there were no spent cartridges around the unconscious Pierre. The people that were shot had large caliber wounds like from a buffalo wagon. Despite the evidence supporting Pierre's version of events, the sheriff figures that Pierre is guilty because of his confession.
Going to the hotel, Paladin signs in and then takes a seat on the boardwalk. Dink comes over and says that Pierre claimed at the trial that he had partners. The younger man claims that he thinks Paladin was one of them. He tells Paladin to move on, and Paladin asks why he wants him out of town. Paladin advises him that he's making a bad mistake if he's calling him out and advises him to move along. Dink goes for his gun but Paladin kills him with his derringer. The sheriff comes over and suggests that Dink came after Paladin on his own. Paladin suggests that they use Fitzgerald as bait to lure Luss and Waller out, but the sheriff warns that Fitzgerald won't leave until he's sure the rest of the gang it out. Paladin tells the sheriff that he'll have to use himself as bait and goes back to his chair.
The next morning, Paladin goes to the sheriff's office and tells the sheriff that nothing happened. He asks the sheriff to take as long with the hanging as possible, and then takes Paladin to see Pierre. Pierre complains that Paladin is killing the witnesses against him, and Paladin reminds Pierre that he wanted to humiliate his father. Pierre concedes the point but figures that he shouldn't die for it. Paladin points out that he's safe for the first time in 24 hours, and they talk about how they can feel death coming. Pierre apologizes for getting Paladin into the situation, and Paladin says that he chose his life and h is way of losing it.
Paladin goes to the hotel, grabs the clerk by the nose, and gets his key. The clerk admits that he didn't think Paladin was coming back. Paladin goes up to his room and interrupts the clerk when he comes by with a breakfast tray, startling the man. The napkins smell like buffalo, and the clerk identifies which room it came from. Paladin gets his rope and breaks into the room, dodges a knife that Luss throws at him, tackles the man, and finds the scar on Luss' shoulder where he was gored.
After tying the rope around Luss, Paladin prepares to lynch him from the rafter. He asks Paladin who robbed the stagecoach, and Luss denies his involvement. Unconvinced, Paladin says that all he can do is proceed with the hanging. Luss says that Pierre confessed to do it, and then blames Dink. Paladin points out that the passengers were killed with a rifle and Dink had a gun, and Luss says that Waller did it and took out. Paladin doesn't believe him and strings Luss up, and Luss says that they were waiting until Fitzgerald came out.
Waller comes in and opens fire, and Paladin lets go of Luss, who dangles from the ceiling by the rope. Paladin wings Waller, who falls down the stairs into the hotel lobby. He tells all the waiting spectators that they can go home because there won't be a hanging, remembers Luss, runs back up to his room, cuts the man down before he dies, and takes him to the sheriff.
Written by Gadfly on Aug 19, 2018