Paladin is relaxing in the Carlton lobby but soon grows bored and
notices a young man toying with a Chinese puzzle toy. The gunfighter
introduces himself and the young man, Rudy Rossback, explains that he
bought the toy for his unborn son, and that his wife Katie is out
shopping as they speak.
As Paladin toys with the puzzle, someone fires a shot, shattering a vase on the table. Rudy complains that it's "her" again, and looks toward a young woman holding a derringer. When she comes over, Paladin expertly disarms her and grabs Rudy as he tries to run off. He then has Hey Boy take Rudy up to his room while he escorts the woman into the hotel parlor. The woman vows to kill Rudy the next time she gets an opportunity and introduces herself as Eve MacIntosh. She recognizes Paladin and offers him $1,000 to kill the man. Paladin refuses, insisting that he's not a hired assassin, and tells her not to shoot at men by mistake. He threatens to call the police but Eve dares him to try it and see if Rudy press charges.
When Paladin realizes that he'll get nowhere, he releases Eve and she picks up the discarded puzzle toy before walking out. Paladin then goes up to his suite where Hey Boy is keeping Rudy from leaving. When the gunfighter tells Hey Boy to call the police, Rudy says that he won't press charges because he's hurt Eve enough. He explains that he was serving with the North in the Civil War and was at Eve's plantation. Her 14-year-old brother David killed Rudy's sergeant and tried to kill him, and Rudy was forced to gun the boy down. Ashamed, Rudy has never told Katie what he did, but figures that he can't run from Eve any more. Paladin gives Rudy his card in case the man wants to press charges against Eve.
As Rudy goes down to the lobby to greet Katie, he spots Eve at the desk. His wife realizes that something has upset her husband, and Rudy insists that they have to leave. He tells Katie to get ready to head home and then approaches Paladin and takes him into the parlor. Once they're alone, Rudy offers to hire Paladin using every last cent that he has. The amount isn't much but Paladin decides to take the job anyway. Katie comes in to see what they're talking about, and Paladin tells Rudy that if anything develops then he'll take the job. The Rossbacks then go to their room to pack.
That night, Paladin returns from the opera and spots Eve in the lobby, paying off a young gunman. He goes over and says that Eve has made an interesting choice, and she gives him the puzzle toy and tells him to return it to Rudy. Once Paladin leaves, Eve insists that the gunman finish off Rudy. However, the hired gun says that he'll do it in his own way, and hopes that Paladin decides to intervene.
The next day, Paladin rides out to Rudy's farm. En route he spots Eve and the gunman in a carriage and continues ahead to them. When he gets to the farm, Katie claims that Rudy isn't there. However, Rudy comes out and tells his wife that he and Paladin have personal business. Paladin tries to convince him to tell Katie the truth, but Rudy escorts his wife inside over her objections. He asks Paladin if he's going to take the job, and Paladin asks if Rudy is going to continue running. The young man admits that he can't run any more with a pregnant wife and a settled farm, and Paladin warns him that he may not have any other choices. Paladin gives the puzzle toy back to him and Rudy asks him to tell Katie what happened for him. The gunfighter refuses, saying that's not part of his price, and Rudy realizes that he'll have to do it himself.
Rudy goes back in the house and tells Katie what is going on. She grabs a rifle but Rudy refuses to let his wife kill Eve and hurt her any more than he already has. Paladin comes in and tells Rudy that he's a fool, and Katie agrees but says her husband is a noble fool. However, when Paladin tells them that Eve has hired a gunman to kill Rudy, the young man realizes that he has to fight and grabs the rifle.
Eve and the gunman arrive, and Paladin and the Rossbacks greet them. The gunman takes in Paladin, gun at the ready, and then carefully removes his gun belt and walks behind the barn. Eve joins him and wonders why the man is putting on a pair of spurs. The gunman explains that they're fighting spurs, and that if he killed Paladin then he'd be wanted for murder. However, if he kills his opponent in a fistfight by "accident," he'll be in the clear.
Eve and the gunman walk back out to the yard and Rudy, seeing that the hired gun is unarmed, gives Paladin the rifle and says that he's done running. As Eve watches with satisfaction, Rudy attacks the gunman, who is clearly more experienced and slashes Rudy several times with his spurs. Rudy bleeds and Eve slowly grows more shocked at the sight of the violence being done in her brother's name.
Paladin finally figures that Rudy has had enough and stops the fight, shoving the gunman away. As Katie runs to her husband, the gunman walks back behind the barn and Eve goes after him. Paladin asks Rudy if he feels better now that he's hit someone, and Katie leads him into the house. Meanwhile, the hired gun puts his gun back on. Eve tells him that she'll finish it her way and she doesn't need him anyway, but the gunman says that he has a personal interest now. Eve draws her derringer and orders him to stop, but he easily disarms her and tells her that she's going to get what she paid for. The gunman steps out and Paladin goes to meet him. The two men draw and Paladin kills his opponent.
Eve tries to go but Paladin grabs her and then calls Rudy over and grabs him as well. He gives his gun to Eve and tells her to do the job herself, but she'll have to look into Rudy's eyes and watch him die. Eve tries to pull the trigger but then gives the gun back and runs off, crying. She trips and Katie goes to comfort her, ignoring Eve's attempts to shove her away because she doesn't want her pity.
Later, Paladin is preparing to ride out with Eve and Rudy pays him his fee. Paladin tears it up and says that Eve is going to find a way to make up for his trouble, and he can't accept a fee from both sides. He then gets in the carriage with Eve and drives off.
Written by Gadfly on Nov 4, 2018