At the Carlton, Paladin is tasting wine with a young woman and Hey Boy is assisting. Paladin receives mail with a wanted poster for the alive-or-dead capture of David Gibbs. There's also a note from David's father, Morgan, saying he'll pay Paladin $5,000 if he brings David in alive.
Paladin rides to Santa Ynez where Morgan is located. He stops at a hotel lobby and Morgan gives him directions to where David is outside of town. He explains that if he met David, one of them would kill the other. Morgan admits that David killed the woman that he's accused of and is fine with standing trial, but wants his son to face justice and not be drug in. As Paladin prepares to go, Morgan warns him that there are likely to be bounty hunter from out of state that will be looking for David as well.
Riding into the hills, Paladin finds the remains of David's campfire. He continues on and gunshots ring out. Paladin finds an old man, Perce Weber, shooting. Perce says that it's an old -and-ball rifle and he bought tobacco paper from the Santa Ynez store to load it. Paladin puts up his gun and Perce admits that he's a bounty hunter. Much to Paladin's amusement, Perce rambles on about all of the things he's done. Perce figures that Paladin is looking for David, and says that he's done most of the flushing but agrees to split the $500 if Paladin helps him.
Shots ring out from a nearby shack, and Perce warns that the half-blood Pima David has food but no water and will come out in a couple of days and then they'll get him. Paladin says that he planned to bring David in alive, and tells Perce to fire at the front of the shack. He makes a torch and gets close to the shed, while Perce fires from the front drawing David's attention. When David runs out, Paladin tackles him and tells Perce to hold his fire. David complains that Morgan wouldn't even let him die decently, and Paladin realizes that David is conducting the Pima death rite for himself.
Perce shoots David and Paladin shoots the bounty hunter dead. Dying, David asks Paladin to give him his bone knife so he can finish the ritual, but he's too weak to do it and dies in Paladin's arms.
Paladin takes David's body into town. When Paladin refuses to take the money, Morgan runs out to where his son's body is, and then comes back in and asks if Paladin plans to collect the $500. Paladin says that he'll be there until morning and goes up to his room.
The next morning, Paladin comes down and finds everyone gathered in the hotel lobby. The men draw guns on Paladin, and Morgan tells the clerk George to take Paladin's gun belt. Paladin hands his gun belt over and asks what Morgan is trying to prove. Morgan says that Paladin is going to stand trial for murdering David right there. Paladin dismisses it as a farce, and Morgan finds a barfly, Charlie, to act as judge. He appoints several of the men as a jury, including a passing drummer. Charlie calls the "court" to order, and a passing man asks Paladin if he's the man that Morgan is going to hire.
Morgan presents the bank draft as evidence. He has George testify that the money was for Paladin when he brought David in alive. Doc Richardson then testifies under oath that he's an experienced doctor and confirms that David was shot in the back. Paladin demands the right to cross-examine Richardson, and Morgan agrees. The gunfighter says that the bullet that killed David didn't come from his gun, and that Perce killed David. He has the merchant, Antrim, confirm that Perce bought the paper from his store, and Antrim says that Perce has been out of his mind for 20 years and couldn't shoot anyone. George asks if Paladin killed "ole Perce", and Paladin says that Perce killed David.
Paladin asks Morgan what he's hiding, and calls him to the stand. Once Morgan is seated, Paladin confirms that he's a wealthy man and says that he was a hide scrounger and married the daughter of a Pima chief, and got all of the Pima business. When Paladin says that everyone knows it, and David hated Morgan for it, Morgan testifies that he couldn't school or beat the Pima out of David. Paladin tells everyone that David came home from school and found his mother gone and Morgan ready to remarry another woman. Morgan testifies that he told his wife that another woman was coming, and she killed herself. Paladin says that she did it out of shame, and Morgan insists that David killed Morgan's new wife and everyone knows it.
Turning to George, Paladin asks him if he saw the murder. George says that he heard multiple shots, and Paladin notes that there were multiple shots according to the newspaper reports. Paladin says that David came back to kill David, and Morgan angrily responds that he told David that he wasn't cutting him out just because he was remarrying, but David didn't take it. Satisfied, Paladin tells Morgan that it doesn't matter who shot who because Morgan bred fear and hate into the town and eventually the townspeople will have enough of him.
Paladin sits down and Morgan has Charlie ask the jury for their verdict. The jury finds Paladin guilty, and Morgan has Charlie order Paladin to hang immediately. As the sheriff Frank leads Paladin out, Paladin grabs the man's rifle. In the struggle, it goes off and hits Morgan. Morgan, dying, asks if it was his bullet that killed his wife and insists that the guilty must die. As Morgan dies, Paladin agrees, collects his guns, and walks to the door. When Charlie objects, pointing out that Paladin has been sentenced hang, Paladin sarcastically suggests that he find a legal reason to find him innocent. Charlie remembers the law about dying declarations, and Paladin agrees and leaves.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 2, 2018