At the Carlton, Captain Zimmerman is playing multiple opponents at once and mocking his "inferior" opponents. He stares at one table in shock, and Paladin tells him Zimmerman that his queen is in jeopardy. Hey Girl brings Paladin a wire that he's wanted in Monterey and his bags are packed.
Several days later, Paladin arrives at a mission and finds armed men outside. Two of the men, Harkness and Cordilene, tell Paladin to dismount. He does so and they ask him if his business is with Vernon Good. Paladin has never heard of him, but they refuse to let him into the mission. When Cordilene tries to stop him, Paladin draws on him. Harkness asks if they sent for Paladin, and Harkness confirms that Paladin isn't there on Vernon's request. He tells Paladin to go inside and Cordilene warns Paladin to be gone by morning.
Paladin knocks at the mission door and Father Montalvo angrily answers the door. He excuses himself, saying that he thought Paladin was someone else, and invites Paladin to join him and agrees to put him up for the night. Inside, they enjoy orisons and wine, and Paladin asks what is going on outside. Montalvo explains that they want to hang Vernon and points out the young man seated at a nearby table. The father explains that Vernon rode in two days ago and Montalvo granted him sanctuary. Montalvo says that he would grant sanctuary to anyone, and Paladin gives him his card. Paladin says that he wields the sword out of conviction, and Montalvo says that he lives with his faith without reservation and doesn't accept that Paladin's conviction is the equal of his own. The gunfighter defends his choice, and Montalvo concedes that he is tormented by curiosity and anger. He says that the way he leaves is his way, and explains that he only attacks Paladin to affirm his own faith. Paladin toasts him and Montalvo takes him to his rest.
As night falls, Montalvo leads Paladin to a cellar where he can rest for the night. Paladin gently insists on keeping his loaded gun nearby, and asks what Vernon has done. Montalvo hasn't asked or cares, and says that he intends to keep his word concerning Sanctuary. He says that Harkness and the others don't concern him and leaves.
The next morning, Paladin goes outside with Montalvo. Paladin says that he'd like to stay for a while but declines. Montalvo invites him to contribute to the mission maintenance fund, and Paladin takes the hint and gives him some money. As Paladin leaves, Cordilene asks how the killer Vernon is doing. Paladin invites him to try his opinion in a court of law. Harkness refuses to go into the mission and commit desecration. Once he walks away, Cordilene advises Paladin to tell Montalvo that he'll give him until sundown to hand over Vernon or he'll come in and drag Vernon out.
Paladin goes back and Montalvo is furious that Cordilene would violate sanctuary. He gets control of himself and says that he has to pray for divine guidance, and Paladin suggests that he get it before sunset. Vernon tells Montalvo that he'll get out, and Montalvo offers to go with him. Montalvo figures that they won't go after Vernon if he's with them, and Paladin warns the father that Cordilene is insane and will kill them both. The father suggests that Paladin's faith as strong as his, and Paladin says that it's his good sense that he doubts. Montalvo goes to pray and Paladin offers to take Vernon to Monterey to stand trial.
Come sundown, Cordilene and his men go in. A hooded father leads them into a room, attacks them, and then walks out. The "father" is Paladin, who knocks them out and then rides off with Vernon and Montalvo, driving off the men's horses as he goes.
The three men make camp a few hours later. Montalvo says that sometimes faith need only be put on the right man, and that someone who lives partially by the sword has been known to do God's work. Paladin isn't fooled, and suggests that he's been used. Vernon thanks Paladin for his help, and says that there's no need for Paladin to go any further. Montalvo agrees, and Paladin suggests that Vernon might right for the border and agrees to ride along. Vernon draws a gun on both of them and Paladin asks if he's guilty or just scared. The young man tells Paladin to remove his gun belt, and Paladin does so. Montalvo tells Vernon to give him the gun and charges at Vernon when he refuses. Paladin kills Vernon before he can kill Montalvo.
As Paladin gets Montalvo coffee, Cordilene and his men ride up. Cordilene confirms that Vernon is dead and figures that he's guilty as sin. Montalvo wonders and Paladin says that they'll never know. Cordilene offers $100 to the man who killed Vernon, and Paladin punches him. Montalvo says that he would have struck Cordilene if Paladin hadn't, and Paladin says that doing so wouldn't have weighed as much on his conscience.
Written by Gadfly on Feb 10, 2019