Paladin arrives at the Beecher Ranch on the morning before Christmas. He wishes everyone a Merry Christmas, but they ignore him. When he asks one man what's going on, the response is that it's Nathaniel Beecher's ranch. Paladin finds Nathaniel beating up a ranch hand, Jesse, supposedly for letting cattle run off. The foreman, Tater, intervenes, saying it was an accident, but Nathaniel insists the man disrespected him and orders him off the property. Paladin steps forward and shows him his card. He explains that Nathaniel contacted him to find his missing son, Robbie. The rancher informs him that he's already recovered his son. He refuses to pay Paladin his travel expenses, and things turn messy when Paladin threatens to take three cows in payment. Tater intervenes and reminds Nathaniel that Paladin speaks Pawnee. Paladin agrees to interpret for $100 a day...Read the full recap
Paladin: With this gun, I could've stopped murder tonight. But I've taken it off. That's my present to you.
Nathaniel Beecher: You talk Pawnee?
Paladin: I do. Ordinarily, I'd interpret for nothing. For you, the fee is $100 a day.
Paladin: You're a curious mixture, Beecher. Tears in your eyes, bruises on your knuckles, a rope for Indians, misery for your employees, and a full heart for a boy who... which one is really Nathaniel Beecher?
Nathaniel Beecher: The one that's paying you to talk Pawnee.
Paladin: My card says "Have Gun, Will Travel." I have no intention of trying to justify my profession to you people, or my personal code. I am a long way from being a preacher, but I do know something about killing, and that's what you people are going to have to do tonight. Now, rightly or wrongly, the Pawnees believe that boy belongs to them. It might interest Mr. Beecher to know that the boy was adopted--purchased from the Sioux. He might be Robbie Beecher. Few people love children as much as the Pawnees do. Their chief might have given up the boy, and properly treated, he might still give up the boy. On the other hand, those Pawnees can run no further. They would rather die out there in that camp tonight, than give up that boy to force. Now, I suppose this isn't much of a Christmas message. I haven't reminded you that this day has a very special meaning. I haven't tried to tell you that, to a starving man, food might have more weight than all your rifles.
Nathaniel Beecher: That's the story from the beginning, Mr. Paladin. The belly always wins out.
Paladin: All my life, I've only seen a dozen real killers, but I've seen ten thousand people that would stand by and let it happen. Now, which is the greater offense?
Cah-la-te: Cah-la-te forget how to kill. Know how to die.
Paladin: Well, this is the night when some people pretend there's no evil in the world. This is the one night of the year when the white man honors the children of his tribe.