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The town of Santa Maria, New Mexico is in need of a new town marshal, and one man, Charley Red Dog, is out to get the job. However, Charley is unaware that he received his marshal's diploma from a crooked correspondence school, and he may not survive unless Paladin lends a hand.
At the Hotel Carlton, Miss Pegeen Shannon comes down to the desk and drops off some correspondence. Paladin, standing nearby, assumes that she's a prostitute and she invites him up to her suite. Once she leaves, the clerk informs Paladin that Miss Shannon is the new hotel stenographer. Paladin goes up anyway and has Pegeen address a letter to John Staffer in Santa Maria, New Mexico. The letter acknowledges Staffer's advance payment for Paladin's services, but warns that he won't provoke a gunfight. Paladin has Pegeen include his card in the letter and send it off. As she leaves, Pegeen asks what made him change his mind, and warns him that she isn't as "friendly" as some of the women he meets in the lobby. Paladin assures her that he's willing to wait upon his return to discuss it...Read the full recap
Pegeen: What made you change your mind, Mr. Paladin?
Paladin: About what, Miss Shannon?
Paladin: Oh, Miss Shannon, some friendships are like good wine; a wise man lets them age before sampling.
Pegeen: I've seen a few of your "friendships" passing through the lobby. You'll find any relationship of ours slightly cooler.
Paladin: Perhaps. But then, some good wines are much better slightly chilled.
Charley Red Dog: I know "Marshal Charley Red Dog" may sound like a foolish name to some whites, but senor, I have promised that it will stand for justice and honesty and fairness, as it is written in the thick law books. Or I will die in this attempt.
Paladin: You wear that badge into Santa Maria, you probably will.
John Staffer: Oh, Paladin, we'll just end up with one dead Indian kid.
Paladin: He's going to try whether we like it or not.
John Staffer: Are you saying you couldn't stop him?
Paladin: Staffer, if I were Charley Red Dog, if I were an Indian boy and this was my one chance to stand as tall as any man, I'd rather die than be stopped.
Paladin: Respect can be as contagious as measles if it's properly spread around. And I'll be standing very close to him.
(Charley tears up his "diploma")
Paladin: How long have you known about that?
Charley Red Dog: Oh, perhaps always. But it gave me a direction. A simple Indian boy needs direction, Mr. Paladin. Almost as much as he needs respect.
Paladin: Respect is important to all men. Some will even risk death for it.
Charley Red Dog: And some just give it to others. I thank you for that.
John Staffer: Seems to me you ought to split that thousand with the marshal.
Lem: That ought to be fair, Mr. Paladin.
Cornish: Yeah, he did all the work.
Paladin: Well, I think we came out just about even. Marshal has your gratitude and I have your money.