(19) “The High Graders”

Original Airdate: (January 18, 1958)

After a man is killed in an accident, Paladin uncovers that the man may have been murdered.

SUSAN CABOT as Angela
ROBERT WILKE as Casey Bryan
ROBERT STEELE as Jockey
NICO MINARDOS as Gino
CARLYLE MITCHELL as Governor
CHRIS ALCAIDE as Morgan

I’ve been offered a dozen good ways to get myself killed since I came to this town. Now I’m going to make a few offers myself.

EXT. SAN FRANCISCO -DAY

EXT. TAILOR SHOP

“POLO DI MARCO”

GINO
It’s hard to realize it, Signore Paladin…only last week he was fitting the same coat and now he’s dead.

PALADIN
He was my friend for many years, Gino. I’ll miss him.

GINO
Of course, for Uncle Polo, the trouble is over. It is for Angela that I worry now.

PALADIN
Polo’s little girl?

GINO
Not so little, Signor. A young lady now.

PALADIN
Why should you worry about her?

GINO
We are losing the shop, Signor.

PALADIN
You’re losing this shop?

GINO
Creditors…it’s only a matter of time. The arms, Signor, raise it a little please.

PALADIN
Gino, your uncle was a wealthy man.

GINO
Si, signor, until he got into the mining business. When a tailor gets the gold bug, he’s a sick one for sure.

PALADIN
I remember when your uncle bought the Grail. He paid $40,000 for it. That’s a lot of money, but…

GINO
Nothing compared to what he put into it. Always, signor, he was putting good money after bad. Until the time of his death…a pauper.

29
00:02:01,687 –> 00:02:04,422
Whoa, whoa.

GINO
I’m expecting no one today.

ANGELA
Gino? Gino?

GINO
Well, Angela, what are you doing here?

ANGELA
Gino, from out of the blue, an offer for the mine. I got it this morning.

GINO
From whom?

ANGELA
Papa’s foreman. He’s interested some men in buying it. He says he thinks he can sell it for as much as $20,000.

GINO
$20,000! Mama mia! Salvation!

ANGELA
The deed must be here with Papa’s business papers.

GINO
Probably the locked drawer of the desk. I’ll…Oh, Signore Paladin, scusa. This is my cousin, Signorina Angela De Marco.

PALADIN
Miss De Marco, it’s an honor. Your father was a friend.

ANGELA
Oh, he spoke of you so often, Mr. Paladin. You were his favorite client. The one whose taste was beyond reproach.

PALADIN
I know you’ll forgive this intrusion, but you’re selling the mine?

ANGELA
Of course.

PALADIN
Well, don’t sell it too quickly, Miss De Marco. Your father had faith in it.

ANGELA
So much so, it killed him.

PALADIN
But if you sell it without at least first investigating, your father’s death will have gone for nothing.

ANGELA
What is there to investigate?

PALADIN
Well, the circumstances of his death, for one thing. What was he doing down in that mine?

ANGELA
Are you suggesting he was murdered?

PALADIN
No. I don’t know enough to suggest that. But I will say that the $20,000 offer makes me want to know more. Miss De Marco, give me one week. One week to investigate the operation of The Grail and the circumstances of your father’s death. If in that time, I’ve uncovered nothing, then go ahead, sell the mine.

ANGELA
Just how would you conduct your investigation, Mr. Paladin? If you are right, fancy clothes and pretty words won’t stop accidents.

Paladin shows them his card.  They smile.
That’s far enough, Mister.

PALADIN
If you say so.

JOCKEY
I ain’t seen you around here before.

PALADIN
I ain’t been around here before.

JOCKEY
Are you looking for trouble?

PALADIN
No.

82
00:04:52,158 –> 00:04:55,093
Right now, I’m looking for a match.

PALADIN
Are you looking for a cigar?

JOCKEY
Yeah, I don’t mind.

PALADIN
It’s a nice-looking gun you’ve got there.

PALADIN
Does the job.

JOCKEY
Thanks.

PALADIN
Course, I could have drawn on you when you were lighting that cigar. You must be a stranger. No one around here draws on The Jockey. I could light another match if you’d like to try it.

PALADIN
No, thanks. I’ve got other business today. Just what do you want, Mister?

PALADIN
Work.

JOCKEY
Well, try the Blue Eagle about a mile back down the road. I hear they’re putting on men.

PALADIN
Well, what’s wrong with The Grail, as long as I’m here?

JOCKEY
That makes you a newcomer. Well, there’s a line a mile long waiting to get on at The Grail. Signed up all the way back to last April.

PALADIN
Oh? Well, thanks.

JOCKEY
Sure.

108
00:06:05,597 –> 00:06:07,298
What did he want?

JOCKEY
What do they all want?

FADE TO

EXT. SALOON – NIGHT

MORGAN
Jack, you over by the livery stable. Tom, in front of the blacksmith’s shop. Ed, around by the store, and Pete, you better go with him. And remember, whatever you do, don’t let him draw.

PALADIN
I beg your pardon. Did I interrupt something?

MORGAN
That’s a good way to get yourself killed, Mister.

PALADIN
You know I’ve been offered a dozen good ways to get myself killed since I came to this town?

MORGAN
What are you doing here?

PALADIN
I’m looking for a man named Casey Bryan. He’s the foreman of The Grail.

MORGAN
You a Grail man?

PALADIN
Well, if I were, I’d probably know where to find Bryan, wouldn’t I?

MA N
Try all the saloons. He’s got money enough for drinking. Ain’t nothing but Grail men at the bars anymore.

PALADIN
The Grail seems to be a hard place to get a job.

MORGAN
You try again tomorrow. There’s gonna be a vacancy.

PALADIN
Oh, I see. Well, thank you very much, gentlemen.

MORGAN
All right, get in position, but don’t shoot till I give the word. I come for Hannah, Jockey. I got first claim.

JOCKEY
I just bought off all claims, Morgan. Show him, baby.

MORGAN
You Grail muckers think you can buy anything.

JOCKEY
Girl like Hannah likes the finer things in life. You can’t handle that on four bucks a day, Morgan.

MORGAN
Used to be enough.

JOCKEY
It isn’t now. Why don’t you Blue Eagle gophers get smart? The only thing you’re ever gonna rate is our leftovers. I’m taking Hannah home. You’re gonna stop me? That’s just what we had in mind.

PALADIN
Now, Jockey…how are things tonight?

JOCKEY
Looks like the beginning of a busy evening.

MORGAN
You keep out of this, Mister. This a personal fight with The Grail.

PALADIN
That a fact? Too bad you had such a long waiting line this morning.

JOCKEY
You want a job at The Grail that bad, friend, you got one, starting now.

PALADIN
You can have it any way you want it, gentlemen.

JOCKEY
I saw you out of the corner of my eye. That was a good draw.

PALADIN
Thanks.

JOCKEY
I figure I shaded you just a mite, though.

PALADIN
Well, as long as we weren’t facing each other, it doesn’t matter.

JOCKEY
You’re all right, Mister. Anything you want, anything The Jockey can ever do for you, you just name it.

PALADIN
Well, I already have. What time do I report to work in the morning?

JOCKEY
Be there at 6:00.

PALADIN
Thank you.

JOCKEY
Come on, Hannah.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

PALADIN
Hold it! Want a cave-in? Hey, you taking over here, Mister?

PALADIN
There’s a pull here at the tracks.

PALADIN
Looks like it’s weakening.

CASEY
Jim, get some timber. Hold that powder until I say. Can’t recall seeing you around here before. Where you work?

PALADIN
Here, there.

CASEY
I know about here, but where’s there?

PALADIN
Orofino, Bingham Canyon, Big Bonanza.

CASEY
You move around.

PALADIN
I just follow the gold. I’m glad you saw this. You seem to know your stuff.

PALADIN
It’s the only way to stay alive. I understand your boss didn’t.

CASEY
You understand what?

PALADIN
I understand your boss didn’t know his stuff. He got careless around the dynamite. It was just an unfortunate accident. Could have happened to anybody.

Paladin sees some of the other miners pilfering gold ore.

CASEY
Quitting time. Everybody out.

CASEY
Quitting time. Everybody out. Quitting time. Everybody out. Come on, get a move on. Get moving. You got gold on you? Any gold? How about you, any gold? Any gold on you?

CASEY
You got any gold on you?

PALADIN
Small filling in a back molar.

CASEY
Get moving.

CASEY
That’s all? What do you want, a bag? Get moving. Got any gold on you, Reed? Any gold on you?

PALADIN
Well, that’s some inspection.

JOCKEY
Well, we have to take precautions. You never can tell when some thievin’ mucker might try a little high-grade.

ANGELA
I did not expect to find you at The Grail, working as a miner.

PALADIN
I didn’t expect to find you at all. You almost gave me away this morning. Why did you come?

ANGELA
Because I’ve had another offer from the syndicate represented by Casey.

PALADIN
Casey?

ANGELA
Mr. Bryan…Papa’s foreman. He wired just as soon as you left San Francisco.

PALADIN
Offering to increase the price just as soon as you said you’d like to wait a while.

ANGELA
Well, yes. How did you know?

PALADIN
Because I’ve seen muckers getting rich on a mine that drove the owner into bankruptcy. You’re being high-graded.

ANGELA
“High-graded”?

PALADIN
That’s a polite word for “stealing.” The miners take the rich ore- almost pure gold- for themselves. The low-grade ore- they call it “company ore”- that they load into the cars.

ANGELA
That’s impossible. Casey- Mr. Bryan- he personally conducts an inspection of the men every day.

PALADIN
I’ve seen the inspection.

ANGELA
What are you implying?

PALADIN
I’m not implying anything. Here. I’m stating flatly, Mr. Bryan is not to be trusted.

ANGELA
I trust him.

PALADIN
You don’t know him.

ANGELA
Mr. Paladin, I know him better than I know you.

PALADIN
Miss De Marco, you don’t know that man as well as you think you do.

ANGELA
Unless you can give me definite proof, I cannot believe your wild accusations. So, if you’ll excuse me, I have an engagement.

PALADIN
All right, Miss De Marco. But we agreed I’d be here for a week. That means I still have a few days to work. And in the meantime, will you keep this in mind: If your father did suspect something, Mr. Bryan may very well be the man responsible for his death.

CASEY
Jockey.

JOCKEY
Hi, Casey. Come on, I’ll buy you a drink.

CASEY
Not now. You got a job to do.

JOCKEY
What’s the trouble?

CASEY
Your friend Paladin didn’t pay his employment fee.

JOCKEY
Is that all? Eh, probably just slipped his mind.

CASEY
I don’t figure it that way. I saw him go into the hotel and checked on him. Hew went to Angela De Marco’s room.

JOCKEY
A company spy.

CASEY
You know what to do. Get some of the boys out of the saloon.

JOCKEY
I will…but just for an audience. I ain’t gonna need any help.

EXT.

JOCKEY
Hold it, Paladin.

PALADIN
Well, Jockey, what’s on your mind?

JOCKEY
A little matter of $25.

PALADIN
What for?

JOCKEY
Employment fee. $25 a day. Hand it over.

PALADIN
Well, I thought I’d pay that to Bryan myself.

JOCKEY
Give it to me. I do his collecting. That’s fine. Now you can die with a clean slate.

PALADIN
What’s the occasion?

JOCKEY
A little party. The kind we give company spies.

PALADIN
You’re a brave man, Jockey, with that mob behind you.

JOCKEY
This ain’t no mob- they’re witnesses.

PALADIN
Witnesses to what?

JOCKEY
To the fact that you drew on me and I killed you in self-defense.

PALADIN
You sure this is what you want?

JOCKEY
I saw you draw once, Paladin. I figure I shaded you. You ready?

PALADIN
Any time you say.

Paladin shoots him down handily.

PALADIN
Fast… but not accurate. Anybody figure he can do better? See you tomorrow, at The Grail.

INT. HOTEL ROOM – EVENING

CASEY
Well, when your father told me what he paid for the mine, I advised him to get out as best he could.

ANGELA
I wish he’d taken your advice- he’d still be alive today.

CASEY
That’s very true.

ANGELA
But if the mine is a bad investment, why do these men wish to buy it?

CASEY
Well, The Grail could be made to show a profit, if a great deal of money were invested in new equipment, and if it had professional management. With all due respect, Miss Angela, your father was an amateur in this business.

ANGELA
I understand. Really, I hardly know what to do.

CASEY
Well, because of you, I feel a deep responsibility, so I got the investors to agree to a price of $30,000.

ANGELA
30,000?

CASEY
But only if you’ll agree at once, so they can begin the new improvements.

PALADIN
$30,000, eh, Bryan? Don’t bother to rise. $30,000 should just about cover two months’ profit. $15,000 a month- that’s about what you’re taking out of The Grail, isn’t it?

ANGELA
Mr. Paladin, what are you doing? What are you doing?!

PALADIN
Well, I came to tell this man he needs a new collector.

CASEY
I don’t know what you’re talking about.

PALADIN
Of course you do. You need somebody to collect the $25 a day you charge the miners for the privilege of stealing all they can carry. There are a lot of men working in The Grail, Miss De Marco, you figure it out. It won’t take him long to get $30,000.

CASEY
This man is insane.

PALADIN
Not at all. Miss De Marco, there’s no group of investors. Bryan is planning to buy the mine for himself with money he’s already stolen from you.

CASEY
Miss Angela, there’s one way we can disprove all this nonsense.

ANGELA
How is that?

CASEY
I can show you the actual working shift in The Grail. You can see for yourself there are no easy riches there.

ANGELA
Well, that is reasonable. What do you say, Mr. Paladin?

PALADIN
I don’t like it.

ANGELA
Why not? It seems to be the perfect chance to disprove, or prove, your accusations. I think Mr. Bryan shows his innocence by inviting me to see the mine.

PALADIN
You show your innocence by even considering it.

ANGELA
I don’t know what you mean.

PALADIN
Your father got the same invitation.

ANGELA
Mr. Bryan, I accept your offer.

CASEY
Thank you for your confidence, Miss Angela.

PALADIN
Well, that leaves me only one alternative. You’ll be short $25 tomorrow. Miss De Marco, I quit.

INT. GOLD MINE

CASEY
Oh, this is the principle ore vein. It runs diagonally downward through this rock strata here.

ANGELA
Well, it does look as though the vein is quite rich. All that yellow’s showing through.

CASEY
It’s worthless. The miner’s call it “fool’s gold.”

ANGELA
Oh, I didn’t know.

CASEY
Of course not. Neither did your father.

ANGELA
Did he see this part of the mine?

CASEY
Yes. As a matter of fact, it was very near here he had his unfortunate accident. Oh, excuse me a minute.

ANGELA
Wha… what’s that for?

She screams.

PALADIN
Bryan!

PALADIN
Run! There’s dynamite back there! Run! Run! Don’t stand there! There’s dynamite back there! It’s gonna blow! He lit the fuse! There’s dynamite back there! Run! Get out of here!

ANGELA
What was that?

PALADIN
It looks like your friend, Mr. Bryan, had an unfortunate accident.

GOVERNOR IRWIN
But the lapel, Signore De Marco, they’re too wide.

GINO
Never. You must have the Parisian slight wing with a taper. Signore Paladin. Excuse me, signor. Signore Paladin. I have your suits ready. I will get them.

PALADIN
Thank you. Governor, it’s an honor to see you again, sir.

GOVERNOR IRWIN
It’s my pleasure, Mr. Paladin.

PALADIN
This is Governor Irwin. Miss De Marco.

GOVERNOR IRWIN
Miss De Marco.

PALADIN
Gino, you’re breaking His Excellency’s trousers above the shoes. And the line here? And the Parisian lapels are much to extreme for His Excellency. Straight London for him.

GINO
But Signore Paladin…You’re right, of course. I will take care of it immediately.

GOVERNOR IRWIN
Paladin, I wish I had you around to handle legislature for me. My congratulations, Miss De Marco. I read in the financial pages of your good luck in the mining business. Did you know that Miss De Marco was a mine owner, Mr. Paladin?

ANGELA
Without the help of Mr. Paladin, I’d have had nothing. And his fee!

GOVERNOR IRWIN
Exorbitant?

ANGELA
Hardly. All he would take is two suits a year… for life.

PALADIN
It’ll add up. I expect to live a long time.