(5) “A Matter of Ethics”

Original Airdate: (October 12, 1957)

“This gun says there will be no lynching here. There’s earth enough to bury every man who comes to me with a rope.”

An accused murderer who fears that he will be lynched before he can be returned to Bender, Wyoming, for trial, hires Paladin to make sure he gets there alive.

Guest Starring:

Bart Holgate (Harold J. Stone), Amy Bender (Angie Dickinson), Max Bender (Willis Bouchey), Fred Coombs (Strother Martin), Sheriff Swink (Roy Barcroft), Deputy Harry Dill (Steven Terell)

INT. CARLTON HOTEL LOBBY – SAN FRANCISCO – DAY

SALESMAN
Here you are Mr. Paladin; as you have designed it in almost solid platinum.

Closeup shot of Paladin’s signature chesspiece

PALADIN
Very nice. I know platinum is hard to work with. It requires great heat.

SALESMAN
Yes, Sir. The combination of rare metal and great skill makes that quite an expensive ornament.

PALADIN
Naturally, leave your bill at the desk

HEYBOY
Thank you Mr. Paladin.

SALESMAN
Leave the bill…?

PALADIN
…at the desk. Good day sir.

SALESMAN
Uh…Mr. Paladin..he’s uh..wealthy?

HEYBOY
Here..always I bring Paladin newspaper from every place..him big tipper.

SALESMAN
I’m to leave a bill for Mr. Paladin. It that all right

DESK CLERK
Quite all right, sir, this is his permanent residence

SALESMAN
His credit?

DESK CLERK
You must be new to San Francisco. No one questions Mr. Paladin’s credit.

SALESMAN

He’s engaged in business here?

DESK CLERK
He must have investments all over the West, he’s always going away on business trips.

PALADIN [reading silently from the newspaper] Bartholemew Holgate, wanted for murder by the town of Bender in Wyoming Territory was captured in the foothills, south of Sacremento this morning. Holgate pleaded with the local authorities against being returned to Bender. The prisoner stated he would be turned over to a mob which would lynch him”

SALESMAN
Everything’s taken care of Mr. Paladin..It’s a pleasure to do business with a gentleman of taste.

Barthomew Holgate…Care of jail…Sacremento California.

(inserts his business card)

HOLGATE
Get out of the way.

PALADIN Seems you got tangled-up in some iron clothesline.

SHERIFF
Stay put or I’ll blow you in half. I oughta pull the trigger and finish it right here. Thanks mister! Give me them irons!

HOLGATE: You can’t blame me you’ll take me back to be lynched.

SHERIFF
You don’t deserve better. Now step out for a minute and Harry here tries to make it more comfortable. Kick him in the head and take off I’ll not be making the mistake of kindness again

PALADIN
You, I take it, are Bartholemew Holgate. You received my card.
I received your wire You!

HOLGATE
I thought you was on my side

SHERIFF
Who are you Mister?

PALADIN
My name is Paladin. Your name, Sheriff is?

SHERIFF
Swink. And this young fellow who’s liable to blow a hole in you is my deputy, Harry Dill. What’s your business here?

PALADIN: That remains to be settled. What makes you think you’ll be lynched? HOLGATE: The town was named after Max Bender. The Benders are well liked. It was his son who caught my bullet.

PALADIN
I’ll tell you what I’ll do. For 200 dollars, I’ll guarantee to deliver you alive to stand trial.

HOLGATE
Alright, Paladin, I’ll see that you get your money the moment I step in the courtroom.

PALADIN
Now, what do you think the chances are of my employer here being lynched? I think he’ll try it.Will you stop it.

HOLGATE
Don’t ask him. PALADIN: I didn’t hear your answer Sheriff.

SHERIFF
It’ll be a cruel hard decision.

PALADIN
Then we are on the same side.

SHERIFF
The whole town on the other side, I don’t figure we’ll come out on top.

PALADIN
As the poet Browning wrote: “Tis’ is not what man does that exalts him, but what man would do.” And we three would do right.

SHERIFF
Maybe that poet don’t mind failing. But me, when I put my hand to a thing I like to know it’s gonna be done!

PALADIN: “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?” That’s Browning, again.

(Paladin pulls his hat down and tries to sleep) Train running down the track.

SHERIFF
Max, Amy. How’d you know we’d come in on this train?

MAX
We waited on all the trains. I wanted to see the man that killed my son!

SHERIFF
He’s gonna get a trial, Max. AMY: My brother didn’t have a trial. SHERIFF: Amy!

AMY
He didn’t have a gun and didn’t have a trial with a smart lawyer to trick him to freedom or a prison sentence.

PALADIN
The man who killed your brother will have a trial Miss Bender.

AMY
Who are you!

PALADIN
My name is Paladin.

SHERIFF
Holgate hired him to see that he ain’t lynched.

AMY
So, the gunfighters are all for law and order, if the price is right.

PALADIN
You don’t buy law and order,

Miss Bender, you fight for it.

MAX
Once you have it, you don’t throw it away.

PALADIN
Your father knows how hard law is to come by.

AMY
All this talk won’t change the writing on my brother’s tombstone!
Your neighbors will come for this man, Sheriff. And you’ll do what’s right!

PALADIN
He will. And so will you.

[commercial break]

HARRY
You’re on your own, Harry. I’ll be back if trouble breaks.

MAX
Good work, Swink. Now that you’ve got the honey in the hive, the bees will be swarming around soon enough.

PALADIN
Sheriff, I’ll bed down on one of your office cots until the trial.

SHERIFF
Alright, but I’ll be using the other one.

(Holgates’ lawyer, Fred Coombs enters the jailhouse)

COOMBS
Greetings, gentlemen!

SHERIFF
You didn’t lose any time, did you Coombs?

COOMBS
My client and I must start preparing our defense. And mind you, Sheriff, I expect you to deliver us only to the court.

PALADIN
Exactly.

COOMBS
Who’s he?

PALADIN
Well, let’s say, I’m a deputy to assist the sheriff.

HOLGATE
He’s all right. I hired his gun. He’ll see to it I get to the courtroom.

PALADIN
And you’ll see to it that your attorney turns the fee over to the person that I choose.

HOLGATE
I’ll tell him.

COOMBS
Right now, we’d like privacy. My client and I must discuss the case.

SHERIFF
Go ahead. Rap on the bars when you’re through.

COOMBS
Well, sir. I have been examining our case. Talking to the witnesses.
Searching for legal precedents.

HOLGATE
Can you get me off?

COOMBS
No. However, we might make a case out of the fact that you assumed young Bender to be armed.

HOLGATE
What does that get me?

COOMBS
Ten to twenty years, perhaps life.

HOLGATE
That won’t hardly do, see!

COOMBS
I see, well Bart, we can merely present our defense. We cannot command a verdict.

HOLGATE
Can we buy one?

COOMBS
No, no, no. Not in the present situation.

HOLGATE
Then I better not stay around for the trial.

COOMBS
Well, you’re safer in this cell than you would be outside. If you fell into the hands of those townspeople.

HOLGATE
The town can help me out of this mess. Yeah.  Let them come roaring up to the front of the jail in a mob yelling for my neck.

COOMBS
They’ll do that right enough.

HOLGATE
And sweep that kid and Paladin will be out there trying to hold them off. There’ll be gunplay and noise aplenty.

COOMBS
There’ll be that too.

HOLGATE
Let’s see. I still got a couple of friends. William McKethe. They still around?

COOMBS
Yes. They signed on at the Circle X Ranch.

HOLGATE: Well, uh, have them ride into town.

(fade to hangman’s noose in front of the Bender General Store)

COOMES: That’s Amy Bender’s doing. PALADIN: She keeps stirring the pot till it boils over.

COOMBS: She was always such a nice quiet girl. I never suspected that there was a streak of pure meanness under it all.

PALADIN: Meanness, Mr. Coomes, hardly. Amy Bender hates him with good cause. It’s frustrating for a woman to hate like this. She can’t strap on a gun and settle this affair with her own two hands.

[Int. – Day – Bender General Store]

PALADIN: Well? Miss Bender, I wonder if you’d hold some money for me. You’re not to give it to me until Holgate steps into the courtroom. If he does before that, return it to Mr. Coomes.

AMY: Think I’d hold your blood money. PALADIN: Blood money? For keeping a man alive? MAX: I’ll hold that money for you.

PALADIN: Thank you, Mr. Bender.

COOMBS: Well, you don’t need me any more.

AMY: If you won’t help us, at least stay out of it completely. Who needs weapons? TOWNSMAN: Lend me a shotgun, Amy. A double blast at the belly ought to cut a man in half.

PALADIN: That man wouldn’t be any deader than one with a 45 slug between his eyes. TOWNSMAN: Yeah, you’re a big man with a gun, ain’t you? PALADIN: And you’re a big man with a crowd. TOWNSMAN: Don’t need no crowd. I don’t need no gun!

(punches Paladin)

PALADIN: Stay away from the jail.

AMY: Don’t try to stop us, gunfighter. There’s room for another noose out there.

PALADIN: So there is. And earth enough to bury every man who comes to me with a rope!

(commercial break)

[EXT. – NIGHT – ]

PALADIN: How’s it been? SHERIFF: Quiet in here. It ain’t building up on the streets. PALADIN: Small groups, big talk.

HOLGATE: Nothings gonna happen tonight. They’ll wait till ward reaches the ranch and the nesters. I’ll make it to party tonight. PALADIN: Feels like it. HOLGATE: Get a good nights sleep, boys. Don’t want you dozing tomorrow night.

PALADIN: Holgate seems to be in a happier frame of mind tonight.

SHERIFF: He’s got no worries. We’re supposed to look after him in jail and Coomes’ll look after him in court.

PALADIN: Sheriff, I’ve got an idea Holgate can look after himself. Is there any place around here I can lock this up? I wouldn’t want it handled too much. SHERIFF: Well, this has got a key. You could put it in there. Thank you. SHERIFF: What do you got in that bag anyhow? PALADIN: Just some of the tools of my trade. SHERIFF: Uh, oh. Look it here. What do we got now? PALADIN: So? SHERIFF: Well, theys the McKees, his friends. That’s Fred Coomes place. Now what would he be wanting with Holgates lawyer?

PALADIN: Sheriff, if want to sit up tonight and ponder any answers to questions, I’ve got a better one for you to chew on. SHERIFF: What’s that?

PALADIN: Who do they figure to ride that extra horse?

[EXT. – DAY – ]

PALADIN: A man came by and said you wanted to see me. AMY: Now that you’ve had a night to sleep on it. Do you still intend to fight for Holgate? Nothings come up to change my position, Miss Bender. AMY: Something might. PALADIN: For instance? AMY: Mr. Paladin. I don’t want anyone hurt. I just want Holgate to pay for my brother’s death. PALADIN: So far, no argument.

AMY: I believe Sheriff Swink can be persuaded not to shoot at his friends. In that case, no harm will come to him. The same goes for his deputy.

PALADIN: That’s a lot of believing Miss Bender but go ahead.

AMY: That leaves just you. You’re not out to kill somebody and be killed in turn. PALADIN: It would seem so.

AMY: You’re doing this for money. What if I gave you more money to leave town now? PALADIN: That’s a definite offer, I take it.

AMY: Cash. I’ll get it for you. PALADIN: Don’t do that.

PALADIN: Switching sides for money, that’s most unethical. I’m afraid not. AMY: But, why?

PALADIN: Have you ever seen a lynching, Miss Bender?

AMY: No, I imagine it…

PALADIN: Your imagination would fall far short of the truth. No matter what Holgate’s done he won’t be handed over to feed the animal instincts of a mob! What’s the matter, is your conscience acting up?

AMY: I don’t want anyone hurt except Holgate.

PALADIN: That’s the trouble with a lynching, Miss Bender, you can’t have it ordered up all neat and dainty like a yard of Flemish lace. It’s something that cowards get whiskyed up and mumble over. Winding up with screams in the gutters of a dark night.

AMY: There’s nothing you can do to stop it!!

It’s all set, Amy.

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