61-“The Scorched Feather”

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, Written by Bruce Geller.

LON CHANEY JR. as William Ceilbleu / Billy Blue Sky
MARIO ALCALDE as Robert Ceilbleu / Hotan Eaton
CY MALIS as Piggo
MIKE STEELE as Al
TONY REGAN as Hotel Carlton Desk Clerk (uncredited)

The road you travel leads Death. If I can turn you back, I will.
If I can’t, then I’m the end of that road for you.

HEY BOY
Paging mr. Paladin. Mr. Paladin? Mr. Paladin?

PALADIN
Hey Boy. Over here.

HEY BOY
A gentleman wish to meet you. He’s over there.

PALADIN
Hey boy, tell the gentleman I’ll be happy to make his acquaintance.

HEY BOY
Mr. Paladin be happy to see you, sir.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
Please excuse the formality, Mr. Paladin. Frankly, I wanted to have a talk with you.

PALADIN
By all means. And you pronounce your name…?

ROBERT CEILBLEU
“Ceilbleu.”

PALADIN
Well, Mr. Ceilbleu, I’m at your service.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
Then may I have the pleasure of your company? Will you join me in a late lunch?

PALADIN
I’ll be delighted.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
I took the liberty of ordering Duck a’la Range. I hope you fancy fowl, sir?

PALADIN
The Stockton House is famous for that dish. I look forward to it.

BANDIT
Hold it! In here. Drop your purses.

PALADIN
Well, now you forgot this.

PALADIN
Oh, I’m afraid you’ve lost a lining.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
It’s no matter. It’s easily sewn. There’s $2,000 in this.

PALADIN
To pay for Duck a’ la Range? Remind me never to order that at the Stockton House.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
I have an account there. Shall we? Stewart, Napoleon Brandy, 1851, And warm the glasses, if you please.

STEWART
Very good, sir.

PALADIN
You order an excellent meal.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
Thank you. Now, Mr. Paladin, I wonder if I might see your card?

PALADIN
My card intrigues you?

ROBERT CEILBLEU
That’s one possible way to put it.

PALADIN
You don’t seem surprised.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
From the sheriff promise. From two sulfur miners at Lucifer’s Pit. Florence, California,
the barber. I wonder what the history of this card will be.

PALADIN
At the moment, I’d suspect you know more about that than I do.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
Yes, sir. I want to hire you to try and save a man’s life.

PALADIN
Who’s the man?

ROBERT CEILBLEU
My father.

PALADIN
Now, you said “try.” Is that because you believe I can’t do it?

ROBERT CEILBLEU
The man who wants to kill my father, is the finest soldier in the world.

PALADIN
What’s his name?

ROBERT CEILBLEU
Jotan Etan. The youngest war chief of the Shoshone Comanches.

PALADIN
Well, now I’ve seen you in action. Your capabilities extend far beyond the ability to order a fine meal. It’s your father. Why don’t you fight Jotan Etan?

ROBERT CEILBLEU
I have fought him. He’s stronger than I am.

PALADIN
Why does jotan etan want to kill your father?

ROBERT CEILBLEU
My father will tell you. I offer a rather large sum.

PALADIN
Mm. $2,000.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
You have a good memory.

PALADIN
I seldom forget a face or a sum of money.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
Does my proposition interest you?

PALADIN
It does.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
That’ll be all, Stewart.

STEWART
Yes, sir.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
Someone may try to talk you out of saving my father’s life.

PALADIN
I understand.

ROBERT CEILBLEU
To your very good health, sir.

PALADIN
And yours.

EXT. ON THE TRAIL – DAY

PALADIN
I come as a friend. I’m walking away from you toward the house.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Well, you just keep walking, real friendly-like. Now put your hands on both sides of that door. Now get on in there.

PALADIN
You’re William Ceilbleu?

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
That’s right. You said you come here real friendly-like. You just set down and give me a couple reasons why I should believe that.

PALADIN
Your son hired me to come here.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
John?

PALADIN
Robert. I believe you have only one son.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
That’s right. Spittin’ image of me, ain’t he?

PALADIN
No, on the contrary. He’s taller, darker, and much better looking.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
That’s right. Got better manners, too, huh?

PALADIN
Mm-hm. That is right. Much more education and maybe not as much sense. Sir, I intend no insult, but the difference between you and your son is absolutely astonishing.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Spent every nickel I ever made on his education. Didn’t pay off.

PALADIN
I wouldn’t be too sure. He’s an excellent judge of good brandy.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
You drank with him?

PALADIN
Mm.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Where?

PALADIN
At the Stockton House in San Francisco.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Yeah, that’s funny. Yeah, they, they might serve him there.

PALADIN
Why not?

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
What’s your name, mister?

PALADIN
My name is Paladin.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
But you don’t really know mine.

PALADIN
Ceilbleu. French for “blue skies.” You’re Billy Blue Sky. Scout for the army during the indian campaigns.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
I was a scout, but I ain’t no indian. I lived with ’em for years and fought ’em for years after that.

PALADIN
Your son said you’d tell me the “why.”

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Just what my son pay you to come down here for?

PALADIN
To try and save your life.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
From what?

PALADIN
From a Comanche war chief named Jotan Etan.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
That’s wrong. He’d never do that.

PALADIN

He did.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
I don’t believe you! Stockton house or no place else, is allowed to sell liquor to an Indian.

EXT. TRANSFORMATION

PALADIN
He is your son?

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
That’s right.

PALADIN
And his mother…?

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
I ain’t making no excuses. She was beautiful.

PALADIN
Why did your son come here to kill you and hire me to stop him?

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
I’m Billy Blue Sky. I killed hundreds of Comanche.

PALADIN
That’s not the reason. Why?

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Why? I’m getting sick of that word, “why.” Why don’t you go ask my son?

PALADIN
I will.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
I doubt it. ‘less you can talk to a corpse.

PALADIN
Robert! Robert Ceilbleu?

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
Yes!

PALADIN
I want a parley.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
That seems reasonable enough, sir.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
Jotan Etan will speak with you.

PALADIN
So, Jotan Etan is the stronger?

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
Robert Ceilbleu fought hard. Harder than ever. But in the end, he lost.

PALADIN
You knew he would. Why did you hire me?

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
I didn’t hire you, he did.

PALADIN

Why?

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
I cannot say.

PALADIN
Then, let Robert Ceilbleu say.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
He cannot tell you, either. He is dead.

PALADIN
No, he is not dead.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
Dead!

PALADIN
Dying, perhaps. But not dead. Why did you hire me?

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
My father spoke of my mother?

PALADIN
Only to say that she was beautiful.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
Was. A Comanche woman withers soon when the man she loves spits in her face, and rips her son from her arms.

PALADIN
She’s alive?

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
In me! She died in the raid on the village of Ashiwara. Billy Blue Sky guided that raid.

PALADIN
Leave him. To kill him accomplishes nothing. I’ll return your fee.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
Take the money. Go.

PALADIN
I’m sorry, I can’t. I made a bargain.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
The bargain is off.

PALADIN
No. I did not make the bargain with you. I made it with Robert Ceilbleu.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN

Finish!

PALADIN
Robert?

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
The parley is over. Wait.

PALADIN
Then, according to the custom of your people, I will fight you for your father’s life.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
Now?

PALADIN
Daybreak. How would you fight? Bare-handed? Knives? Knives, then, from daybreak, Wherever we find each other in this forest.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
To the death.

INT. RANCH HOUSE

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
What’d he tell you?

PALADIN
He told me about you. Now, it’s Jotan Etan I have to fight. You tell me about him.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Well, he wasted it all. I gave him every chance I could buy. Gave him everything a white man could ask for. Money, schooling and clothes. I grabbed him out of that swamp. When I got through with him, there wasn’t nobody ever needed to know. He never needed to tell nobody he was an Indian.

PALADIN
But he did. He made a point of telling them.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
That was his mother. She had him too long. Crammed full of Comanche nonsense. I got him too late.

PALADIN
When did he go back to the tribe?

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
I don’t rightly know. I guess maybe inside he never really left. One day I saw him on a sortie. When he saw me, he rode off. Next time he saw me, he give me this.

PALADIN
He wounded you at the village of Ashiwara.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
That’s right. But I swear to you, I didn’t know she was there. When I saw her…

PALADIN
Your wife.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Yeah. That’s right. I ain’t never denied she was my wife. She was dead. I don’t rightly know who shot her. It could’ve been me. Everybody was shooting and…But I swear to you, I never would’ve done it on purpose.

PALADIN
You have any suet here?

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Yeah, right there behind you.

PALADIN
Thank you. I believe you, if it makes any difference.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
It makes a difference.

PALADIN
Not to Jotan Etan.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
No. I always figured he’d come back to give me worse than this.

PALADIN
This is not the best place to hide I can imagine. Here in the woods all by itself, That’s far from help if you need it.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Believe me, Mister. There wouldn’t be no stampede to help Billy Blue Sky. No matter where.

PALADIN
Then you should’ve gone someplace he couldn’t get to you.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Where would that be? You’ve seen him. He can go anyplace. Wild or civilized. Why, he can go anywhere.

PALADIN
And belongs nowhere. Thanks to you.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Look, you’re talking mighty funny for a man that’s supposed to save my life. Now, you think you can?

PALADIN
I already have, until daybreak.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Listen, Mr. Paladin. Helping Billy Blue Sky ain’t gonna make you popular around these parts. And he ain’t asking you for no help.

PALADIN
I leave you here and your life span would be just about one hour.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Yeah, yeah that’s right. The Comanche don’t make a war chief unless the man knows how to make war. But you ain’t gonna get to spend what you earn, ‘less’n you get out of here right now. You don’t really know my son.

PALADIN
Oh, you’re wrong, Billy. It’s you who doesn’t know your son. He’s two people. And that’s a madness that’ll never give him any peace.

PALADIN
It’s gonna be a lovely morning.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Best don’t go out there. My son’ll sure kill you.

PALADIN
I won’t go, if I get the right answers to two questions.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Well, ask ’em.

PALADIN
Is there any chance your son won’t kill you?

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
No. Now, what was your other question?

PALADIN
If you had the chance, Would you kill your son?

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
No. Now, I want to ask you a question. You think you can kill my son?

PALADIN
Maybe.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Will you?

PALADIN
If I can.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Why? It ain’t for what you been paid, it ain’t for me. Now, why?

PALADIN
Because Jotan Etan won’t give me any choice. And I think he wants to die.

EXT. MORNING

PALADIN
Jotan Etan!

Paladin and Jotan Etan fight.

PALADIN
The offer’s still open.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
Call it off…Words, wide eye!

PALADIN
There’s no way I can stop you.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
One way, my friend. Kill me!

PALADIN
Robert.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
Thank you, sir. You earned your fee.

PALADIN
Robert Ceilbleu.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
I die a Comanche.

PALADIN
You always were.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
A little late, it’d say, sir…to learn…

PALADIN
Your father?

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
Not his fault. Nor my mother’s. Mine. Pride or madness. “For if he lived like a madman, at least he died like a wise one.” Do you know it, sir?

PALADIN
Cervantes. Don Quixote’s epitaph.

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
Paladin.

PALADIN
Hm?

ROBERT CEILBLEU/JOTAN ETAN
I die now.

INT. CABIN

PALADIN
Jotan Etan is dead.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
I knew that.

PALADIN
So Billy Blue Sky’s safe from his fellow man.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
So long as he stays away from him.

PALADIN
I’ll go now. I liked your son.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
Which one of ’em?

PALADIN
There was only one. In spite of you.

WILLIAM CEILBLEU/BILLY BLUE SKY
You still don’t know the Comanches.

PALADIN
I knew your son. I buried him out there. I’ll leave you here to bury yourself.

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