Hey Boy is back to his old habit of reading Paladin's mail. The current installment is startling enough to send him rushing to Paladin's suite, muttering to himself in Chinese. One might assume that the young lady he passed in the hall had just left Paladin, because why else would Paladin be slouching on the threshold of his suite? Paladin is intrigued by the badly written letter asking him to come and "learn" Henry Grey to shoot. (Not to mention the promise of big money if he does so.) Hey Boy queries him in Chinese--presumably asking if he should prepare Paladin's saddlebags--and receives an affirmative.
The outdoor scenery, as usual, is breathtaking. Henry Grey seems to be doing well for himself on his farm; the house is quite sizeable, with two floors. Henry's nowhere to be seen, however. A stern-faced woman comes out and confronts Paladin. One gets the impression that if this show had been shot in color, she would have been just as plain grey. She informs Paladin in no uncertain terms that she is Henry's mother. As Paladin has no intention of discussing his business arrangements with her, she seeks to thwart him as best she can. Henry is out doing his chores. He'll be chopping wood at four o'clock, after which he'll have other chores to do. Supper is at six, and over at six fifteen (Paladin, who savors his victuals, was probably horrified) after which Henry might have time...she looks quite startled at the sound of chopping wood. Perhaps it's later in the afternoon than she thought, or else Henry had finished up his other chores. Paladin walks around to the side of the house.
Henry is ready to drop his ax and commence learnin' to shoot. He has a brand-new gun for the purpose, which he promptly fumbles and drops. Paladin keeps his face pretty well in order, and inquires about the circumstances. Henry had paid out a good deal of cash (two hundred and seventy two dollars and sixty-six cents, to be precise) to obtain a mail-order bride, who, after only three days, walked over to the neighboring farm and took up with Rud Saxon. Henry wants his money back, and is willing to give Paladin half of it if he can help. Paladin refrains from mentioning that his idea of "big money" and Henry's are considerably different. Mrs. Grey throws in her two cents at this point, yelling that God was punishing Henry for buying a woman sight unseen. For his part, Henry can't understand why God would want him to spend his savings to buy a bride for someone else, and Paladin has to agree. Rather than trying to teach the fumble-fingered bridegroom how to shoot, however, he suggests that he himself should visit Saxon and ask for the money back.
Rud Saxon's place is a little unusual, if it is indeed his place. It looks more like a community hall, quite an enormous building. Paladin arrives just as a wagon with supplies pulls up. Everyone in the vicinity comes running happily to assist in unloading, including an exotic-looking young woman who dances out to the wagon, collects a jug, and dances back in again. Paladin looks quite impressed as he jumps up the steps after her. The girl begins singing in Greek. She is stunned and delighted to find that Paladin speaks Greek (the man must have a remarkable ear for languages). Rud Saxon is standing on the floor above them, looking down into the hall. The girl, called Callie rather than the more difficult Kalliope, asks Paladin to translate as she sings to Rud. Rud, however, is not interested in the slightest; he wants to know what Paladin is doing there. Upon hearing Paladin's request for Henry's refund, he bursts out laughing, as does Callie. She sobers a little as Paladin looks at her sternly. Paladin suggests that it is quite reasonable that Henry get his money back, and tells Callie that she stripped Henry of his pride. Callie is offended at the notion that she would do such a thing, but Paladin spells it out for her. Callie realizes that he's right, but she did not mean to do it. She was raised to be a good wife to her husband--but she was also born to be free-spirited and joyful, and three days with the grey Greys and their rigid routine was all she could stand. She does concede that Rud should be the one to pay her expenses. Rud does not agree, and Paladin suggests that he has no intention of marrying her. Callie angrily makes it clear that being free-spirited does not make her a loose woman. Looking rather amused, Rud pulls a roll of bills from his pocket and tosses them down on the floor. Paladin's eyes flash with outrage. It's hard to say if he was reacting to the insult of having to grope on the floor, or if he thought Rud was planning to go for him when he was leaning over and off balance. Callie eyes his hand, hovering near his gun, and picks up the money herself, handing it to him. She mentions, almost as an afterthought, that Henry is a good man. It's clear that it's Henry's mother that was stifling her.
Back at the Grey place, sometime after their fifteen minute meal, all three sit out on the porch in the evening air. Mrs. Grey is reading, presumably the Bible. (Her lips move as she reads.) Henry just sits, staring at nothing, as the sounds of music and laughter drift over from Saxon's hall. Paladin comments that Callie would never fit in with their household routine. Mrs. Grey placidly states that their way is the proper way. Paladin, watching Henry, agrees that it's probably the right way--if it makes them happy. Henry should get himself a quiet, docile girl who will fit into their routine. Mrs. Grey nods in agreement. He abruptly switches subjects, quoting Tennyson, that a man "who shuts out love, in turn shall be shut out from love". Mrs. Grey gives him an odd look, and announces that it's bedtime (presumably because it is now too dark to read). Paladin will have to sleep outside; in that large two-storied house, they only have two beds. Paladin suggests that he and Henry stretch their legs a bit, but Mrs. Grey sternly calls her son to heel.
Some time later, Paladin awakens from a doze, grabs for his gun, and spins to confront Henry on the porch, dressed up in his Sunday go-to-meeting clothes (which look a shade small for him). Paladin is furious at the close call, but Henry hushes him and quickly heads for the horses, leaving Paladin to wonder why Henry is carrying his gun. They arrive at the hall, but Henry is unnerved by all the noise and gaiety inside. Paladin offers him his flask (which we've never seen before). Henry unhesitatingly takes a gulp, then starts wheezing as Paladin shoves him through the door. The group inside has been dancing some sort of set dance. Callie stands out from the rest in her festive Greek attire. Interestingly, she was not dancing with with Rud, but with an older gentleman. He suggests that she might want to dance Greek, now, and she agrees, since he has been teaching her American dancing. At least one of the musicians is familiar with Greek music. Callie begins to sing as she slowly sways about the floor. Paladin translates the love song to Henry, who is gaping at his erstwhile bride. He quickly decides that he has to have her back. Callie, meanwhile, urges everyone onto the floor as the music speeds up. Paladin offers Henry his flask again, but Henry is not a drinking man. On the other hand...Rud spots Henry by the door, gulping from the flask, and loudly calls attention to him, making everyone laugh. Callie laughs as loudly as the rest, but stops abruptly, realizing that she is once again taking Henry's pride away. She starts to move in his direction, but Rud suddenly jumps in and demands to dance.
Henry is humiliated by the laughter, and besides, that dancing just isn't manly. Paladin proposes to show him otherwise, handing him his flask and gunbelt before walking onto the floor and asking Rud if he might cut in. Rather surprisingly, Rud does not object, although I imagine he quickly regretted doing so. This next part was marvelous to watch. Richard Boone was an experienced dancer, even if he wasn't a pro. His posture and the expression in his eyes told Callie that he knew how to dance Greek. They shuffled up to each other in a rapid-fire quickstep, then began a slow, graceful, matched stepping. Paladin pulled a handkerchief out of nowhere and twisted it up, and Callie took hold of it. As she spun around at the end of the handkerchief, Paladin beckoned to Henry, who finished off the flask, and, staggering a bit, came and took the handkerchief. It took several moments for Callie to realize the switch in partners. They stood looking at each other, then Henry let out a proper Western yee-hah and grabbed her. Callie looked quite pleased. The onlookers, with the exception of Jud, also look pleased. Paladin, naturally, is also pleased. Everying comes to a dead halt, however, as Mrs. Grey marches into the hall, looking like Death at the feast. Henry has been making a fool of himself, and it's time to come home. Both Callie and Paladin look at Henry rather anxiously. Henry gathers himself up and tells his mother to go home. Looking shocked and deflated, Mrs. Grey slowly turns away. At this point, Paladin shows what a hero he is. Up to now, Mrs. Grey has been seen as one of the villains of the piece, a stern, cold, bossy woman. But Paladin has seen more. He sees a lonely, frightened widow, clinging to the one thing she has left to her, and seeking security in a rigid routine. Paladin gently points out that her life is not over yet, that she needs to let her son go to live his own life--hopefully with Callie at his side.
Henry leaps back into the spirit of the thing, loudly proclaiming his feelings for Callie. He's prepared to live with her in town, rather than his farm, and she won't have to do any work. Callie protests this. She is not afraid of hard work. Rud, however, has other ideas, and prepares to face off with the inexperienced, first-time drunk. Henry is perfectly willing to comply, but the flesh is weak; he slowly passes out on the floor. Callie springs to his side. Rud starts toward them, and Paladin, divining his intentions, dives at him and knocks him flying. He bumps into two other men, who of course take this as reason enough to start hitting each other. Callie, seated beside her unconcious bridegroom, seems delighted with the chaos breaking out. Paladin quickly puts Rud down and out, and deals with an Indian who decided to jump into the fray. The resulting crash quieted things down, which, considering the size of the crowd, was a very good thing. Callie is impressed with Paladin's prowess. He asks her to make her choice of the two unconcious bodies between them. Callie is sincerely sorry for Rud's loss. On the other hand, she has many other sisters, which she will arrange to bring to the area. Paladin bursts out laughing and hands her his card (well, they had to make some excuse for the card's mandatory appearance). He heaves Henry onto his shoulder and exits, with the laughing Callie in tow. One can imagine that, in a few years, there will be a thriving Greek-American community here.
A joyous, life-affirming episode.