Anne Marie: Please. Mister. Paladin.
(Paladin angrily steps out from behind a curtain.)
Paladin: Wagner, I told you that I am leaving for...Denver in the morning. (Kneels in front of the child.) No holds barred, eh?
Wagner: Looking at Anne Marie, you can see she has a problem. Well, she wasn't born that way. And if you and I had witnessed what my grandchild did, our memories might have gone into hiding, too. It was two years ago this April. They were crossing the plains with a wagon train, my son, his wife and...Anne Marie. Just outside of Big Lick, Colorado, their camp was set upon. The child managed to hide in the bushes. She was the sole survivor. That raid, Mr. Paladin, was led by a white man. A red-bearded white man named Rusty Doggett.
Wagner: Turn around, honey. Look at her back! It wasn't only her mind that he left his signature on. Well, Mr. Paladin? Is it still Denver in the morning?
(Paladin examines a horse's saddle; it has the initials "R.D." embossed on it.)
Burchfield: You interested in purchasing yonder equine, old sport?
Paladin: I might be, where's the owner?
Burchfield: By happy coincidence, you are now addressing him. Dallas Burchfield at your service, sir.
Paladin: Mister, don't play with me. I left my sense of humor back in San Francisco, now where's Doggett!
Burchfield: (Indicating the woman preparing to shave him) Old sport, let me tell you something about Cayatana here. With that same right hand and a much duller instrument I can assure you she very neatly decapitated her father. Sooner than see one hair on my head disturbed, she would gladly lay down her miserable life. If I'm to court extinction or the Judas kiss, I think it's only equitable that I should, um....
Paladin: How much?
Burchfield: In the uptown express offices, holding in my name a case of vintage Amontillado. Which thus far I've been unable to ransom. I, uh, oh, I think two hundred dollars would just about cover it. (Paladin hands over the money) You observe the saloon across the street? Upstairs, turn to your right, last door on your left. I shouldn't knock if I were you.
Paladin: How'd I get here?
Burchfield: Believe it or not, I won you, in a raffle. (Snickers)
Burchfield: Yes, with the understanding that if you died, I would inheirit all your effects; I've already stabled your horse.
Paladin: Meantime, Doggett will have had time to put a hundred miles between him and me.
Burchfield: Relax, old sport. Doggett is still below the deadline. While he remains below the deadline, you are out of luck.
Paladin: Deadline? You trying to tell me he's still here?
Burchfield: Yes, here. Here where the line between respectability and sin is tangibly drawn. So that there's no risk of one contaminating the other. In fact, in most communitites, it's invisible.
Teague: I thought we got all the fun out of you we could, but it looks like I'm wrong.
Paladin: Who are you?
Teague: Teague. You call me Mister.
Paladin: Well, you know why I'm here, I came for Rusty Doggett.
Teague: Oh, he's an outlaw. Entitled to asylum, just like me. There are only two sides to the deadline.
Paladin: If I can prove to you there's a third side. Men who have forfeited their membership in the human race altogether.
Burchfield: Mr. Paladin has an orator's gift of persuasive eloquence. I wonder...I wonder, Mr. Teague, if, uh, he would be willing to wager his life on it?
Paladin: Isn't that exactly what I'm doing?
Burchfield: Really? I'm sure that this audacious display of courage is prompted at least partially by your inner conviction that Mr. Teague here, whatever his reputation, would never shoot an unarmed man. Just isn't good form, you know?
Teague: Keep talking, Burchfield. What's your point?
Burchfield: Well. Suppose you offer Mr. Paladin a choice, Teague. He can leave here now, unmolested, or he can stay, and plead his case before a jury of your selection. Knowing that if he loses, he'll be dangling from a gallows this time tomorrow.
Teague: Burchfield. Why, Burchfield!
Paladin: Ladies and gentlemen. This town was founded as a refuge for lawbreakers and social pariah. I'm not going to contest the morality of that situation. But I do inquire, just how elastic are your standards of admission: Would you, for example, admit Judas Iscariot to this fold?
Teague: You comparing Doggett to Judas?
Paladin: I am saying that there are men whose crimes transcend the statute books. Festering sores on the face of humanity.
Burchfield: Your Honor! As council for the defense, I must take exception to such remarks. Mr. Paladin is attempting to villify the character of my distinguished client here. And at the same time, portraying himself as a man of fearless dedication, concerned only with seeing justice done. Now, nothing could be further from the truth. May I present Exhibit A? (Passes Paladin's card to the jury) Mr. Paladin is a gun for hire, available to anyone capable of paying his princely fee. In the parlance of the West, he is that lowliest of mercenaries, a bounty hunter.
Paladin: Your Honor, for the record, I am not asking one dime for my fee.
Burchfield: Indeed? You'd have us believe that this is an act of selfless altruism?
Paladin Altruism, no! Vengeance!
Burchfield: Vengeance! Hah! The battle cry of the lynch mob! Judge and executioner, neatly tied up in one self-righteous little package!
Paladin: I am risking my life for vengeance, Burchfield. What are you risking?
Paladin: There isn't one person in this room who cares what happens to Doggett! No, you're all too much concerned with striking back at that society that you hold responsible for condemning you to this stinking garbage heap.
Burchfield: I am here by preference.
Paladin: You are here because you belong here. The only difference between you and your client is that you have murdered no one but yourself. A piddling misdemeanor, when one considers the pitiful, pathetic insignificance of the victim. (Burchfield throws his drink in Paladin's face and leaps to his feet, clutching his stick.) Vengeance, old sport? Well, go ahead. Go ahead. It's on the house. (Burchfield slowly sinks into his chair and begins to weep.) Oh, what a nuisance is the conscience. That demonic instrument of torture forged out of the human soul.
Paladin: ...Furthermore, not content with killing men and women, he took the life...of a child. A pre-adolescent girl.
Doggett: There! That proves he's lyin'. Why, everybody knows that kid escaped!
Paladin: It's true. The child did not die. But I didn't mention death. I said her life was taken away. Now, it may be given back to her yet. But at present, her fragile child's mind resides behind a deadline far more destructive than yours.
Doggett: Words, words, words! Where is the evidence? Where's the proof?
Teague: He's right, Paladin. You didn't bring any proof. Only second-hand accusations.
Paladin: Proof? Proof! Use your eyes. The truth is written in his face!
Teague; You can't hang a man for being ugly. You knew the terms when you agreed to this. Either you convince us without a doubt, or....
Paladin: Until this moment, I had thought, that within the worst of you, there was a spark of human decency. I was mistaken. As of this evening, you dishonor all mankind.
Teague: You finished? Well, I see no reason for the jury to go out and return with a verdict. Unless Council for Defense has something to say.
Burchfield: Yes. Yes, I do want to say something. Earlier, Mr. Paladin accused me of murdering myself. I see now that that's true. I have a proposal to make. During the war, it was, uh, permissable for one man to serve another's military hitch. And while I am ill-fitted for the, uh, rigors of mortal combat, I feel, now, that perhaps I am equal to the, uh, supreme sacrifice, as they say. So, your Honor, since the citizens of this fine community are bent on having a hanging, I would like to offer myself in Mr. Paladin's stead.
Doggett: Why, you mealymouthed tinhorn, what are you trying to pull?
Burchfield: I'm booking my passage out of Hell, Mr. Doggett. It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here. Not with filth like you.
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