In San Francisco, Paladin is winding down from a two-month job by partying and drinking. A woman, Adella, comes in and views the scene with disgust. Hey Boy explains the situation and how Paladin likes to relax in evil company, and Adella tips Hey Boy to let Paladin know that she has a job for him. When Paladin comes over, she takes him to the lobby and explains that she's a nurse and her brother is a minister. She wants Paladin to escort her to Goldfield, NV, where there was a recent mine accident. The town recently lost its doctor and Adella wishes to set up shop there, even though they don't want a nurse. When Paladin wonders why she wants to offer her services to people who have made clear they don't want them, Adella explains that she trained to tend to the ill and she wants to use her skill to help. Paladin agrees after he's had a day's rest, but Adella negotiates him into leaving immediately.
After they ride through the day, Paladin suggests that they make camp for the night. Adella wants to press on, seemingly concerned about spending the night in camp with a strange man. Paladin assures her that he doesn't find her arousing and that, even if he did, he's too tired to do anything. Adella reluctantly agrees to stop and they spot a nearby campfire. She insists on going to see if anyone needs help and Paladin reluctantly accompanies her.
Two prospectors, Deke and Reamer, are finishing a stone cairn. Deke welcomes them and tells Reamer to offer Adella some water, and Adella offers to share their own supplies. Reamer, seemingly starved, goes over to the saddlebags while Deke explains that they're burying their partner, Lucifer Blake. Deke claims that Indians raided their camp and shot Lucifer in the back. When Paladin points out that the discarded jacket is intact, Deke says that it was noon when the Indians attacked and Lucifer wasn't wearing his jacket. Adella, angry at Paladin's suspicious nature, tells him to wait until they've fed the prospectors before questioning them. Undeterred, Paladin asks why they waited until sunset to bury Lucifer and Deke says that their partner took a while dying, and it took even longer to bury him.
Once Deke confirms that Paladin isn't a lawman, he wishes that they had one so that someone could take Lucifer's papers to the next town. Paladin offers to do it for them and send someone back to collect the body, and Deke takes offenses. He insists that they've done nothing wrong and wonders if Paladin is accusing them of murder. Reamer speaks up, ready to fight Paladin for his implied accusation, and Adella defends the man because of how he's starved. The younger prospector assures her that he's fine and demands that Paladin apologize. Paladin refuses and says that he hopes that he's wrong. However, he's glad to have the law hang them if he's right.
As Paladin goes to his horse, Reamer comes at him with a knife. Anticipating the attack, Paladin spins and shoots him in the leg. He then tosses Adella her doctor's bag, pointing out that the man was ready to stab him in the back. Adella still holds Paladin responsible and tends to Reamer's wound, while Deke backhandedly defends Paladin, saying that evil men suspect evil of others.
As Paladin makes camp for the night, Deke keeps talking about Adella's Christian kindness. Unimpressed, Paladin asks to see the arrow that killed their partner and Deke insists that they buried it with him rather than pull it out. The older prospector goes for his gun but Paladin is ready for him. Adella complain that they're both trying to prove their manhood with their weapons, and Deke taunts Paladin about how nervous he is. He then lies down and goes to sleep.
Reamer offers to escort Adella the rest of the way so that she can be well rid of Paladin. She gently declines, saying that Paladin can't help being a violent man because of his life of violence. Reamer rambles on about how his mother kicked him out of the house and that Deke has raised him ever since. Paladin finally has enough and repeats his request to Deke to see the arrow. Deke gives up trying to sleep and goes over to the cairn to start digging. Meanwhile, Reamer asks for snow water and when Adella goes to get some, he slips a knife out of her bag.
As they dig, Deke asks Paladin what happens if there is no arrow, and wonders if Paladin might leap to conclusions. Paladin draws his revolver and tells the prospector to keep digging, and Reamer grabs Adella and takes her hostage with the knife. Deke attacks Paladin, who soon beats him. However, Reamer tells the gunfighter to surrender. Deke still insists that he's innocent and he's just sick of being treated like he's guilty, and Reamer tells Paladin that they're going to ride off before the authorities arrive and think the same thing that Paladin is.
As Deke and Reamer take their horses, Reamer wonders what to do about Della. Deke says that they'll leave her behind because they need to travel light, and Paladin asks if they'll send someone back for them. Deke draws his gun and prepares to shoot, and Paladin draws his hidden derringer and kills the man. He then takes the knife from Reamer at gunpoint and gives it to Adella, who is shocked at the sudden violence. Reamer begs Adella to save him, but she refuses to let the young man take advantage of her natural sympathy. As Paladin ties Reamer to his horse, Adella wonders if the gunfighter still thinks that she should stop helping people who don't want it. Paladin points out that Goldfield still doesn't have a doctor and tells Adella that it's not too late tomorrow to be brave, and they ride off.