Another delightful change of pace, focusing on one of the most beloved figures in the Calendar of Saints!
Paladin saves a Native boy from an angry mob of peasant farmers and the grateful lad appoints himself Paladin's personal Guardian Angel, much to the chagrin of Paladin who (correctly as usual) suspects that the boy is anything but "angelic". .
Paladin, arriving at the century-old Franciscan mission of San Luis Rey (no "Bridges" involved here, thankfully) is in quest of an exquisite brandy apparently so rare only one bottle still exists The Franciscan Father in charge of the Mission is the custodian of that bottle, and seeks the return of a stolen statue depicting St Francis, founder of the Order and know for his love of all animate and inanimate Creation. A bargain is immediately struck.
Paladin's "angel" hints that the statue now resides in a distant town A tavern owner there bought it in the belief it was a valuable idol salvaged from a Pagan ruin and won't give it up. And a trio of devout local ladies is determined to keep the statue enshrined in their town.
Paladin's self-styled "angel" is persuaded to create a distraction so Paladin can spirit St Francis back to the Mission. But Paladin soon finds himself, and St Francis, at the head of a group of "pilgrims" that includes one very resourceful Native boy, three pious ladies, a band of Shoshone intent on recovering a stolen horse, and the tavern owner along with his own motley collection of hangers-on.
The Franciscan Father proves to be a man of his word -- but Paladin clearly didn't count on St Francis' sense of humour!
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