Another minor gem here, with unique, engaging characters and an well-constructed plot!
Deep in Paiute country Paladin is ambushed by a rifle toting girl named Amanda. She needs water -- and she's looking for her Father, who in turn is looking for a fabulous silver mine he was once led to, blindfolded, by an old Paiute Chief. Her Father, who goes by the name of Crowbait, is convinced Mandy won't get a husband unless she brings along a sizable dowry. But Mandy would prefer a live Father to all of the silver in the world.
Paladin gets the job of tracking down Crowbait and bringing him back. Mandy gives Paladin her bandanna to prove that she sent him after Crowbait.
Clues may be sketchy but Paladin soon runs into Crowbait, a crusty, cantankerous old Desert Rat who agrees to let Paladin accompany him to the mine he believes is nearby -- probably in the hope of using Paladin eventually as a pack mule -- warning Paladin that any shady move will be his last. Crowbait's prepared to collect a heap of silver: he's brought fulminate of mercury, a compound almost as unstable as nitroglycerin!
Blindfolded by Mandy's bandanna, Crowbait literally feels his way to the mine. The skeleton guarding the entrance is discouraging, but Crowbait is convinced his fortune --and Mandy's -- are finally within reach. But the Paiutes who've been shadowing the pair now make an appearance. And Paladin realizes what their true aim has been all along.
In the end the Paiutes have at least one less thing to worry about. And a thankful Amanda, fortunately, seems to have no need for any "dowry"!
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