The elderly derelicts in the sleepy Louisiana settlement of La Belle Commune are leading the good life, lazing in the hot sun. Until Bushwhack Jack Breaker rides in from Texas with his outlaw band, and everything changes. Ex-bounty-hunter Paladin awakes to find eccentric marshal, Brad Corrigan, has been forcibly taken, along with saloonist Rik Paulson and storekeeper Alec Mackie - but where, and why? The elegant widow Emma Bowman-Laing knows where, but Paladin and crippled wrangler Shorty Long fail in their rescue bid and Bowman-Laing's crumbling antebellum mansion goes up in flames. With rumours of a horde of gold coming across the sea by ketch, and flashy Mexican killer Guillermo Rodriguez brandishing his six-gun, Paladin slips reluctantly into his old bounty-hunting ways. His search for truth and justice takes him deep into Texas, but it is in La Belle Commune that everything is resolved in a bloody fight in the saloon, and brought to a fatal close in the waters of Petit Creek.