Bob acknowledges that the moment Shane, his mother, and father shared in the kitchen went way over his head. He trusts that everything will be okay just like his father said. Fletcher's men leave them alone, and Fletcher himself takes off for a stint of time. However, Shane and Joe are even more watchful than they were before. Bob does not understand what they are worried about, and he asks if the ordeal with Fletcher is over. Shane responds that it has "only begun." Joe agrees and goes on to say that Fletcher cannot back down now and that he is undoubtedly planning something. Marian agrees and asks if there is going to be more fighting. Joe says that there will not be any more fights like the one they had at the bar but perhaps something more "final." Shane remarks that he does not like waiting to find out what is going to happen and wishes that he knew.
The next night Fletcher comes into town accompanied by a stranger who wears two holsters and looks like a gunmen. His name is Stark Wilson. The bartender recognizes his name and refers to him as "a killer," telling them that he has a reputation as a quick draw and as an extremely dangerous man. Joe and Shane do not find out about Wilson until the next day, and Shane explodes with anger, telling their neighbor that he should have reported the news earlier. Shane immediately asks who in town is easiest to goad into getting angry. Joe answers that a man named Ernie Wright is a hothead. He wants to leave to warn people about Wilson, but they hear a horse combing up the road. Another one of the homesteaders remarks that Ernie has been shot.
One of the neighbors explains that Fletcher has goaded Ernie into getting angry by offering him a nominal sum of money for his land. Ernie refused to sell, and, after Wilson called him a half-breed, got into a yelling match with the Wilson, after which he was killed by Wilson.
After hearing the story, Joe says that they have to face Fletcher and Wilson. Shane predicts that they will go after Joe since Joe is the leader of the farmers and wiping Joe out would help Fletcher gain a lot of power. Shane predicts that Fletcher will take Ernie's place and then will decide whether or not to approach Joe based on how he thinks Joe will react. Shane warns Joe that Fletcher will devise a scenario in which to cause a confrontation between Joe and Wilson. The other men leave the house, too scared to deal with Fletcher. Marian wants Joe to avoid the fight at all costs, but he tells her he cannot do that. Joe then says that he feels guilty about what the situation is doing to Shane, and, had he anticipated it, he would never have asked Shane to stay. Joe says he would consider selling his land to Fletcher and getting out of there if only to assure Shane's safety and peace of mind. Bob and Marian both say that Shane would never forgive them for selling out and leaving, no matter what.
They attend Ernie's funeral, and Shane remarks that Joe made a great speech there. Shane predicts that some day Joe will be mayor. During the conversation they hear the sound of horses in the yard. Fletcher, Wilson, and two cowboys ride up, and Joe gets his gun. Fletcher has a proposition for Joe—he says that Joe and Shane are useful men and that he would like them both to work for him. Fletcher says that they can stay, but the rest of the homesteaders would have to leave. Joe says no, and Fletcher says he'll give Joe 1,000 dollars. Joe still says no. Fletcher says that he will wait for Joe at the bar, giving him time to make the right decision. As he leaves, Fletcher says, "Yes, Starrett. Think it over. You wouldn't like someone else to be enjoying this place of yours—and that woman there in the window." Joe gets angry and grips his rifle, but Shane stops him and tells Wilson that without the guns, Wilson is not much of a man. Wilson gets angry and looks to fight, but Wilson stops when he sees that Shane does not have a gun. Wilson and Fletcher leave, and Marian tells Joe and Shane that they are crazy and overreacted to what Fletcher said about her. Joe replies, "What better reason could a man have?" and Shane agrees.
After the beating, Shane and Joe gave Fletcher's men, they all know that this time they are playing for keeps. There will be no more beating each other up—the next person to lose a fight will most likely die. The anticipation and anxiety that come with waiting to see what Fletcher's next move will be hard on Shane and Joe. The acquisition of Stark Wilson puts Fletcher on even footing with Joe and Shane. Shane's biggest advantage now is having been through situations like this before and having some idea what to expect. He correctly predicts that Fletcher will pick on the person with the hottest temper, and that is exactly what happens to Ernie. Shane knows that Fletcher will use any excuse he gets to tell Wilson to fire away. The other farmers are too scared to help Joe and Shane; they know they only have each other now.
Fletcher goes to them and surprisingly offers to hire them. This request reveals that even though Fletcher has paired up with Stark Wilson he would still rather avoid getting into an altercation with Joe and Shane. By praising them and telling them he wants them on his side, Fletcher tries to butter them up and resolve the situation in a way that is beneficial for him. Even though the other homesteaders refuse to stand by Joe, Joe will not sell them out. When Fletcher tells him that he and Shane would be the only ones allowed to stay, Joe declines the offer. The situation does not become volatile until Fletcher makes a comment about Marian. This is his attempt to goad either Shane or Joe into doing or saying something that could prompt Wilson to use the gun. It is unclear whether Fletcher knows about Shane and Marian's feelings for one another, but his decision to use her as the device to anger Joe and Shane is uncanny. It works—both Joe and Shane get angry, but Shane is more in-tune to what Fletcher is trying to do. He steps in, preventing Joe from making a move toward his gun. If Joe appears to grab for the rifle, then Wilson can shoot and claim self-defense. Shane does not want to give them any reason to attack, and he makes sure Wilson realizes that he does not have a gun.
Marian is upset that the situation nearly became volatile and deadly because of a comment about her. Perhaps that is the single thing that could make both of the men so angry, and they acknowledge it. Once again, both of their feelings for her are clear, and they both demonstrate their willingness to defend her. The three continue functioning as a unit, becoming more and more bound to each other. They both want to make it clear that they will protect her and that she should not have to worry about herself or the situation.
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