powered by AFI
On a quest to bring fugitive Roberto Kallen to trial for murder, Chris Hamish, the deputy sheriff of Scottsville, Texas, crosses the border into Mexico where Kallen, a Mexican-American, has sought refuge. When Hamish questions Father Ignacio, the village priest, about the fugitive, the priest tells him that Kallen has defiled his young cousin Elena and offers to lead him to Kallen. The wily Kallen cordially welcomes the two to his cabin, but when Kallen pulls his gun, the priest steps in front of the weapon and disarms him. After Hamish arrests him, Kallen, sensing the deputy's fear and weakness, assures Elena that he will soon return. As they begin the long ride back to Texas, the self-assured Kallen challenges Hamish's abilities. After they set up camp for the evening, Elena, who has followed them, appears, but Kallen orders her to return home the next morning. When Elena stubbornly dogs them to the border, Kallen asks the border guard to restrain her from crossing. Upon crossing the border, Hamish and Kallen encounter a band of drunken Apaches, and later, Kallen asserts that he killed in self-defense. The next morning, Kallen and Hamish see a ranch in the distance. Upon entering the house, they discover the family has been slaughtered by the Indians. Moved, Kallen tenderly embraces the lifeless body of a small girl and then proceeds to bury the family, placing a rag doll on the little girl's grave. Fired upon by the marauding Apaches, Kallen and Hamish seek refuge in the cabin, their horses having been frightened off by the gunfire. As night falls, Kallen taunts Hamish about his cowardice and his incompetence in handling a gun. When Kallen's horse returns, Kallen pulls the animal into the cabin and then jumps Hamish. After recovering his gun, Hamish vows to bring Kallen back for trial. The next morning, Kallen spots a little girl running for her life. After catching her, he discovers that she is the twin of the dead girl and, realizing she has been rendered mute from fear, gently tries to reassure her. After hitching the horse to a buckboard, Kallen and Hamish put the girl in the back and then gallop off, dodging Indian bullets. While Kallen soothingly coaxes the girl to eat, Hamish treats her with impatience. When the horse begins to limp, they are forced to abandon the wagon and proceed on foot. While camped around the fire that night, Hamish promises Kallen a fair trial and Kallen then confides his dreams of settling down with Elena. When Kallen asks Hamish why he is so determined to bring him back, Hamish confesses that he has been a failure his entire life and that bringing Kallen to trial is his only chance at redemption. After Hamish falls asleep, Kallen instructs the girl to steal his gun. Awakening suddenly, Hamish gruffly slaps the little girl and snatches back his gun. The next day, Hamish insists upon taking a shortcut through the open countryside. When a roving band of Apaches fires on them and wounds Hamish, the lawman is forced to turn his gun over to Kallen for protection. Scaling the hills, Kallen shoots two of the Indians and drives off the others. Seizing the opportunity to flee back to Mexico, Kallen mounts his horse and rides away, the little girl gazing forlornly after him. She then gingerly approaches the wounded lawman, touches his hand and begins to cry. A short time later, Kallen returns, helps Hamish climb onto his horse and leads him and the girl to town.