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After an arson fire destroys a farmer's house and barn, the other farmers meet to discuss efforts by hotel owner McNeil to drive them off their land. Meanwhile, at the hotel in nearby Prairie City, McNeil tells gunfighter Johnny Crale that the farmers are squatters who refuse to leave even though he has offered to pay for the land. McNeil now wants Crale to drive them away. Soon after farmer José Mirada shows his neighbor, Swedish-born Sven Hansen, that there is oil on their land, Crale arrives. Urging Mirada and his son Pepe to hide in a nearby shed, Hansen, armed with a whale harpoon, speaks with Crale. Crale asks him to transfer his land grant to McNeil, and when Hansen refuses, kills him. Mirada intends to tell the others about the oil discovery and Crale's murder of Hansen, but his wife Rosa begs him to remain silent. Some time later, Hansen's son George arrives in Prairie City, but when he asks about transportation to the Hansen farm, Crale reveals that his father has been killed. George, who had gone to sea to help pay for the farm, then asks the sheriff what is being done to catch his father's killer. The sheriff, who is one of McNeil's men, informs George that his father did not own the land, and that he will arrest him if he trespasses on the farm. George agrees to stay in the hotel, but adds that although he is a foreigner, he understands justice and will get it. After George turns down his offer to buy the land, McNeil orders Crale to get rid of him by any means short of murder. Despite the sheriff's warning, George visits the farm and talks to Mirada, who pretends to know nothing. He then gives George his father's harpoon. While they talk, Crale and his men arrive and order the Miradas to leave town. When George wonders why McNeil wants the land, Mirada again keeps silent. Later, in the hotel saloon, George offers a drink to Molly, Crale's wife, and then questions her. Although Molly reveals nothing, Hansen deduces that Crale murdered his father. Moments later, Crale and his men beat George and put him, unconscious, on a train. When George regains consciousness, he struggles back toward town. The Miradas take him in, and this time, Rosa tells him about the oil. After George informs the sheriff that there was a witness to his father's murder, Crale kills Mirada. Believing Crale's work to be done, McNeil pays him, but Crale, who was deeply affected by the courage with which Mirada faced death, turns on McNeil and kills him. When George learns of Mirada's murder, he takes his father's harpoon and heads for a showdown with Crale. Meanwhile, Molly decides to leave Crale. She interrupts a farmers' meeting at the church to tell them that George intends to face Crale with the harpoon as his only weapon. While the farmers watch, Crale shoots and wounds George, but the Swede kills Crale with the harpoon.