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Cole Harden, a wandering cowhand, is brought before Judge Roy Bean on the charge of stealing a horse, a certain death penalty in Bean's court, but Cole cleverly talks himself out of his predicament by pretending to know the idol of Bean's life, British actress Lily Langtry, known as "the Jersey Lily." Bean reverses Cole's death sentence, and the cowboy sets out for California. Along the way, he meets homesteader Caliphet Mathews and his daughter Jane-Ellen and becomes involved in the homesteaders' struggle against the cattle ranchers. This puts him in direct conflict with Bean, who is the law behind the ranchers. When Cole succeeds in convincing the judge to remove the cattle from the homesteaders' land in return for a lock of Lily's hair, it seems that peace will return to the valley. Not to be defeated, the judge and his gang set fire to the homesteaders' fields and trample Mathews to death when he attempts to save his house. Embittered, Jane vows to remain, and Cole rides to Ft. Davis to swear out a warrant on the judge for murder. Despite his status as a wanted murderer, the judge insists on riding to Ft. Davis to see Lily perform. As the lights in the opera house dim, Cole comes for the judge, and the last thing that Bean sees before he dies is his beloved Lily. His job accomplished, Cole returns to Jane and the land.