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John R. Ingram, a fugitive from justice, has built a new life as a family man and an expert at extinguishing oil well fires. After years of fighting well fires with his friend, Moose McCarthy, John finally saves enough money to sink a well of his own. John returns home one day to find William Ramey, a former shipmate who knows that he escaped from a chain gang after being convicted of stealing money from the ship's purser. Ramey admits to stealing the money himself and offers to confess in exchange for $25,000, to be secured by a note on the well. Blinded by the promise of clearing his name, John consents to Ramey's terms, but the wiley Ramey tricks him and, after obtaining the signed note to the well, informs the police that John is a wanted man. John is arrested and, after his appeal is denied, is sent back to the chain gang in Georgia. Although imprisoned by the sadistic system of the chain gang and robbed of his family and home, John remains determined to serve his time until he learns that his wife and son have been driven to poverty while Ramey grows rich on the profits of the well. John suffers a series of brutal punishments, but his vow of revenge does not dim, and when he reads that Ramey is planning to sell the well for a fortune, he smashes free from captivity and eludes a cross country pursuit to return home to Oklahoma. Realizing that his only hope lies in forcing a confession from Ramey, John sets fire to the well to lure Ramey back to Oklahoma. After trapping Ramey on the brim of the blazing well, John forces him to confess all, thus winning back his family, his freedom and his well.