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In the 1880's, Guthrie McCabe, a cynical, mercenary Texas marshal, is asked to join cavalry officer Jim Gary in rescuing some white prisoners long held captive by the Comanches. McCabe is reluctant to accept but allows himself to be persuaded by a combination of Army pressure, the offer of a salary, the promise of a fee for each captive returned, and the opportunity to take a vacation from Belle Aragon, a saloon owner who has marriage on her mind. In exchange for two rifles, McCabe and Gary obtain the release of Running Wolf, a white boy raised as an Indian, and Elena, a young Mexican woman who has been forced to become the squaw of Comanche warrior Stone Calf. As the little group leaves the Indian camp, Stone Calf tries to reclaim his woman, and McCabe kills him. Back at the fort, none of the families who anxiously awaited the return of their relatives recognize Running Wolf, and he is claimed only by the mentally deranged Mrs. McCandless, who insists the wild boy is her son. However, as she frees him of his bonds, he murders her. The inflamed settlers capture and lynch the youth, but before he dies it is discovered that he is actually the brother of Marty Purcell, a young settler with whom Gary has fallen in love. Meanwhile, Elena has been shunned by the narrow-minded officers' wives. McCabe leaves the fort to resume his marshal's job and discovers that he has been replaced by his inept deputy in the interim. Disenchanted, he rides off with Elena in search of a better life.