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Hiram Denton, the owner of the Den-Wal Mining Company, is riding with his ranch hands, Salty and Jimmy, when he is shot at by an unseen assailant. While chasing Denton's attacker, Salty and Jimmy cross paths with Steve Carlisle and accuse him of the assault. When Steve introduces himself as a mineralogist hired by Denton's absent partner, George Walker, to prospect for quartz, Denton invites Steve to stay at the ranch owned by his ward, Jane Fielding. Steve declines, however, preferring to establish his headquarters at an abandoned line shack. There, he meets Cannonball, Jane's cook, who has decided to forgo cooking in favor of detecting. After enlisting Cannonball as his helper, Steve rides to the ranch, where he is confronted by a hostile Jane. When Steve questions Denton about who would benefit from his death, Denton replies that he has refused Jane permission to sell the ranch to the Empire Syndicate. Meanwhile, at the headquarters of the Empire Syndicate, syndicate vice president Paul Edwards discusses his plans to establish a gambling casino on Jane's ranch, which straddles the California-Nevada state lines. Edwards, a slick Eastern "dude," decides to use his charms to persuade Jane to sell the ranch to him, and instructs his thugs to investigate the stranger living in the line shack. When Steve and Cannonball return to the shack that night, they discover Edwards' men searching the place and chase them away. While prospecting for quartz the next day, Steve sees Edwards and Jane riding together and becomes suspicious of Edwards' motives. That night, during a party at the ranch, Edwards asks to speak to Denton privately and then tries to convince him to grant Jane permission to sell the property. After downing a drink, Denton collapses, and Steve, suspecting foul play, rides into town to confer with Denton's doctor. The doctor confides that he believes Denton has been poisoned, but must wait for the lab tests to be certain. On his ride back to the ranch, Steve is attacked by Edwards' men, but Cannonball comes to his rescue and helps drive them away. At the ranch, Steve sneaks in an open window and is discovered by Matilda, the new cook. Just as Edwards appears, gun in hand, Jane bursts into the room with news that Denton has been fatally stabbed. Accusing Steve of murder, Edwards sends for the sheriff, who arrests Steve and locks him in the bunkhouse. Cannonball then recruits Salty and Jimmy to come to Steve's rescue, and while the three divert the sheriff, Steve escapes. After Edwards offers a reward for Steve's return, dead or alive, Steve visits the doctor, who tells him that Denton was poisoned and that Jane and Edwards plan to wed the next day. Steve asks the doctor to promise to keep his results secret. As Edwards discusses community property laws with his gang in his office, Steve throws a rock through the window with a message attached, warning that he knows the identity of Denton's murderer. After Edwards dispatches his thugs to eliminate Steve at the line shack, Cannonball, disguised as a cleaning woman, enters the syndicate's office and searches it. At the line shack, one of Edwards' men hurls a knife at Steve and kills his own partner instead. Cannonball then arrives and after driving away Steve's assailant, shows him the documents he has pilfered from Edwards' office. Meanwhile, Steve's attacker rides into town and accuses Steve of killing his friend. The sheriff proceeds to the line shack to investigate, and when he identifies the knife as the same murder weapon that killed Denton, he forms a posse to arrest Steve. On the day of the wedding, Steve and Cannonball ride to the ranch with the sheriff in pursuit. After producing the marriage certificate that Cannonball took from Edwards' office, proving that Jane and Edwards are already married, Steve accuses Jane of stabbing Denton to death. Jane then blurts out that Denton was poisoned and denounces Edwards for planning the murder. Confronted with the truth, Edwards jumps out an open window onto a waiting horse and is pursued by Steve and the sheriff. As the sheriff watches, Steve apprehends Edwards and brings him to justice.