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On a Sunday in the early 1890s, outside the small Western town of West End, gunslinger Jagade saves a stranger on the trail by shooting his attacker. Afterward, Jagade must hide his disgust upon learning that the stranger, Allan Burnett, is not only a marshal but is engaged to marry Jagade's ex-girl friend, Sharman Fulton, that very day. Jagade travels to West End ahead of Allan and interrupts the wedding preparations by calling Sharman outside. Sharman, a former dance hall girl whose reform has been lauded by West End society, is cold to Jagade, especially after he kills a would-be attacker, hoping to rid the town of the rogue. Judge John J. McLean, who has taken Sharman in until her wedding, orders Jagade to leave town, but Jagade challenges him to a gunfight. Just as Sharman steps in front of McLean, Allan, who feels he owes his life to Jagade, appears. After young hothead Billy Brand testifies that Jagade shot the man in self-defense, Allan lets the sharpshooter go free, to the disappointment of the crowd. Preacher Jason declares that the wedding cannot go on, and soon after, a pleased Jagade shoots open the door of the saloon, which is locked on Sundays. While the townsmen badger Allan for an explanation of his lenience, saloonkeeper Marie explains to Jagade that Allan cleaned up the town years earlier. When Allan appears in the saloon to ask Jagade to leave town, Jagade refuses, condemning the "new West" for using the fear of God and a marshal, whom he calls "a hired gun," to keep everyone in line. Allan visits the McLeans', where a distraught Sharman accuses him of allowing Jagade to stay in order to test her loyalty, to which he replies that he trusts her more than she trusts herself. Upon his return to town, Allan discovers that Jagade has ordered Marie to re-hire her dance hall girls, and the townsmen, led by Preacher Jason, are about to burn down the saloon in response. Allan stops them, explaining that he cannot arrest a man just because people are afraid of him, and after everyone backs down, an arrogant Jagade then announces that only he can make the town prosperous again. Later, Jason admits to Allan that, although he was wrong to turn to violence, Jagade will test everyone's piety. Within days the saloon is filled with dancers and railroad-employee customers, and Jagade has gained Billy as a protégé and has arranged with rich Vanryzin to back the gamblers in order to gain control of their ranches and homes. One day, a prim Sharman visits Jagade in his rooms and offers to go away with him in order to save the town. He replies that he will agree if she walks into the saloon like her old bawdy, rebellious self, and she leaves, only to be spotted and denounced as a harlot by McLean and staid Miss Timmons. Hearing that the McLeans have kicked Sharman out, Allan goes to their house, where McLean pulls out his gun, forcing Allan to shoot the judge's hand. The townsmen hear the news and, assuming that Allan is under Jagade's control, prepare to arrest the marshal. Meanwhile, no one will take Sharman in, and she despairs that she may be forced to return to her old life. While Allan is taken to the jail, Miss Timmons sneaks into Jagade's rooms at the saloon and offers to shelter him from the vengeful townsmen. After instructing Miss Timmons to wait there, Jagade then reinstates the now desperate Sharman into her old room above the saloon. When Sharman berates him for having ruined the town, he drags a humiliated Miss Timmons through the crowded saloon to prove that Sharman's new friends are hypocrites, declaring that he turned over the log but did not create what climbed out from under it. In the church, Jason tries to stop the townsmen from swearing in a vigilante government, while outside scruffy railroad workers, led by a drunken Billy, prepare to lynch Allan. As Sharman pleads with McLean to save Allan, Billy approaches the church with his gun drawn, and shoots Jason after the preacher refuses to allow him to enter. As he dies, Jason convinces McLean that Jagade would not want Allan dead unless he feared him, and McLean orders the marshal released. The railroad workers hear about the preacher's murder and, persuaded that lawlessness has swept the town, ride off, leaving the saloon deserted. Billy, meanwhile, sneaks into Sharman's room and calls Jagade up, but Jagade throws him into the street, where a lynch mob chases him into a barn. No one will enter until Allan appears, and the marshal chases Billy through the barn until Billy stumbles on the body of Miss Timmons, who has hanged herself, and collapses in tears. In the saloon, Sharman appears in her red dress in one last attempt to entice Jagade out of town, but knowing she does not love him, he states that he will not leave without killing Allan. Sharman draws her gun, but Allan, who has been watching, shoots it out of her hand. Each man waits for the other to draw until the church bell peals, startling Jagade into pulling out his gun. After Allan outdraws and shoots him, Jagade weakly admonishes Allan to be grateful to whomever rang the bell and dies. Knowing that Jason, in whose memory the bell was tolled, is to thank, Allan walks to the church arm in arm with Sharman.