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Outside an old, abandoned mine in Colombia, mining engineer Rian X. Mitchell is attacked by a gang of bandits, who shoot him and toss him down the side of a mountain. When he comes to, Rian sets off on foot and is rescued by the local padre, Father Ripero. After explaining that the bandits were the notorious El Moro's men, the priest brings Rian to Catherine Knowland's coffee plantation, where his wound is treated. The following day, Father Ripero tells Rian that the ore sample he was carrying indicates that he has located Carrero, the lost emerald mine of the Conquistadors. The priest adds that he discovered the mine five years before, but kept it a secret, fearing that it would only cause problems for his people. Rian returns to Entrada and goes to the office he shares with Vic Leonard, his partner in a mining consulting business. He greets his secretary Dolores with a passionate kiss, and she tells Rian that Vic has booked passage for Canada. Rian immediately goes to the harbor and intercepts Vic, who scoffs at his talk of an emerald mine. Vic tells his partner that he has taken a job as foreman of the Manitoba Carbon Company, and is looking forward to some security after twelve years of chasing fortunes in mines throughout the world. Rian gets Vic drunk, then puts him to bed and takes his money, which he gambles with and greatly increases. Vic is furious when Rian returns in the morning, but against his better judgment accompanies him on the riverboat back to the mine. After attempting without success to assemble a mining crew, Rian goes to the church and confronts Father Ripero, who admits he has used his sermons to plant the idea that working in the emerald mine would be a foolish, dangerous idea. Undeterred, Rian recruits workers by promising a bounty for the first man to find an emerald, and the excavation begins. One day, Catherine's younger brother Donald comes to the mine to escort Rian and Vic to dinner at the plantation. Donald confesses that he is not really interested in growing coffee, and expresses envy of the miner's life. After the dinner party, Rian contrives to get Catherine alone, and they kiss. Rian tells Catherine that his father was a coal miner who was killed in a cave-in, and he has vowed to go into a mountain himself and come out rich. One night, while Rian is staying at Catherine's plantation, they are visited by El Moro, who claims that the mountain belongs to him, and shows Rian a deed. The bandit wants Rian's project to continue, as he lacks the expertise to get the emeralds out himself, and proposes a partnership whereby he will share in the mine's profits. When Rian calls the deed a forgery, El Moro strikes him, and vows to come for his share when the emeralds are discovered. Soon after, the mine shaft collapses, and Vic manages to save Rian in the nick of time. Vic is ready to quit, but Rian refuses to abandon his quest for the emeralds, and decides to try a much more expensive mining technique, which he manipulates Donald into financing and staffing with workers from the plantation. The new operation begins, and Catherine angrily confronts Rian and Vic, saying that Donald's investment has taken all their money and manpower. Disgusted by Rian's dealings, Vic gets drunk and ends their partnership, then goes to Catherine, with whom he is in love, and offers his services on the plantation. The following day, Father Ripero shows up with a makeshift but eager crew, and the coffee harvest resumes. One day at the mine, Donald is struck and killed by falling boulders, and Catherine refuses to speak to Rian after the funeral. The harvest is threatened when the river changes course because of landslides caused by the mining operation. Vic proposes blowing up the mountain to redirect the course of the river, or risk losing the plantation to a flood once the rainy season comes, and Catherine reluctantly agrees, despite Father Ripero's admonitions. After setting the dynamite, Vic calls on Rian and apprises him of the plan. Rian tries in vain to stop his departing workers, whom Catherine has rehired, then refuses to leave the mountain. Vic and Rian fight until Catherine breaks it up and calls off the explosion, declaring that nothing is worth having this way. As giant rain clouds approach, Rian looks at the weeping Catherine and gives the order for the mountain to be blown up. Just then, El Moro and his men launch an attack. Greatly outnumbered by the bandits, Rian devises a desperate plan. While Vic, Catherine and mining foreman José exchange gunfire with El Moro's men, Rian makes his way to the detonator on top of the mountain. After his friends escape on horseback, Rian detonates the dynamite and, with exactly two minutes before the explosion, finds shelter from the avalanche, which diverts the course of the river. As the rain begins to pour down, Rian catches up with the others and embraces Catherine, presenting her with the single emerald unearthed during their operation as his "dowry."