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Four young cowboys, Rondo, Jeb Lucas Tyler, Mule and Davy, ride into the small town of Trail City. The cowboys are unable to pay for their drinks at Mike Baron's saloon, so Sheriff Tom McCauley jails them for the night after they state that they will be moving on the next morning. The next day, rancher Sam Christie, a Civil War hero with a paralyzed right arm, is buying supplies in Jess Walters' general store when the young men come in and ask Jess's daughter Ellie to serve them. Once again, they refuse to pay for their purchases, but Sam chooses not to get involved. The youngsters continue their bullying tactics by taking two rooms at Kate Miller's hotel without paying. When Baron, Walters and Miller ask Sam to join them in insisting that McCauley act against the intruders, he refuses, saying that he has to return to his ranch. McCauley's attempt to force the men to leave fails, and Kate goes to see Sam to appeal again for his help, as they have been longtime friends. Kate asks him to stand up to the young men, but he has had his fill of fighting, and when he refuses, she accuses him of being afraid. Meanwhile, the cowboys have returned to Baron's saloon and are intimidating him and his customers. When Baron tells them to leave, Mule, the biggest of the gang, beats him up. Later, Rondo, a Mexican, tells Ellie that he had nothing to do with the beating and kisses her, but she does not respond. When McCauley is forced to face the hoodlums, Jeb shoots and kills him, but Davy is disturbed by this turn of events. Sam informs Walters, Baron and Doc Fuller that he is going back to his ranch for his gun, and asks them to round up volunteers. However, Abilene, the town drunk, tips off the gang and they are waiting for Sam at his ranch. After Mule badly beats Sam, they take his horses and wagon and return to town. Ellie rides out to Sam's, helps him clean himself up and tells him that there is some response to his appeal for volunteers. Sam, however, feels that only a few will want to follow him, "half a man." Ellie kisses and embraces him, prompting him to return to the fray. Meanwhile, Davy tells Rondo that he wants to leave and asks him to go with him. In a stable, Sam tells the assembled volunteers that Rondo is the most dangerous of the group. When Davy comes to collect his horse, he draws his gun on Sam and the volunteers, saying that he does not want to kill any of them, then drops the gun and weeps. Rondo then surprises Ellie at her home and attacks her, but she claws him and escapes. When Sam captures Rondo, the other citizens want to hang him but Sam dissuades them. Ellie sees Rondo pull out a knife and head toward Sam's back, and shoots and kills him. After Jeb and Mule retreat to the saloon, Sam challenges Mule to come out and faces him armed with Rondo's knife. They fight and Mule dies when he falls on the knife. Jeb, panicked, tries to escape but Sam shoots and kills him. Sam tells Davy to get his horse and leave, then he and Ellie reunite.