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Hopalong Cassidy and Lucky Jenkins ride to the town of Cactus Springs to visit their old friend, Windy Halliday, the newly elected marshal. Also on the way to town is Smoky Bob Joslin, who has just escaped from prison and is planning to pay a visit to his wife, Mary Joyce, the owner of the Circle J Ranch. Joslin meets ex-convict Tex Traynor on the railroad tracks just outside Cactus Springs, and sends him to Tucson to enlist cattle thief "Stiff Hat" Bailey in a scheme to rustle the Circle J cattle. To shield her young son Joey from the truth about his renegade father, Joslin's wife has changed her name to Mary Joyce and told the boy that his father is dead. Consequently, when Joslin appears at the Circle J, Mary introduces him to Joey as her brother Dan. Soon afterward, when Bailey rides into town, Mary's foreman recognizes him and asks Hoppy to help watch the herd. Hoppy agrees, and when Joey falls into a cattle pen and breaks his leg, Hoppy rescues him and takes him home. At the ranch, Hoppy becomes suspicious when he is introduced to "Mary's brother," and is about to arrest him when Mary pleads with him to let Joslin escape for Joey's sake. Against his better judgment, Hoppy frees Joslin, and after Hoppy leaves, Joslin locks Mary in a tool shed and rides to join Bailey and his gang. Meanwhile, at the roundup camp, Lucky is shot while trailing the rustlers and is rescued by Hoppy, who sends the wounded Lucky back to the ranch in the chuck wagon while Windy rides to town for reinforcements. At the ranch, Lucky frees Mary and they escape in the chuck wagon but are overtaken by the rustlers. As Joslin holds Mary and Lucky at gunpoint, Bailey and his men raid the camp, but are prevented from stealing the herd by the quick thinking Hoppy, who captures Bailey and his men. Back at the wagon, Joslin is on the verge of telling Joey who he is when Lucky jumps him and the wagon team horses bolt with Mary and Joey in the wagon. All ends happily, however, when Windy and the posse arrive just in time to prevent Joslin from shooting Lucky, and Hoppy stops the runaway team to rescue Mary and Joey.