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Just before the turn of the century, Metropolitan Oil Company scout Walter Garfield comes to the town of Maverick, where he discovers a huge oil deposit under the caves on land owned by Ben Taylor. Believing that the deposit extends to the surrounding ranches as well, Garfield wires his company that oil may be present, then, along with saloon owner Ace Hanlon and his gang, instigates a wave of terror against the ranchers. Garfield hopes to drive the ranchers away, buy their land cheaply and then make a fortune selling it to Metropolitan. After the gang succeeds in driving off three ranchers, they raid Taylor's house, and during a shootout with Taylor and his daughter Ann, they kill Taylor. Taylor's closest neighbors, the Duchess, her nephew, Red Ryder, and his Indian ward, Little Beaver, look after Ann and wonder who is behind the attacks, which Red does not believe are the work of ordinary rustlers. Fearing that Hanlon's men will strike the Duchess' ranch next, Red and foreman Happy Jack confront Hanlon. After Red trounces Hanlon in a fistfight, Hanlon decides to have Red killed and sends for Johnny Bennett, an old friend who is known as The San Antonio Kid. Although Johnny is not a killer, Hanlon thinks he can pressure him into accepting the assignment because of his gambling debts. Meanwhile, Red, Happy Jack and Little Beaver find oil seeping through the ground of Taylor's cave, and Red realizes why Hanlon purchased the ranches. Red swears the others to secrecy, then, to protect Ann from the raiders, buys her ranch with the assurance that she can purchase it back at the same price if she changes her mind. Desperate to get the Taylor ranch before his company orders him to move on, Garfield offers Ann twice what Red paid for it, and when Red refuses to sell, Ann accuses him of swindling her. After Garfield leaves, however, Red tells Ann and the Duchess about the oil and Ann apologizes. Soon after, Johnny is traveling to Maverick when his horse is spooked and tosses him off a cliff. Johnny, holding onto a branch, is about to fall to his death when Red passes by and saves him. Red takes him to the ranch, where Johnny takes an immediate liking to the family atmosphere. Although she is shocked that Johnny is a gambler, the Duchess offers him a job when he professes a desire to go straight. After Johnny agrees to start work once he finishes a job for a friend who lent him money, he goes to the saloon, where Hanlon tells him that to clear his debt, he must kill Red. Johnny refuses until Hanlon asserts that he will have Red killed anyway. Johnny informs Red of the situation, and the two plan to trap Hanlon. Later, Johnny distracts Garfield and Hanlon with a poker game while Red searches Hanlon's office. There he finds proof of the oil discovery and Hanlon's partnership with Garfield. Red arranges for a confrontation with Hanlon the next day, and when Johnny does not kill Red as ordered, one of Hanlon's men shoots him. Johnny is only wounded, however, and helps Red, Happy Jack and Little Beaver as they engage in a shootout with the gang. Red chases Garfield and Hanlon to the caves, where a fight breaks out and one of the oil pools is set on fire. Garfield is felled by the blaze, and the gang is rounded up. Later, Red, Little Beaver and Happy Jack ride off in search of another adventure, and Johnny promises to look after the Duchess and Ann.