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Rocklin, a taciturn, woman-hating cowboy, buys a ticket for the stage bound for Santa Inez and climbs aboard next to the driver, Dave, a cantankerous old drunk. Joining them on the journey is Miss Elizabeth Martin, a supercillious Easterner, and her niece, Clara Cardell. At the rest stop, they meet Sheriff Jackson and Bob Clews, who have ridden from Santa Inez to investigate some stolen meat. There, Rocklin learns that Clara's great uncle, Red Cardell, the owner of the K.C. ranch, was shot in the back several weeks earlier. When a drunken Dave insults Clews and the sheriff, they take him outside to rest, and later, Rocklin finds that he has been pistol-whipped and dumped in a pile of hay. Rocklin drives the stage to town and is invited by Robert Garvey, the town lawyer, to join a poker game. Clint Harolday, the stepson of the owner of the Topaz Ranch, bets against Rocklin, but when Clint insists upon playing a card that was exposed face-up, Rocklin declares the card "dead" and himself the winner. Clint, a sore loser, pulls a gun on Rocklin, who then saunters upstairs to his room, straps on his gun and claims his winnings from Clint. Later, Rocklin is confronted by Clint's feisty sister Arly, who demands her brother's winnings and takes several shots at the cowboy. In response, Rocklin coolly turns his back on Arly and walks away. Rocklin then visits Garvey, Cardell's attorney, and shows him a letter written by Cardell, hiring the cowboy as his foreman. At that moment, Miss Martin and Clara arrive at Garvey's office to claim the K.C. ranch as Clara's legacy. Upon learning that Cardell hired Rocklin to work as ranch foreman, Miss Martin denounces the cowboy, who then returns the $150 in wages that Cardell had advanced him. As Clara starts to insist that Rocklin keep the money, Arly enters the office to inform the cowboy that her stepfather wants to hire him as foreman of the Topaz Ranch. In reality, it is Arly, attracted by Rocklin's panache, who has decided to hire him. When Rocklin meets his new employer, Harolday tells him that he thinks Cardell was killed by a gang of rustlers and dispatches him to a deserted line camp to watch for them. After Rocklin leaves town, Clara asks Tala, a hand at the Topaz Ranch and Arly's constant companion, to deliver a letter to the cowboy. Tala gives the letter to Dave, who is now a driver for the freight line. When Tala discovers that Arly has glamorized herself for Rocklin, he tells her about Clara's letter. Dave delivers the letter to Rocklin, which contains his $150 and a plea for advice. In it, Clara confides her suspicion that Garvey is trying to convince her aunt to place the ranch in his hands and return East. When Rocklin questions Dave about the relationship between Cardell and Garvey, the old timer tells him that Cardell had discovered a deck of marked cards in Garvey's coat pocket and was on his way to report them to the district judge when he was shot in the back. As Dave completes his story, a bullet, aimed at Rocklin, flies through the window. The two men run outside to investigate and find a pouch with a silver steer's head on it. Returning to the cabin, they find Arly searching for Clara's letter. Jealous, Arly orders Rocklin off her ranch, and after she throws a knife at him, he kisses her and leaves. Riding to Harolday's office, Rocklin shows him the pouch and tells him about the shooting. Harolday recognizes the pouch and after Rocklin departs, he warns Clint to leave town. At his hotel, Rocklin is met by Clara, who tells him that her aunt is threatening to sign an affidavit that would declare her underage and thus cede control of the ranch to the older woman. When Clara tells him that Garvey possesses a letter proving that she is of legal age, Rocklin goes to retrieve the letter but is too late, because Garvey has just burned it. Garvey is in the process of drafting the affidavit when Rocklin bursts into his office and begins to search for the letter. When Rocklin finds two decks of marked cards in Garvey's desk, he accuses the lawyer of killing Cardell. After instructing Dave to bring Clint to him, Rocklin returns to his room, where he finds Arly and Clara talking. When Arly tries to make Clara jealous by telling her about Rocklin's kiss, the cowboy promises to take the dejected Clara to Garden City the next day so that they can investigate Garvey. After the two women leave, Dave brings Clint to Rocklin's room. As Rocklin interrogates Clint about Garvey's involvement in Cardell's murder, Tala watches Garvey climb the outside stairs to Rocklin's room. Clint shoves Rocklin, and Garvey reaches through the open window, grabs Rocklin's gun and shoots at Clint. Drawn by the sounds of gunshots, a group of townsfolk rush to Rocklin's room and, finding Clint dead, assume at Garvey's urging that Rocklin killed Clint. Denying Garvey's accusation, Rocklin jumps out the window and escapes. As Garvey organizes a posse to pursue Rocklin, Tala tells Arly that he saw Clint's murderer and vows to bring him to justice. Hiding in Dave's wagon, Rocklin drives to the K.C. ranch and overhears Miss Martin admit to Clara that she and Garvey are involved in a scheme to steal the ranch from Rocklin, Cardell's nephew and rightful heir. When Miss Martin discovers Rocklin's presence, she orders Garvey's henchmen, Clews and his brother George, to take Dave and Rocklin prisoner and deliver them to Garvey in town. Clara faints as they tie up Dave and Rocklin and throw them into Dave's wagon. At the gate to the ranch, Garvey's henchmen are stopped by Arly and Tala, who have beaten the posse to the ranch. Although Arly warns Rocklin that he must leave at once, he insists on returning for Clara. Dave and Rocklin sneak around to the back window while the posse gallops up to the front door, and Miss Martin tells them that the Clewses have taken the fugitives to town and asks to speak to Garvey alone. After the others leave, she tells Garvey that Rocklin knows everything. They are arguing when Rocklin enters the room and asks Garvey about the pouch. Harolday, who has stayed behind, sneaks up to the window and is about to shoot Rocklin when Arly, who is hiding in the bushes, throws a knife at him. After Arly tells Rocklin that Tala saw Harolday kill Clint, Harolday tries to run away. Rocklin aims his gun at him, but Arly hits his arm, causing him to miss so that Tala can exact revenge with his knife. Garvey then admits that he and Harolday were involved in a scheme to buy up ranches and subdivide the land to sell to farmers. Garvey continues that Harolday killed Cardell when he threatened to expose the marked cards and that Clint's bullet was meant for Rocklin. After Clara announces that she plans to return to the East, Rocklin follows Arly outside. Later, Dave and Tala see them kissing.