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In Texas, reporter Clayton Vance informs the Denbow family--father Matt, son Glenn and cousin Kirk--that if they do not open up their land so that homesteaders can cross it and reach the free government range, he will expose them in his newspaper. Matt, who knows that allowing the homesteaders access to the land will require a diminishment of his own cattle empire, throws out Vance. That night, at a dance in town, Glenn's girl friend, dancer Lottie, makes him jealous, and he responds by flirting with local waitress Jane Stevens, who is entranced by him. Lottie retaliates by stealing the gun from Jane's escort, Charlie Fentress, and then goading him to attack Glenn. Glenn sees Charlie reach for his holster and shoots him in self-defense, but when Charlie is found to be unarmed, Glenn is arrested for his murder. Kirk bails out Glenn and offers Jane $10,000 to testify that Charlie reached for his gun. Jane, who did not see the shooting, states that although she loves Glenn, she will not accept a bribe. When Kirk returns with this news, the family lawyer, Max Wickersham, advises Glenn that he must marry Jane because a wife cannot testify against her husband. Though disgusted, Glenn seduces Jane and just as he proposes to her, Max arrives as planned and lies that the trial has been called off because the sheriff found Charlie's gun. Jane happily agrees to be married, and for the wedding celebration, Glenn's aunt Camilla steers Jane away from her typical flashy outfits, dressing her in a lovely gown. When Jane makes her entrance, everyone, including Glenn and Kirk, is awed. Jane tries to befriend Kirk, but he accuses her of turning down the $10,000 in order to secure a larger prize, and throws the day's newspaper at her. When she reads Vance's article, which denounces her for marrying Glenn to save him from hanging, she realizes that he tricked her into marriage. When he later embraces her drunkenly, she pulls out a gun and tells him she will stay to keep up appearances but will not love him. Later that night, Lottie appears and informs Glenn that she has Charlie's gun and, for the right amount of money, will agree not to turn it into the sheriff. Unconcerned with her treachery, Glenn spends the next few nights with her. Meanwhile, the ranchhands grow fond of Jane, and even cantankerous Matt admires her fiesty spirit. She accompanies Kirk onto the range, and when beloved ranchhand Bandera is gored by a bull, Jane bravely cauterizes his wound with a branding iron, saving his life and earning Kirk's respect. She explains that night at dinner that she learned ranching from her father, a homesteader who was shot by landowners. Later, in town Kirk finds Glenn drunkenly boasting about how he set up Jane to marry him. Kirk knocks him out, brings him home, and apologizes to Jane for doubting her. The next morning, Matt, hoping to make a man of Glenn, informs his son that he must either become a responsible husband and worker or leave the estate, and Glenn storms out. Soon, however, everyone's attention is occupied by the congregation of homesteaders whom Vance has brought in from neighboring states to form a united front against the Denbows. One of the ranchhands, Dave Chittun, learns that Kirk is moving the herd off the main range and posting all his men at the strip that leads to the government land. Dave informs Lottie that he is taking control, and then blackmails Glenn into helping him rustle the cattle to Mexico while Kirk and his men are busy with the homesteaders. That night, however, Glenn causes the cattle to stampede to keep them out of Dave's hands. Dave shoots Glenn, and as Kirk and his men are rounding up the herd, they kill Dave. At the same time, Matt and his men face down the homesteaders at the Denbow fence near the government strip. The first shots are fired, and Matt is killed just as Kirk arrives. Jane begs Kirk to stop the war, and Kirk, seeing his dead uncle and cousin, orders his men to remove the fence. He and Jane stand side by side as the settlers roll through the range.