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Adam Larey and his fiancée, Ruth Virey, travel with her parents to Death Valley, California, hoping to find gold there. Adam's brother Guerd calls him to Picacho, a town outside the desert, to steal his inheritance to pay back a gambling debt Guerd owes to Sheriff Collishaw. During Adam's first night in town, Guerd and Collishaw get him drunk and cheat him out of $4,000 while playing cards. When Adam catches Guerd cheating, he refuses to pay, and they fight. After a gun goes off and Guerd is wounded, Collishaw threatens to hang Adam. Adam tells Ruth what happened and flees into the desert on foot. Although he collapses, he is saved by Dismukes, an old prospector who has been mining gold in Death Valley for years. When two of Collishaw's deputies come looking for Adam in the desert, Dismukes buries him in the sand with a pipe to breath through and saves him from being arrested. After arriving at his mine, Dismukes gives Adam a new name and prepares him for a trip across the desert to Dismukes' Indian friends, with whom Adam will spend the winter. On the way, however, Adam's jackass "Jenny" starts a fire and runs away, and Adam is robbed by outlaw Big Ben, who is planning to rob Dismukes. Big Ben holds Adam prisoner, along with a man who hid Adam's money. The man is so badly beaten that he dies before Adam can free him. Adam himself escapes to Tecopath to find Dismukes and learns he has left with Ruth to bury her parents, who died of starvation while trying to cross the desert, in part because Ruth's father was senile. Adam arrives in time to save Dismukes and Ruth. Big Ben gets trampled to death in the pit where the mules grind the ore. Adam then returns to Picacho to give himself up to Collishaw and finds only Dismukes' old partner, G. August Merryvale, who became sheriff after Picacho turned into a ghost town when the gold ran out. Merryvale explains that Guerd had only been wounded by Adam, but was murdered by Collishaw shortly after Adam disappeared. Merryvale hanged Collishaw for Guerd's murder. Adam returns to Ruth, and Dismukes leaves Death Valley to retire on his savings.