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In Apache Bend, Arizona, Sheriff Wade Addams teaches gun skills to Clay Gipson, his fiancée Linda's little brother. When Clay's widower rancher father Tom gives him his first pony, Clay follows Wade's Texas tradition and calls the horse Sinoye, after the Yaqui Indian from whom Wade bought it. One evening notorious outlaw Tris Hatten, whom everyone believes is dead, returns to Apache Bend and imposes on Sanchez, a terrified old man, to give him shelter and send word of his arrival to his girl friend, saloon girl Millie Street. Clay is playing with Sinoye by the road when Millie rides by and he follows her to Sanchez' house, where he sees her greeting Hatten, whose face is well known to Clay from numerous wanted posters. Clay encounters Wade on his ride back and warns him about the outlaw. Wade sends Clay home after making him promise to keep the news a secret. Instead, the boy secretly follows Wade back to Sanchez' house, and watches as Wade busts down the door. Wade captures Hatten while he is unarmed and pistol-whips the outlaw when he attacks him. Wade then instructs Millie to carry the unconscious Hatten to jail in her buggy. Later at the saloon, Millie throws a drink in Wade's face after publicly accusing him of cowardice for arresting Hatten while he was unarmed. Reporter Jonathan Tatum interviews the sheriff, who protects Clay from Hatten's confederates by refusing to reveal him as his informant. However, Tom reads about Hatten's capture, and connects Clay's absence that night to the arrest. Clay reluctantly breaks his promise to Wade and tells his father what happened. As Tom already resents Wade because the sheriff refused both Tom's and Linda's entreaties to leave his job and work at the ranch, he now assumes that Wade purposely kept Clay's involvement secret so that he could claim the reward money for himself. Jonathan concurs with Tom and publishes an article that names Clay as the informant. The article praises the boy's heroism but turns public opinion against Wade. When even Linda expresses distrust in him, a disappointed Wade confides in his deputy, Cooper, that he plans to resign after Hatten is hanged. Millie and her friend Shorty continue to complain loudly about Wade, and now add Clay as their enemy. When the outlaw Barlow brothers come into the saloon claiming they are there for Hatten's trial, a suspicious Wade announces that all strangers must leave town by nightfall. That evening, Clay is shot while riding Sinoye. Wade attempts to arrest the Barlows as suspects in the shooting, and kills two of them in self-defense when they resist. Cooper imprisons George, the surviving Barlow, while Wade rides to the Gipson ranch to visit Clay. Doc Ward informs Wade that Clay may not survive, and Tom realizes that he let his pride get in the way of his son's safety. Jonathan arrives shortly afterward, having discovered that there is only $100 reward money for the capture of Hatten, because he had been presumed dead. Tom's and Linda's faith in Wade is restored when Jonathan reveals that Wade outdrew the three gunslingers in the saloon. In the jail, meanwhile, a wounded George gives a hidden derringer to Hatten, in exchange for Hatten's promise to kill Wade as soon as he escapes. When Clay awakens the next day, he asks Wade's forgiveness, and the sheriff reassures the boy that he knows Clay did his best. During his escape at dawn, Hatten murders elderly guard Pop Jackson. After locking two other deputies inside the cell with George, Hatten awakens Millie. Hatten promises to send for her later, and asks her to tell Wade to meet the outlaw at Gila Bend at noon. Hatten then steals Jonathan's horse and shoots and kills the reporter when he resists. Upon returning to town, Wade learns about the escape and murders. Shorty appears as Millie is relaying Hatten's message to Wade. Earlier, Shorty had confessed to Millie that he shot Clay as a tribute to her. When Millie insults Shorty's manhood, Shorty draws his weapon against Wade to prove himself to her. After Wade shoots and kills Shorty in self-defense, Millie admits that her loyal friend shot Clay. Wade then demands that Millie leave town, and rides to Gila Bend to confront Hatten. The sheriff is wounded in the arm when he and the gunfighter face off on their horses, and fire as they ride toward each other. Hatten is mortally wounded and acknowledges that he will not live long enough to be hanged. After his injury is tended to, Wade returns to the Gipson ranch where he is warmly greeted, and finds that Clay is recovering well.