powered by AFI
As Jeff Curtis is on his way to Joplin to lead a wagon train west, he picks up a runaway boy, Ben Wilkins, and Ben's dog, Buzz. Jeff takes the boy back to the Wilkins family in Joplin, and there meets Ben's pretty sister Ann. Young Ben had run away because Cyrus Cook, the organizer of the train, had ordered the dog killed and wanted to leave Ben's sick father Sam behind. Jeff takes an immediate dislike to Cook, and Cook's two braggart nephews, Clay and Gaylord, and gets into a fierce fight with Clay after the young man hits Ben. The train is then delayed until Arch Lawrence and his pregnant wife Alice finally arrive. That night, Jeff eats dinner with the Wilkinses, and when he and Ann begin to flirt with each other, a jealous Gaylord warns him to keep away from her. A day or so later, Jeff stops to talk to some friendly Indians, further infuriating the hotheaded Cooks. When a band of renegade Indians try to steal their horses a few days later, Jeff tries to stop them without using violence, but Clay shoots and kills their chief. Furious, Jeff orders Cook to keep his nephews on the wagon. Some days later, as smoke signals rise into the air, two U.S. Marshals overtake the train in search of wagoneers who have been smuggling rifles to the Cheyennes. The Cooks immediately suspect Arch because his cousin was a bank robber, but when Cook attacks Arch, Jeff defends the young man and tells the Cooks to leave. Seeing that the Cooks are unafraid of entering Indian territory alone, Jeff deduces that they are the arms smugglers, and that the smoke signals were a message to them. He tracks them, not realizing that Ben is following him. When he finds Clay and Cook's wife Elizabeth in their wagon, it is Ben who distracts them long enough for Jeff to apprehend them. Searching their wagon, Jeff finds the contraband rifles, a discovery that horrifies Elizabeth. Jeff brings Clay and Elizabeth back to the train and warns everyone there to arm themselves against an attack by Cook and Gaylord. The two men soon arrive with a gang of Indians and begin shooting. During the ensuing gunfight, Ben sees Clay about to kill Jeff and jumps on him, inadvertently pushing Clay into the path of an Indian arrow. The settlers successfully defend the train, and after the Indians finally retreat, Jeff orders all the rifles to be burned. Later, Jeff meets with the Indian chief and strikes a bargain, promising not to inform General Custer, who is rounding up all the Indians in the area, about the tribe if the train is allowed a safe passage. Just then, Arch announces that Alice has given birth to twins, a boy and a girl. Everyone celebrates, except Ben, who scowls in disgust when he sees Jeff and Ann embrace.