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In Willow Creek, New Mexico, rancher Hal Fenton gathers his men and his hot-tempered brother Randee, and outlines his plan to move his cattle down into the fertile valley and crowd out any other settlers. One of the men, Les McCambridge, tells fellow ranch hand Jack that they should start a spread of their own, and proposes that they rob the safe at Charlie Bissell's general store. When they arrive at the store, Les notices taciturn drifter Steve Lewellyn having a drink and tells Jack to start a fight with him, so that Les can shoot the stranger and frame him for the robbery. Jack knocks Bissell out and draws on Steve, but Les shoots Jack in the back, then urges Steve to leave with him before Bissell revives. While Steve is getting his horse, Les robs the safe. As they ride, Steve expresses suspicion about the incident at the store, and when Les shoots Steve from behind, Steve kills him. Badly injured, Steve rides on and collapses in the stream near the home of Pete Lynch and his daughter Sharon, who takes him in. While Steve is recuperating, Pete tells him he wants to buy some of the premium grazing land in Willow Creek so that he can give Sharon a better life. Steve, who has fallen in love with Sharon, gives Pete the money he found in Les's saddlebag, and Pete makes him a partner. While Pete travels to the county seat to handle the transaction, Steve rides out to look at the land and encounters the Fenton brothers. Hal offers to give Pete a note for the land, and when Steve turns him down, Hal warns that he will have his cattle grazing on it by the time Pete returns. The next night, Sharon, who hates the isolation and hardship of the country, and the violence of the men who live in it, asks Steve to move to town with her, but he declines. Sharon tells him about the robbery of Bissell's safe, and Steve says he will make a deal with the Fentons to avoid a fight. When Steve calls at the Fenton ranch, however, Randee pulls a gun, forcing Steve to kill him. Steve goes to Bissell's store and explains what happened, and after assigning his share of the land to Bissell and asking the older man to keep his guns for him, he rides away. Five years later, in the nearby town of Silver Spur, Steve comes into the saloon, which Bissell built on land Steve found for him. To show his gratitude, Bissell gives Steve a parcel of farm land, and reports that Pete was murdered and that Sharon works for the newspaper. Steve takes back his guns and goes to the newspaper office, where Marshal Keown, who is in love with Sharon, has just brought in her drunken husband, John Devore, the owner of the paper. Sharon is unhappy to see Steve wearing his guns again, and tells him she is resigned to her miserable marriage. Later, at the saloon, rancher Jim Westfall comes in and tells Bissell that his house was burned down because he refused to sell his land to Hal. When one of Hal's men enters, a shootout erupts that leaves Jim and Sharon's husband John dead. The next morning, Steve overtakes Sharon's wagon as she is driving Jennie Westfall back from the ruins of her home. When he learns that Jennie was beaten by Curley, one of Hal's men, Steve insists they return to her ranch, and fights Curley. That night, Hal and his men attack the town, and after a long, bloody battle, Steve and Keown defeat them. With peace restored at last, Steve gives his guns to Bissell again, and he and Sharon happily embrace.