Charley Wagner is repairing the fence at his home when he hears a gunshot. He runs over and finds his wife Greta standing over a dead calf. There's a note nearby saying that one of Charley's kids is next if Lute Borden hangs. A shot hits the ground and Greta gets the children in. Charley stands his ground and tells Greta that the shooter just wants him to know that he could hit him. He yells at the shooter to come out but nothing happens.
Later, Hoby hears that Lute was arrested for murdering Amos Judd, and knows that Lute and his brother Rafe are rustlers and troublemakers. However, Lute won't be convicted unless Hoby convinces Charley to testify. Hoby meets with the local sheriff, Wittaker, and the sheriff explains that Charley is frightened for his family. He shows Hoby some of the notes that Charley got, and explains that Charley is reconsidering his testimony. They have Charley and his family at the hotel for protection, and Hoby goes to the cell to talk to Lute. Lute tells Hoby not to waste his time because he's not going to hang. He suggests that Hoby let him go and promises that he'll be standing at the bar the next day.
Rafe comes to the sheriff's office to talk to Lute. He's glad to leave his gun with Wittaker, and once he goes to the cell Wittaker loads his shotgun. Meanwhile, Rafe tells his brother that he knows Hoby is in town, and assures Lute that Charley is spooked. If he does talk, then Rafe will rescue Lute when he comes out of the courthouse. Rafe assures Lute that he'll take care of Hoby and leaves when his time is up.
Hoby is eating at the saloon when Rafe comes in and goes to the bar. The bartender asks if he's sticking around for Lute's trial, and says that they're giving 10-to-1 odds that Lute will hang. The man insists that the town is convinced that Lute is guilty and says that they should have hung Lute and his brother years ago. Hoby comes over and agrees, and Rafe offers to buy him a gun. The Ranger introduces Rafe to the bartender, and then goes over to a table with the man. Hoby accuses him of threatening Charley, and Rafe promises that Lute won't hang. He promises that Lute will never hand, and Hoby points out that Lute has never fought in a real fight. The Ranger points out that if Rafe stays in town then he'll eventually arrest him, but Rafe says that it's just talk. He says that Hoby hides behind a badge to gun men down but he isn't that particular, and walks out.
When Rafe goes down the street, Hoby follows him and watches Rae go into the hotel. Hoby goes in after him and the clerk only tells Hoby what room Charley is in when Charley flashes his badge. When the Ranger goes up, he finds the deputy napping in the hallway. After he takes the deputy's guard and advises him to be careful, Hoby breaks into Greta's room and apologizes for startling her. Charley comes in with some water and tells Hoby that he's not going to testify. He claims that he made a mistake when he said that he saw Lute kill the man. Hoby tells him that the law isn't worth anything if Charley doesn't back it up, but Charley figures that he'll condemn his family to death if he testifies. The Range says that he'll give his personal guarantee that the Walkers won't be in any danger from Rafe if Charley testifies. Charley points out that Hoby could only keep that promise is by killing someone, but Hoby only repeats that he gave his word before leaving.
The next morning, Wittaker and the deputies take Lute into the courthouse. The sheriff posts his men in front of the courthouse, and he and Hoby see Rafe when he walks up across the street. Wittaker tells him not to start any trouble and goes back over, and more deputies bring Charley in. Inside, Charley is called to testify. He glances nervously over at Lute and then takes the stand.
Hoby is standing guard outside when he sees Rafe ride up with two horses. Rafe ties up the horses and goes into the saloon. Wittaker comes out and suggests that he arrest Rafe, but Hoby tells him that he can't lock up Rafe forever and he has a promise to keep.
Charley says that he's scared and there's only one person that could say that he's lying. The judge asks him to identify the killer, and Charley points out Lute.
Hoby and Wittaker go into the bar, and Rafe figures that Charley doesn't have the guts to testify. Hoby suggests that he threatened Charley, and Rafe denies it and walks out. The Ranger and Wittaker follow Rafe outside and watch him mount up and wait.
The judge sentences Lute to hanging and adjourns the court. When the people come out, a handcuffed Lute looks over at Rafe. He makes a break for it and runs for the extra horse. A deputy shoots him dead, and Rafe goes to his brother's body. Charley walks over and Hoby stops him, but Rafe tells him to let Charley come to him. Hoby says that he gave his word, but Charley says that it means nothing and he's either going to kill Rafe or let Rafe kill him so that Hoby will do something.
Hoby punches Charley unconscious and then turns to face Rafe. Rafe refuses to shoot a Ranger in front of armed deputies, and Hoby has Wittaker order all of his men to disarm. Once they do, Hoby says that he's going to give his word. Rafe says that he doesn't mind waiting, and Hoby tells him to either confess to threatening the Wagner family, or he'll gun him down. The rustler figures that Hoby won't gun him down, but Hoby figures that he'll take his chances in court. Rafe asks Wittaker for help, but Wittaker says that he can't do anything until the two men shoot it out.
The Range asks Rafe if everyone will ever take his brag again, and promises to make Rafe crawl. Rafe goes for his gun and Hoby guns him down as Charley wakes up and watches. He and Wittaker go over and Hoby makes Wittaker promise that he'll bury Rafe. With that, he walks off.
Written by Gadfly on Mar 26, 2017