On the streets of Alpine, Texas, Brad Martin walks down the street and confronts another man. They draw and both men go down. The townspeople confirm that Brad is dead, and one man says that the blame for Brad's death is theirs for letting his killer—a Texas Ranger--taking over their town.
Later, Hoby rides into Alpine and the townspeople notice his badge. Most of them duck back inside, and Hoby goes into the hotel. The bank manager, Ben Arnold, gathers several of the townspeople and they go into Ben's office. Meanwhile, Hoby checks into his room and asks about Gil Matthews. After the clerk says that Gil owns the feed store, Hoby goes up to his room. The clerk runs to the mayor's office and tells Ben who Hoby is asking for. Ben says that Hoby won't find him.
Hoby goes to the feed store and finds it closed and for sale. The one-armed justice of the peace, Jed Burroughs, comes over and introduces himself. He says that Gil has been gone for a month, and left after a Ranger killed Brad, a highly regarded citizen. Jed figures that Hoby knows that Gil asked the Rangers to send a man, and Hoby says that Gil thought that the law was loose in Alpine. The Rangers sent Will Sommers, and will and Brad ended up dead. Jed says that Will was a drunk, trigger-happy man who ran roughshod over everybody. Brad faced up to him and killed him, and Gil left because nobody would talk to him. Jed tells Hoby that people might not take kindly to him, and suggests that he ride back to El Paso. Hoby assures him that he will... if everything is what Jed says it is.
Hoby goes to the saloon and a woman, Sal Hendricks, tells him that he's not open to Hoby. He says that just because they had trouble with one Ranger doesn't mean they're all the same kind. A man, Matt Morris, tells Sal that Hoby is his guest and invites him to drink with him. Matt says that he's new to Texas and they drink up. He oils his gun in his holster and demonstrates how fast he can draw it to Hoby. Hoby thanks him for the drink and wonders if Matt is trying to kill him with kindness. Matt just chuckles and Hoby walks down the street. The townspeople avoid him, and one man fires a gun from hiding, hitting the post next to Hoby. Hoby turns and draws on Jerry, the man walking behind him, and Jerry says that he's unarmed. The townspeople gather and say that all Rangers are killer, and Hoby invites Matt to walk with him.
Hoby and Matt go to Jed's office and Hoby says that he wants Matt locked up on suspicion. Jed refuses and confirms that Matt's gun wasn't fired. Hoby says that he tells Jed to tell the townspeople that no one packs a gun except for him and Jed, and he's there to find out what happened to Will. Matt readily hands over his gun and leaves, and Jed says that if he had shot at Hoby he wouldn't have missed. He gives Hoby Will's badge and Bible, and Hoby points out that it isn't something a hard-drinking Ranger would carry.
That night, a boy named Peter grants Will from the café. His mother Millie reluctantly invites him in, and Hoby orders supper. Once peter goes to the kitchen, Millie asks Hoby why he came. He says that he's there to help, and she tells him to leave Alpine. When she complains about Will, Peter overhears her and says that it's a lie, and Will was his friend.
Outside, three drunken ranchers start firing shots into the air. When Hoby comes over, Jed stops him and says that they're just having fun, and warns that they'll never give up their guns. Hoby confronts them anyway, knocks them down after one knocks a bottle over his head, and takes them off to jail. Jed says that they can hold court in his office and they go inside. The ranchers plead guilty and Jed fines them $1 each. Hoby objects but Jed says that's his sentence. When Hoby refuses to give their guns, their leader Seth say that no rancher in the territory will stay in Alpine until Hoby leaves. Jed gets Matt's gun, goes to the saloon, and gives Matt his gum back.
Back at the café, Peter boasts about what Hoby saw. Millie tends to Hoby's head wound, and he asks if she likes raising Peter in Alpine. He asks what everybody is afraid of, and Hoby figures that whoever shot at him figured that he'd gun down Jerry and was out to discredit the Rangers. Millie says that Alpine is in the middle of cow country, and if the ranchers stay away from Alpine then the town dries up. The next nearest railway spine is a hundred miles away, and the ranchers have threatened to go there if they don't let them have the run of the town. Jed keeps the ranchers happy in return for 5% of what they spend, and Millie warns that they can't afford to lose the ranchers' business. She points out the empty straight and quickly gets Hoby inside as Matt walks out. Millie says that they're trying to bait Hoby into a gunfight, same as they did with will, and Hoby says that it won't happen.
Matt calls Hoby out and invites him to take his gun away. Jed watches from the shadows as Hoby takes off his gun belt and goes outside. He tells Matt that he's not packing, and Matt tells him that Hoby is worth $500. Matt tells Hoby to get his gun, and Hoby says that if a Ranger is killed then he'll be unarmed and the Rangers will come in force and martial arts will take over. He warns that the street will be emptier than ever, and Jed goes inside. Matt says that they'll meet again and walks away because he figures that he won't get paid if he shoots down Hoby.
The next morning, Ben, Sal, Jed, and the general store manager Gig approach Hoby at the hotel. Ben explains that Hoby is bad for business, Hoby points out that he ranchers could hurt any of their families or torch their businesses. He tells them to stop living on their knees, and says that the ranchers need them as much as they need the ranchers. One of the townspeople offers Hoby $3,000 to get rid of him. Hoby says that his badge isn't for sale, and if they bring law and order back to Alpine then they'll have decency to go with their prosperity. Sal figures that they don't have much of a choice, and the townspeople leave the money as they go. Hoby tosses it to Jed, who promises that he'll outlast Hoby.
Later, Hoby rides out to the range and confirms that the cattle are still there. He rides back into Alpine and waits, figuring that the ranchers will break first. Peter rides into town and says that the ranchers are coming back to Alpine. Everyone cheers, and the ranchers ride in and hand over their guns. Sal invites them into her saloon, and Gig tells Hoby that they'll be a soon election soon. Jed glares at Hoby, and then goes for his gun. Gig shouts a warning, and Hoby dives and then shoots Jed dead.
Once things settle down, Hoby rides out now that Alpine is a nice place to live.
Written by Gadfly on Jun 25, 2017