In the town of Easton, a clerk, Ethan Phelps, breaks into the Texas R.R. depot's safe and steals the money. He puts a stick of dynamite inside, leads the fuse out of the door, and walks over two dead men. Ethan then puts in guns near each of their hands puts down a couple of bundles of money, and musses himself up. Finally Ethan lights the fuse, and takes cover. The dynamite explodes and the door absorbs most of the blast. Ethan runs out to a man is waiting, gives him the bag with the money, and tells him to ride out before the townspeople arrive. The rider draws his gun and shoots Ethan before Ethan can draw, and then calmly rides off into the night.
A few days later, Hoby is preparing to head out on vacation when he's interrupted by a message from Sheriff Joe French. He arrives in Easton and meets Joe at the depot. Hoby goes in and finds Joe checking the safe. Joe explains that two of the dead men are George Astor and Crazy Ernie. It looks like George and Ernie came in to rob the bank, and Ethan came in and was shot. Ethan is at the doc's and it's not sure if he'll make it. Hoby figures that it's cut-and-dried, but Joe shows him the money he found on the bodies. There's only a couple hundred dollars, but there was $9,000 in the safe. Ethan had told Joe a couple days earlier that he was afraid someone might take it. They found tracks out back and Joe figures there was three men in on the deal. They money was being shipped from Dallas to Sabine, making it Ranger business. Joe explains that the roads have been watched since they heard the safe go, so the man with the money is still in Easton. The town has a population of 700 and there's no suspects.
Hoby and Joe visit the doc, Jed, who explains that Ethan took the bullet in the lung and lost a lot of blood. Jed refuses to let them question his patient, and Ethan's wife Larissa is outside. When they go out, Joe tells Larissa that there's no change. Hoby asks her if she knows if Ethan talked to anyone about the money in the safe. Hew asks if they owed any money, and Joe takes offense. Larissa says that they're not rich but they paid their debts.
At the saloon, the customers are talking about how Joe can't do the job while the bartender, Charlie, serves drinks. One of them, Dan Cutler is leading the talk against Joe. He asks Hoby what he's done, and figures that whoever stole the money and shot Ethan isn't going to get away with it. They know there was a third man involved, and Dan complains that Hoby isn't doing anything. Hoby tells him that he's shooting his mouth off, and tells Dan that it's a law matter and it'll be handled like one. The Ranger tells all of the men that if they capture the gunman then they should turn him over to Joe. Dan says that Ethan is a friend of all of them, and there isn't a more honest man in town. He advises Hoby to stay out of their way and the other men agree. Hoby pays Charlie for his drink and goes.
Hoby leaves and a man, Helen Farr, calls to him from an alley. When Hoby comes over, Helen says that he was supposed to be at the depot and Ethan hired all three of them together. He said the job was easy and they'\d get a dollar apiece, and he got drunk and didn't make it. Helen tells Hoby that Ethan the angel everyone thinks, and at the station Ethan was with a girl, Sherry LaMare. Sherry lives at the hotel, and Hoby pays him for his information.
At the hotel, Hoby discovers that Sherry is staying in the President's Suite. She offers him champagne and claims that she doesn't know Ethan. Hoby asks how she pays for the suite, and Sherry finally says that she came from Ropesville. He excuses himself and Sherry kisses him. Hoby doesn't respond, and Sherry slaps him. She orders him out and says that if he comes around again she'll have him killed.
The next day, Hoby goes to the sheriff's office. Joe says that he telegraphed to Austin and learned that Ethan is an escaped convict. He went to jail for armed robbery... in Ropesville.
Larissa is tending to Ethan in the doctor's office when Hoby and Joe arrive. She tells Joe that Ethan never said what he did before he came to Easton. Jed checks Hoby and tells the Ranger that Ethan won't wake up and he'll probably die that night. Larissa breaks into tears and Ethan wakes up. Hoby asks him who shot him, but Ethan passes out again. The Ranger tells Joe that he knows why and how, but he needs to find out who.
Dan is playing cards at the saloon when Hoby comes in. As Dan rides the Ranger, Joe comes in and says that he's been talking to Jed. Hoby has ordered him to bring Ethan around so he can talk, but the strain might kill Ethan. Dan advises Hoby not to do it, and Hoby says that it's going to be done. He assures Joe that he'll turn the killer over to him and leaves.
The killer slips into Ethan's room through the window and draws a knife. Hoby opens the door and the killer throws the knife at him and makes a run for it. The Ranger finally knocks the man down, and Joe comes in to discover that the killer is Charlie. Charlie claims that he came there to talk to Ethan, and the two lawmen say that Ethan died that afternoon. Hoby explains that Sherry knew Ethan up in Ropesville, and she came to Easton and blackmailed Ethan. It wasn't enough, and she and Charlie got the idea for the robbery. Charlie convinced Ethan to do it, and then shot Ethan so he only had to split the money 50/50. The bartender figures that Sherry told them and confesses, promising to get to Sherry and kill her.
Later, Joe and Hoby tell Larissa what happened. Hoby gives her the reward for getting the money back, and points out that Ethan died trying to stop the thieves. He doesn't tell her that Ethan was involved, and Joe sees Hoby to his horse. Hoby says that there were no marks on the safe, which meant that it must have been opened by an inside man.
Written by Gadfly on Jul 6, 2017