Hoby spends three months tracking outlaw Blaine Sands to a cabin and waits the man and his partner out. Blaine finally yells that they're coming out if Hoby doesn't shoot. Hoby tells them to toss the guns out first, and Blaine does so and comes out, hands on his head. He tells Jeremy to come out, but Jeremy refuses until Blaine orders him to. Jeremy comes out and Hoby is shocked to see that Jeremy is a 15-year-old boy. The Ranger comes down and Jeremy tells him that they wouldn't have surrendered except that they ran out of shells.
The next day, Hoby takes the Sands into El Paso and turns them over to the sheriff. Blaine had picked up Jeremy six weeks earlier and they had ridden together ever since. The deputy, Hodges, tells Hoby that he has to get Jeremy out of there because he's driving him nuts. Jeremy keeps the other prisoners awake all night pounding on the bars, and refuses to eat. Hoby says that Jeremy has no place to go, but Hodges says that either Hoby takes him or he'll throw the boy out on the street.
Jeremy starts a fire in his cell and Blaine laughs and then calls for Hodges. Hoby and Hodges put out the fire and drag him to the office. The deputy tells Hoby to get Jeremy out or he'll beat him. Hoby takes the boy's arm and advises him to come with him. After a moment, Jeremy walks out and Hoby follows him.
Hoby takes Jeremy to his hotel room and gives him a bath. He asks if Jeremy has anyone to stay with, and the boy says that Blaine will get out eventually. Jeremy hates lawmen, and figures that Hoby doesn't like Blaine because he stood up to him. Hoby points out that Blaine robbed a bank and killed a man, and Jeremy says that his father was in the bank on business and the clerk pulled a gun for no reason. Jeremy insists that people keep making trouble for Blaine, and he ran from Hoby because he figured the law wouldn't believe him. Hoby says that he has to ride north to see some people and Jeremy can come with him, and they'll be back in time for Blaine's trial.
The Ranger and Jeremy ride two days to a cattle town, Hooperville. Blaine lived there and robbed and killed. He meets with Sheriff Dobson and asks to talk to the witnesses. The witnesses talk about how brutal Blaine was when he lived there. The bank president testifies that Blaine robbed the bank and shot one of the clerks dead, even though the clerk offered no resistance. Jeremy doesn't believe him and storms out, and Hoby goes after him. The boy insists that the president is lying, and insists that no one hurt him. Jeremy suggests that Hoby talk to Blaine's friends, and Hoby agrees.
At the town saloon, Hoby and Jeremy find Blaine's girlfriends. She hates Blaine, one of the biggest cowards she ever met. Next, Hoby talks to Duke Kincaid, a former "acquaintance" who he's never gotten the better of. Duke is playing cards, and Hoby asks for his opinion of Blaine. The man says that no one was a friend of Blaine because Blaine was always trying to form a gang of other no-goods and cut people down. Duke figures that Blaine was crazy, and tells Hoby to leave. Hoby challenges him and Duke asks if he's going to draw or leave. The Ranger says that he'll see him later and leaves. Jeremy walks out and Hoby goes after him. The boy tells Hoby to stay away from him and never talk about Blaine again.
That night, Hoby goes back to the sheriff's office and says that he's having the hotel clerk keeping an eye on Jeremy. Hoby says that he'll be leaving in the morning and tells Dobson that he'll know in two weeks when he knows what happens to Blaine. The Ranger collects Jeremy and they head back to El Paso. They make camp and Hoby offers to give an explanation, but Jeremy isn't interested. They hear someone and a man, Hank Pearson, steps out of the brush. He explains that his horse hit a gopher hole and he had to put him away, and asks to use their fire. Hoby invites him to sit down and fixes him up a meal.
Blaine steps out of the forest, training a rifle on Hoby, and tells him not to move. He then has Hoby drop his gun, and Jeremy tells his father that Hoby tried to make him believe his lies. Blaine says that he walked out of the jail, thanks to Hank. They have Jeremy tie Hoby up, and Hoby points out that Blaine had his friend distract them so he could sneak up on them. He says that without the gun, Blaine is nothing. Jeremy asks his father if he could beat Hoby bare-handed. When Blaine says that he could, Jeremy tells him to do it so he won't say that Blaine is a coward. Blaine agrees to a "fair fight", then goes over and beats Hoby. When Jeremy objects, Hank holds him. Once Hoby is down on his knees, Blaine has Hoby cut Hoby loose.
The two men fight and Hoby gets the upper hand. Blaine yells for help, and Hank shoots Hoby in the shoulder. Jeremy knocks the gun out of Hank's hand, but Hank picks it up and prepares to shoot the boy. Blaine leaps on Hank and Hank shoots him dead. As Hank turns to kill Jeremy, Hoby grabs his discarded gun and shoots Hank dead before he passes out.
The next morning, Hoby buries the two men and Jeremy says that Blaine was a coward like Hoby said. Hoby tells him that Blaine was brave for trying to save someone else, and he loved Jeremy even if he never showed him until the previous night. Jeremy kneels down at his father's grave and Hoby goes to his horse to wait for the boy.
Written by Gadfly on Jul 7, 2017