Bret arrives in the town of Medicine Bow and goes to the Red Dog Saloon. He orders a drink and chats with the bartender, who offers him a drink on the house as a newcomer. When Bret gives his name, everyone in the saloon glares at him. The bartender throws the drink in Bret's face and he demands to know what's going on. Another man, Fred Grady, comes at Bret with a bar sledge, and Bret disarms him, draws his gun, and runs out. He goes to his horse and the patrons follow him, and everyone grabs him. Sheriff Lem Watson fires his gun into the air and tells everyone to back down. When Grady says who Bret is, Lem tells them that he's taking Bret to jail and the law is the law.
Once he's in a cell, Bret asks Lem why he's arrested. Lem says that he cheated people out of their money and killed the lawyer. He tells Bret that his trial will be a short one then they'll hang him legal. Bret asks for a lawyer and Lem agrees that he's entitled to one. The best lawyers in town are trying the case, and Lem suggests that there's a new lawyer in town, Luke Abigor, and goes to get him.
Later, a stage arrives in town and Melanie Blake gets out. The men all fight over helping her out of stage. Melanie goes into the hotel and says that she's traveling alone, and she asks if Bret is stopping there. The clerk says that he's stopping in jail and tells her why.
Luke comes to the jail and Lem lets him into Bret's cell. The lawyer is an astrologer and tells Bret that the signs aren't good. He's done a numerology reading on Bret's name and says that the signs are wrong to discuss Bret's case so he'll come back tomorrow. As Luke goes, he checks Bret's palm and says that his life line comes to a sudden end. A crowd gathers outside and Lem admits that something is fishy about the whole thing but he's going to follow the law. He tells Bret that he'll have to turn up evidence that someone used his name even if he's locked up per the law.
Melanie comes in and Bret recognizes her. She motions to him to keep quiet, and then introduces herself to Lem. Melanie says that she's with the Wyoming Women for Prison Reform and is there to inspect the facilities. Lem and the jailer, Jud, go out to check on the crowd. Melanie says that she's been looking for Bret and congratulates him on the scheme he pulled off. She wants to do the same thing in another town. Bret explains that he's waiting for his hanging and hasn't murdered anyone. He asks how Melanie plans to get him out of jail, and she comes up with an idea.
Outside, Lem disperses the crowd. Melanie tells Lem that Bret hasn't had a meal, and Lem tells Jud to take care of things while he takes an hour off for everything. Melanie gets Bret his food and takes it into his tray. She drops the tray and Bret punches Jud unconscious. They slip out the back and Bret figures that they should wait until the posse takes off after him and then go in the opposite direction. He convinces Melanie that someone framed him, and has Melanie explain what "his" scheme was. Melanie says that the mayor got a letter from the mayor in town about shipping cattle using Medicine Bow as a railhead. The letter about the shipping was from the River Development Company and signed by Bret Maverick. The mayor went to Kyle to see Maverick, came back, and sold the idea to the townspeople. They raised $15,000 and sent it to Maverick, Maverick disappeared with the money, and the mayor was killed when he went to Kyle. Nobody in Medicine Bow saw the killer but people in Kyle did, and Bret figures that they should find the witnesses in Kyle.
Bret and Melanie arrive in Kyle and Bret questions a townsman about the River Development Company. He isn't very helpful, and Melanie turns on the charm and gets him to talk. Bret and Melanie go to the office and find the door unlocked. Inside, they find the place cleaned out. Lem comes in, gun drawn, and Melanie says that the jailbreak was her idea and she kidnapped Bret. Lem concedes the place and Bret points out that he came there to find out what really happened. He points out that going to Medicine Bow and tossing his name around would be stupid. Lem agrees but says that he doesn't have any evidence, and it's his duty to take him back for trial. He gives Bret 24 hours to find him evidence that will clear his name.
Luke comes in and figures that the criminal would return to the scene of the crime. He agrees to help Bret clear him and stays there with Melanie while Bret and Lem go downtown to ask some questions. Lem confirms Melanie's birth date and says that they're both Capricorns, but she isn't interested in him. Once Melanie goes into the second office to search the place, Lem removes a ledger from a drawer. Melanie notices but pretends that she hasn't seen anything.
Bret and Lem ask around and find no one who recognizes Bret. The bartender, Charlie Turple, has seen Maverick come out of the River Development Company, and says that it's Bret. Lem figures that's enough to prove Bret's guilt and says they'll leave in the morning.
Luke reads Melanie's palm and says that a tall dark man will enter her life and have money. He insists that he doesn't have the money, and Bret and Lem come back. They go to the hotel to stay, and Bret insists that he never saw Charlie or vice versa. He knocks out the sheriff, takes his gun, and goes to confront Charlie. Bret tells the man to go to the back room, flashing his gun, and then says that Charlie was clever to use the name "Maverick" to pull of his swindle. Charlie jumps him and they fight, and Bret finally knocks him out. Lem comes in holding his spare gun and tells Bret to drop his gun.
Back the hotel, Lem, Bret, and Melanie play cards and Lem admits that he would have slugged him if he were Bret. Melanie says that there's something peculiar about Luke, and insists that Bret had nothing to do with a swindle. Lem admits that he almost believed Bret until he talked to Charlie, but all he can do is bring him back. Melanie says that she can't get up that early and isn't going to desert Bret, and manages to get Lem to delay four hours.
Luke gives Charlie $5,000 of the $15,000 that he made in the swindle. Charlie says that the mayor started yelling so he had to kill him, and Luke says that all of the stars are in favor of them. Once Charlie leaves, Luke checks with Bret and the others and confirms that they haven't found anything. Melanie asks Luke to sit in for her, and as she leaves Charlie watches her go to Luke's room.
Melanie searches Luke's things and finds the $10,000 share of the money. Charlie comes in, gun drawn, and says that they'll wait for Luke. When he comes back, he shows her the ledger, tosses it on the bed, and invites her to pick it up. He tells Charlie that Melanie can't hurt them and Melanie finds a list of names that Luke crossed off until he came to "Bret Maverick". Luke shows Melanie the money and Melanie claims that she adores astrology. Charlie figures that they'll have to take Melanie with them and they can talk about it later, and Melanie says that she should tell Bret and Lem good night so they don't suspect anything. Luke agrees but goes with her and keeps a gun secretly trained on her.
They go to Lem's room and Luke waits out in the hallway as Melanie says goodnight and says that 5:30 is too late. As she leaves with Luke, she secretly drops the journal on the hallway floor. Bret realizes that something is wrong, and he and Lem go out in the hallway. Lem finds the ledger and realizes that it's Luke's astrological diary, complete with an entry about the day Charlie shot the mayor. They confirm that Luke and Melanie are gone and head for the stable. Luke and Charlie are preparing to leave, and Luke shoots at Lem and Bret when they come in.
Bret circles around to the back and goes in. Charlie hears him and goes attacks him, and the two fight Lem comes in but Luke holds him at gunpoint, but Melanie stomps on his foot, grabs his money, and runs. The sheriff ducks out as Luke recovers and shoots at him. Luke and Lem exchange shots until Luke runs out of bullets. Lem comes in and shoots Charlie, and Bret goes after Melanie. She rides out of town with the money, and Bret jumps aboard her carriage and stops her. She claims that she was going for help and Bret figures that she was going to help herself.
Later back in Medicine Bow, Lem releases Bret and says that the people would be glad to have Bret stay around for a while and get their money back at the poker table. Bret declines and talks to Luke, who says that numerologically, "Bret Maverick" was the luckiest name he could find. Luke says that he returned to Medicine Bow because he figured no one would look for him there. Bret goes out and prepares to ride out with Melanie, who says that she has Luke's dialogue and they can use it to find a town to run a swindle. Bret quickly refuses.
Written by Gadfly on Apr 7, 2019