Bret gambles in a saloon, and emerges that night, patting his wallet, and crosses the street. Knocking on a window, he is told by a man working ata desk that the bank is closed. Bret keeps knocking and gets the manto come to the door. The man, bank manager John Bates, asks what Bret wants and Bret offers to pay a service charge if he'll put his $15,000 in the safe. He gives Mr. Bates the money, receives a receipt, and is told that there will be no service charge.
The next morning Bret returns to the bank to withdraw some of his money. However, Bates claims he has never seen Bret before and that the signature on the receipt isn't his. Ben Granville, co-owner of the bank, confirms. Bret tells the banker he's going to give him the $15,000 before he leaves Sunny Acres. Bates sends for the sheriff.
Bates and Sheriff Griffin find Bret sitting in front of his hotel, whittling. Bret denies threatening Bates and informs the sheriff that he can't up and move on because he's just paid two weeks room rent in advance. He continues to maintain that Bates owes him $15,000 and says by the time his rent is up he'll leave Sunny Acres--with his money. Griffin says that no one ever got a nickel out of Bates and that Bret is in trouble if anything happens to Bates.
Townsfolk continue to come up to Bret and laughingly inquire if he's got his $15,000 yet. Bret just sits there, rocking and whittling, and says "I'm workin' on it." Mr. Granville's daughter, Susan, comes by to tell Bret that she believes him and would like to help, but she's distressed that he doesn't seem to be doing anything. Bret tells her that he's thinking about it and that that's important. Susan reveals that she thinks Bates is dishonest and is going to use the money to buy out her father's share of the bank, which would be bad for the town. Bret assures her: "I'm workin' on it".
Bates comes by and tells Bret that Bret isn't worrying him, and that he carries a gun. The townspeople laugh after Bates walks away, asking Bret if he's got his $15,000 and Bret just says that he's workin' on it."
That night, Mr. Granville
comes by to see Bret.
Granville informs him that the bank became the sole property of Bates that day. Just after Bret assures him once again that he's
"workin' on it," the stage pulls up and Bart steps out. They
ignore each other and Bart registers in the hotel under an alias, Mansfield.
As they days go by and Bret continues to whittle, Bart asks a man where the Sunny Acres flour mill might be. Although he's told that the mill's been closed down for a year, he says that he's interested in it as it stands and goes off to rent a horse. That night as Bart is eating dinner, Bates shows up to welcome Bart and to inquire as to his interest in the flour mill, a property on which the bank holds a lien. Bart claims to represent the interests of "British financiers" who are investing in the future growth of the great American West. The two men quickly arrive at a $75,000 price for the mill, a figure which appears to be overly inflated.
The next day as a reporter--Henry Hibbs--tries to find out what Bret is going to do about the $15,000, Griffin comes up and wants to know if he's still leaving when his room rent is up--in three days. Bret assures him that he'll have his money by then.
That evening as Bart has dinner with Bates, he
explains that he's about to move up in the world by earning a fortune in
a stock deal, but he isn't free to reveal the details. Bates insists
that Bart should consult him as his banker, that the West is full of confidence
men: "After all, if you can't trust your banker, Bartley, who can you
trust?". Bart begins to reel in his fish by telling a tale about the
Nevada Empress Silver Mine--a worthless stock which will soon, however,
be quite valuable. He claims to be buying up the stock for pennies a
share to sell to his principals for a dollar a share. Bart convinces
Bates to accompany him to Denver the next day so he can see for himself
that it's no pipe dream.
In Denver, they meet the widowed Mrs. Watson, a stock seller who is actually Samantha Crawford, an "associate'" of the Mavericks. Bart "buys" her Nevada Empress stock for $750 (returning to collect the $300 she "mistakenly"' neglected to return to him). Soon after, the two men visit a brokerage office where Gentleman Jack Darby (another Maverick crony) pretends to be an employee and claims that Schaffer isn't in. Bart takes Bates to what is supposed to be Mr. Schaffer's private office. Once there, Mr. Ralph Schaffer (actually Dandy Jim Buckley, another Maverick "associate") "buys" the "worthless" stock for $15,000 cash. Bates wants in on the deal, badly. Once they leave, Dandy Jim's secretary--another Maverick friend, Cindy Lou Brown--joins Dandy Jim as he removes the fake name plate from the office door and leaves.
Next the two men visit Ambrose Callahan, the supposed owner of the Denver Plaza Hotel (who is secretly another Maverick associate, Big Mike McComb). Big Mike goes to Callahan's office saying that he is looking for a job. Callahan refuses and as Big Mike leaves, the bellboy who Big Mike has paid off identifies him as Callahan. Big Mike refuses to sell his 100,000 shares for less than $30,000 and the full amount only. Bates begins seeing an opening.
The two men return to Shady Acres and the next day Bates reveals that he knows where they can lay their hands on 40,000 shares of Empress stock--but he wants in on the deal. Bret has to stall him. By the time the pair go out to see a real stock seller, Mr. Ernest Plunkett, at his farm, the old man says he gave the stock to his granddaughter who went further West and he no longer owns the stock... because Bret has paid him $100 to say so. Bates tells Bart that he'll come up with the extra $15,000 to buy Callahan's stock, and threatens to expose him if he doesn't agree to take him on as a partner.
The two of them return to Denver and pay $30,000 to Big Mike for 50,000 shares each. Bates quickly leaves, and Bart and Big Mike share a chuckle. Bart then hurries back to Shady
Acres, Bates goes to Mr. Shaffer's "office " only to find a For Rent
sign on the door. Shaken, he rushes to the brokerage office only to
discover that Schaffer retired five years ago. Bates now realizes
that he has been taken and that Bret has indeed gotten his money
In Shady Acres, before leaving town, Bart tells Mr. Granville that perhaps he should check the bank's books because Mr. Bates may have embezzled $15,000. Bates is caught and, according to the local newspaper, admits embezzling the funds but won't explain why--after which Mr. Granville resumes the Presidency of the bank.
As Bret departs on the stage (with the whole town knowing that he got his money back, but not knowing how), he gives his unfinished whittling to Griffin and says "Sheriff, it isn't often I can say this, I feel like I'm leavin' Sunny Acres a better place than I found it." As the stage rides off, the empty chair where he sat is still rocking.
Written by Gadfly on Apr 9, 2019