Bret is playing poker at the saloon. He wins and collects his winnings, unaware that The Kid is watching him. The Kid goes outside and when Bret walks by, trains his gun on him and demands his $3,000 in winnings. He says that he doesn't want to have to pull the trigger but will if he has to. Bret tries to fight but The Kid knocks him out and leaves.
Once Bret recovers, he tracks down The Kid to the town of White Rock. He asks a man about The Kid, and the man says that there's a boy matching The Kid's description who has been at the Paradise Saloon taking on all comers at poker. Bret goes there and sees The Kid at the poker table. The gambler checks into the nearby saloon rather than confront The Kid.
After sunset, Bret cleans up and heads for the saloon. He hears gunshots and runs in, and finds the players putting The Kid's corpse up on the table. One man says that The Kid lost and accused the other players of losing. The Sheriff says that The Kid lost almost $3,000 to everyone in town. As Bret leaves, he sees a woman--Mary Shane--sitting and crying. He offers her his coat against the chill and asks what the matter is, and Mary finally explains that she had a fight with a man she was engaged to, and he walked off and left her there. Bret offers to drive her home in a buggy, and they go eight miles out of town where Mary lives. She apologizes for going to pieces, and Bret says that her man is a gambler... leaving Mary alone. Mary insists that her fiancé is no gambler.
They come to a bridge and Mary warns that it can be dangerous in the dark. She walks on ahead to check out if it's safe. Mary disappears into the dark and Bret goes to check on her. Back in town, he talks to the stableman who confirms that there's no bridge and no one named Shane lives in town. There's a woman living at Mrs. Clemmer's boarding house that matches Mary's description. The stableman advises Bret to let it go, but Bret points out that Mary still has his coat with $1,000 pinned inside.
Bret goes to the boarding house and knocks at the door. Mrs. Clemmer tells him that Mary did live there but she died a week ago. Bret goes to the Sheriff and tells him what happened, and the Sheriff figures that Bret is either drunk or delusional. He knows Mary before she died, and says that she was a well-respected woman. She was engaged to Bert Nicholson, who runs the hardware store. The Sheriff warns that it's not a good idea to interrupt Bert when he's mourning.
The next day, Bret rides out to where Mary vanished. He sees his court on a gravestone in the nearby cemetery, with the $1,000 pinned inside. Mary's gravestone is nearby. Bret rides back into town and someone takes a shot at him with a rifle. They miss and Bret runs after them as they flee. The Sheriff and the locals arrive and Bret tells the Sheriff that someone shot at him. The lawman says that he doesn’t' believe in ghosts, and Bret points out that the man was wearing a black suit. The Sheriff says that Bert wears a suit, and he's also the town undertaker.
Bret goes to the undertaker office and Bert says that she died of a bronchial condition. He refuses to discuss it further because he finds it painful, and Bret asks where he was 45 minutes ago. Bert says that he was there preparing for The Kid's funeral, and that he doesn't own a rifle. The Sheriff and a townsman watch him and hope that Bret isn't moving into White Rock permanently.
Bert rides off on his horse at a gallop, and Bret follows him from a distance. The undertaker rides out of White Rock and comes to a rock slide.
In town, Hank Foster arrives in town.
Bert digs through the rocks, and Bret watches from a distance. When someone walks up, Bert hides and Bret rides back into White Rock. Mary watches him from a house and quickly closes the shade.
That night, Bret is drinking in the saloon. The barflies joke about Bret saying he saw a ghost. He says that the liveliest thing in town seems to be the undertaker. Hank comes over and asks what Bret's story is. The stranger has heard that someone took a shot at Bret and says that he doesn't look like a local boy. Bret says that he's just passing through and Hank wishes him well and goes to the hotel. He asks the clerk for a room on the street side, and notes that Bert has a grudge against the undertaker. The hotel clerk explains that Bert and Mary were going to get married.
Bert rides out to the rock slide and starts searching, not sure what he's looking for.
Bert is having dinner with Mary when there's a knock at the door. Mary worries that it's "him", and Bert says that there's nothing to worry about. He opens the door and Hank barges in. Hank asks where the $60,000 of Wells Fargo money is. Bert claims that he has no idea what he's talking about, and Hank figures that Bert shot at Bret because they look similar. Hank figures that Mary died nice and convenient, and she gave Bert part of the $60,000 to help fake her death. Bert says Hank's real name, Felton, and says that he hid the money in a box at the rock slide. He jumps Hank and they struggle, and Bert is shot and killed. Once Hank leaves, Mary comes in and confirms that Bert is dead.
Twenty minutes later, the Sheriff and his men confront Bert at the hotel. They put him under arrest for Bert's murder and take him to jail. The Sheriff says that the circuit judge will be in town in a week, and tells the deputy George to watch Bret carefully.
At the saloon, the locals discuss Bret. Hank listens as they say that Bret came in looking for The Kid and then gunned down Bert. The Sheriff comes in while the townspeople talk themselves into lynching Bret. The lawman smiles and says that they've got lawmen as well as cottonwood trees. He goes back to the jail and tells George to keep a shotgun nearby and make sure the place is locked up. The Sheriff walks down the street, and Hank goes to the jail and knocks at the door. George answers it and Hank claims that he's Bret's lawyer. He agrees to let George lock him in the cell so that they can talk privately once George goes outside.
Hank tells Bret that he thought he could use a friend, and warns that the townspeople are organizing a lynching party. The stranger figures that Mary is tied up with the whole thing and asks Bret to tell him the whole story. Bret figures that he's more interested in Mary than him, and Hank says that he's a special investigator for the railroad. If Bret tells him everything he knows about Mary, Hank will get him out of jail. Bret agrees and Hank says that they'll disarm George and ride out of town. He assures Bret that he won't hurt anyone, and Bret agrees.
Hank says to meet him at a grove outside of town and calls George in to let him out. The deputy does so and makes himself comfortable, and Hank busts in the window and trains a gun on George. Hank has George take Bret's place and sends Bret on ahead. As he goes, Bret hears two gunshots and sees Hank run out of the jail.
Later, Hank arrives at the grove and meets with Bret. Bret draws a gun on him and asks about the shots, and Hank claims that it was someone in the saloon. The gambler points out that the saloon was closed and confirms that Hank fired his gun twice. Bret isn't happy that Hank framed him for a second murder, and Hank attacks him. The two men fight and Bret finally knocks his rescuer out.
Once Bret ties Hank up, he goes to the rock slide and finds Mary digging through the rocks. She finally locates a box, and Bret tosses a rock to get her looking the other way. Mary aims a rifle in the direction of the noise, and Bret ropes her and then comes over. She figures that Bret is Hank and tells him that it wasn't her husband's idea to break out of prison, and he wrote saying that Bret planned the break and killed the guard. Once Bret found out about the holdup money, he killed her husband and then came to White Rock and killed Bert. Bret plays along and Mary says that all of the money is there except $600 that she used to live on.
Bret turns his back on Mary, who grabs her rifle and tells him to drop his guns and then dig up the money. Mary says that she's going to turn the money into the company, and she didn't originally because she promised her husband that she'd wait until he got back. As Bret digs, Hank says that she fell in love with Bert but didn't tell him about the money until she read about the jail break. They came to get the money but the rock slide had buried it. Bret figures that Mary played dead so her husband would ride on when he got there, and Mary and Bert could get married.
Once Bret digs up the box, he tells Mary that he took the precaution of unloading the rifle figuring that she would talk. He explains that he's not Hank and they'll head back in to town. As they go, Mary says that Bert saw Bert at the saloon and had Mary lure him out in the buggy. Bert was going to kill Bret, but The Kid was killed and they came to get Bert, and he couldn't get out of it.
Bret and Mary ride to the grove and Hank tells Bret that he wants to talk in private. Mary asks Hank if her husband is dead, and Hank all but admits that he killed him.
The next morning, the trio ride into town. The Sheriff comes out as the townspeople gather. Later at the saloon, Bret tells everyone what happened. The Sheriff says that they got a telegram about the two convicts, and the townspeople are glad to have Bret say until the $3,000 reward come in. The men offer to let Bret play poker, and Bret feigns being a newbie as he starts dealing.
Written by Gadfly on May 19, 2019