Eight years earlier, at Junction Flats, Wyoming, Sheriff Morrison Pyne arrested Hognose Hughes. Hognose soon escaped jail, leaving Pyne tied up, and killed 13 citizens on the way out.
Bret rides into Broken Wheel and looks into the community center. He sees Dandy Jim playing cards and tries to leave, but Dandy Jim sees him. Dandy Jim asks Bret if he has money, and Bret keeps walking. When Dandy Jim follows him, Bret insists that he doesn't have money. Dandy Jim says that he's embraced an honest living, and tells Bret that he needs $2,000 as a loan and Bret is going to give it to him. He explains that a corporation needs horses, and they'll pay a commission on every horse. Tempted despite himself, Bret asks what the "corporation"'s grift is, Dandy Jim insists there's no con and guarantees Bret $4,000 back on his $2,000. Curious to find out what's going on, Bret agrees to loan Dandy Jim the $2,000.
Over the next few days, Dandy Jim actually buys horses with the $2,000. One morning Bret notices that the town streets are empty. When Bret goes out, the saloon keeper tells him that they found gold in Cobbs Creek and everyone is heading there. The saloon keeper buys a horse from Dandy Jim, paying the exorbitant price that he asks. Bret draws a gun on Dandy Jim as he tries to take Bret's horse, and Dandy Jim says that they have $10,000 and he doesn't need to go to Cobbs Creek. Dandy Jim finally admits that he faked the claim. The townspeople ride back, and Dandy Jim suggests that they go somewhere that they can talk.
Bret and Dandy Jim ride out of town with the townspeople in pursuit. They hide and divvy up the money, and Bret goes to sleep. When he wakes up, he discovers that he's tied up by the feet. His $1,000 is missing, and Bret figures that Dandy Jim headed on so he can half-kill him. He rides into the next town and confirms with the bartender that Junction Flats where Hognose broke out. The bartender warns that Pyne is touchy on the subject. Bret asks if the bartender has seen Dandy Jim, and the bartender says that P.T. Barnum arrived in town. He accused a local, Leroy, of cheating, they exchanged shots, and the local was badly wounded. The townspeople figure they'll hang "Barnum" if the local dies, and Pyne is Leroy's husband. The bartender suggests that Pyne wouldn't mind if someone broke into the now-inescapable jail and killed "Barnum", saving the town the cost of a hanging. The man notes that "Barnum"--Dandy Jim--lost all of his money in poker before the shooting happened: $75. The bartender shows Bret where the jail is: on the corner, and built to replace the old one.
Bret poses as a law student and talks to Pyne, warning that hanging Dandy Jim before the trial would be a blow to the town's reputation. He doesn't ask for pay and asks to talk to Dandy Jim. Pyne agrees and gets the keys from the safe, saying that he's the only one who has the combination. He has his deputy, George, search Bret, and then lets him into Dandy Jim's cell past two gates. Pyne refuses to let Bret into Dandy Jim's cell, and Dandy Jim insists that he's innocent and only shot back in self-defense.
Pyne refuses to leave Bret alone with Dandy Jim, and Bret threatens to tell the public until Pyne gives in. Once Pyne leaves, Bret grabs Dandy Jim through the bars and asks where the money is. Dandy Jim refuses to tell Bret where the money is unless Bret breaks him out of jail. Bret makes him swear Leroy drew first, and they haggle over how much Bret will get. Dandy Jim finally agrees to three to one, and Bret leaves when Pyne comes back to get him.
Bret leaves and checks the outside of the jail, and finally locates a cellar window next door at Milady's Dresses. He goes in and talks to the owner, Madame Higgins, asking for a tie-back dress. She goes in the back to find one, and Bret opens the cellar door to confirm it's there. When Higgins comes back with a black dress, he asks for a red dress and she goes back to find one. Bret goes out to his horse, gets a bundle, and goes back in. He then goes into the cellar and when Higgins comes back, she's surprised to discover Bret isn't there.
In the cellar, Bret unpacks his digging tools and covers over the window. Through the night, Bret breaks through the dividing wall between the cellar and the jail. The next morning, Dandy Jim hears digging from the floor.
Higgins comes into the shop and hears the digging and then Bret breaking through the roof of the tunnel. She quickly runs out, and Bret hears the door shut. Higgins returns with a townsman, who assures her that it's mice. They go into the cellar to investigate and Bret punches the townsman. The two men fight while Bret tries to avoid making more noise to attract the other townspeople. Dandy Jim listens from his cell, and Bret tries to keep a cart falling while keeping Higgins from running. Once he knocks the townsman out, Bret ties Higgins up.
Bret finishes breaking through the ceiling. Pyne brings Dandy Jim his meal, and Dandy Jim plays a harmonica to cover the noise Bret is making and stomps a boot on the floor to indicate Bret should stop digging. Once Pyne leaves for the night, Dandy Jim plays to cover the noise of Bret's digging. When George complains, Jim Dandy sings and George joins in.
The next morning, Pyne returns and moans in anguish when he discovers Dandy Jim has escaped through the floor.
Outside of Junction Flat, Bret and Dandy Jim split up the money with Bret holding his gun. Dandy Jim suggests that Bret doesn't want the money on his conscience, but Bret isn't impressed and ties Dandy Jim up. He says that he's doing it for Dandy Jim's own good, and he's going back to clear Dandy Jim's name and his own as well.
Later, Bret goes back into town and meets with Pyne. Pyne says that Leroy is recovering, and asks Bret where Dandy Jim is. Bret asks for Pyne's guarantee that Dandy Jim won't be lynched if he returns Dandy Jim to the jail. Pyne says that Leroy woke up and admitted that he drew first, clearing Dandy Jim of the murder charge. However, Pyne arrests Bret for engineering a jailbreak since he's noticed the dirt under Bret's fingernails.
Once Bret is locked up, Pyne leaves after putting George in charge. Bret waits for Dandy Jim to rescue him, calculating how long it will take Dandy Jim to free himself, realize that Bret hid the money, and find out that Bret is in jail. George and Bret play cards and Dandy Jim knocks at the jail door. When George looks through the peephole, Dandy Jim says that he's giving himself up to justice. George brings him in at gunpoint. George doesn't have the keys to the cells since Pyne locks them up in the safe, and Dandy Jim kicks the gun out of George' hand. After handcuffing George to the cell bars, Dandy Jim starts safecracking. He warns that it will take a while.
At home, Mrs. Pyne discovers that her husband couldn't sleep. He figures something is wrong and starts to go to the jail, but Mrs. Pyne tells him that he isn't getting paid to work 24 hours a day and he should come to bed.
As Dandy Jim works, he figures George is waiting for Pyne to come back. Pyne finally returns and knocks at the door. He comes in and finds George handcuffed to the bars and the safe open. Dandy Jim comes up on Pyne and holds him at gunpoint, and Bret joins him. Dandy Jim insists on locking Pyne up in the cell, and Pyne begs them to kill him rather than leave him caught like Hognose did eight years ago. The two men refuse and leave.
The two men ride out of Junction Flats and divide up the money. As Dandy Jim prepares to ride off, he asks what happened to Hognose. Bret says that Hognose got hold of bad chili and died in agony, and Dandy Jim rides off singing. After a short distance, he turns back and rides off after Bret. Bret figured he would, hid, and rides off the way Dandy Jim was going.
Later, Bret makes camp. Dandy Jim finds him and trains a buffalo rifle on him that he trained on him. He ties Bret up, takes the money, and rides off, singing.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 6, 2019