In a hotel in Springfield, MO, Jenny Hill sings with her pianist Carl playing accompaniment, and Bret is in the audience applauding with the others. Afterward, Jenny goes to her dressing room, and her manager Professor Vegelius tells her admires that she has to rest. Once they're alone, Jenny tells Vegelius that Bret was there again.
The next day, Bret catches a stage out of town and finds himself sharing it with Jenny, Carl, and Vegelius. Jenny avoids looking at Bret or responding to his conversation, and he settles down to nap. Jenny is performing that night in another town, and Bret comes in to listen. The next day, the trio leave town and Bret is in the stagecoach with them. Jenny wonders to Carl why Bret is following them just to listen to her, and Bret wakes up to say he's not going out of his way but just going where the mood is good when Jenny sings. Vegelius notes that he's been telling Jenny to settle in one spot, but Bret agrees with Jenny.
Jenny sings in the next town, and Bret has roses delivered to her. Later, Bret comes into the hotel lobby as Jenny and Carl go up to their rooms. The clerk gives Bret a telegram, and Carl passes on Jenny's thanks for the roses. Bret claims that he broke even in poker and is passing on his good fortune, and as he goes upstairs with Jenny, Bret discovers the telegram is from Mike McComb asking if Bret has any news.
Vegelius visits Jenny in her room and she tells him she won't be singing in the same town the next night despite Vegelius having an exorbitant contract. She reminds him that she told him from the start she would keep moving, and claims that she's just restless. Vegelius tells her that another singer wants him to manage her, and Jenny advises him to take it. The professor tells Jenny that the singer is half of what Jenny is, but Jenny tells him that she's taking the riverboat to Kansas City and Vegelius is welcome to come with her if he wants to be with her. Clearly torn, Vegelius says that he's going with the other singer and leaves.
The next day, the riverboat heads to Kansas City and Bret is on it as well. Jenny tells him that maybe he's a shy boy, and wants to know why he's following her. Bret asks why she's afraid of him, and when Jenny denies it, Bret kisses her. Jenny quickly leaves, and Carl watches from the shadows.
As the riverboat continues, Bret walks Jenny around the deck. She refuses his advances, and Bret asks if there's someone else. Jenny explains that she's a widow and her husband has only been dead for six months, and she has a son from him. Bret tells her that she'll have to stop and face the fact that he's dead and she's alive, and Jenny says that she's not ready yet. Carl steps out and asks if Jenny is ready to go to her cabin, and escorts her there.
The riverboat stops in Marthasville, Jenny finds Carl at the rail and asks if he's seen Bret. He says that Bret got off and didn't get back on, and wonders if Jenny is glad to be rid of Bret. Jenny admits that she wasn't ready, and the riverboat soon leaves.
Bret stops in a courtroom where the prosecutor is concluding the case against Mike, who is accused of murdering three men and on the stand. Mike testifies that Jim Hedges robbed the stagecoach he was on, and admits that he knew Jim. Jim pulled his gun on Mike, and two masked men showed up. A passenger went for his gun and one of the men killed him, and Jim told Mike to stand still. The robbers killed the driver and shotgun rider, but left Mike alive. Mike says that he and Jim used to be friends so Jim left him alive, and after they left when they found the lockbox only had papers, Mike drove the stagecoach into town because he paid full fare. The prosecutor then presents a phot of Jim and tells the jury that Jim was a guard at the stagecoach company depot when it was robbed and burned to the ground six months ago. Jim was killed at the time.
The jury returns a verdict of guilty, and Bret visits Mike in his cell. Bret hasn't been able to find Jim, and explains that Jim's widow Jenny hopes that he's alive but doesn't know. Mike figures they need to prove Jim is alive, and Bret figures Jenny doesn't know Jim is alive and something gave her hope that he is. The prisoner realizes that Bret doesn't like what he's doing, and Bret says if Jim wasn't alive he'd consider falling in love with Jenny. Mike isn't amused by the situation.
Jenny sings and then goes back to her dressing room. Bret is waiting and Jenny kisses him. She claims that she's flustered, and Jenny wonders why he got off the riverboat in Marthasville. Bret deflects her questions and invites her to dinner, and he opens the door to find Carl coming in. Jenny tells the disappointed Carl that she'll be having dinner with Bret, and she stays in her room to change. Carl tells Bret that Jenny missed him and says that Bret reminds her of Jim, and Bret confirms that Carl has been with Jenny a long time. The pianist explains that Jenny gave up her singing to settle down with Jim, but he never settled down. Bret figures Carl didn't like Jim much, and Carl concedes the point but notes that Jenny accepted Jim. Jenny comes out and tells Carl that she's still leaving in the morning.
The riverboat leaves town and Carl finds Jenny waiting for Bret on the deck. Jenny half-heartedly denies waiting for Bret, and Carl says that he is going to bed. Once he leaves, Bret approaches Jenny and says that he was waiting for Carl to leave. He says that he needs a job at Jenny's manager, and Jenny asks why he's been following her. Bret figures that she doesn't want a manager but does need someone who can handle the money and the talking. They haggle over Bret's salary until Jenny agrees to give him what he's asking for.
Things continue and Bret asks why they can't stay in town a few more days. He asks what she's looking for, and Jenny tells him that she's stopped looking because it doesn't exist. Jenny agrees to stay if Bret wants her to stay and kisses him goodnight. In her room, Jenny finds a gunman waiting for her with the lights out.
Jim enters his room and finds another gunman waiting for him. The gunman tells him to sit down because they have some waiting to do.
The intruder, Sam, tells Jenny that he's there with a message from Jim, and she asks why Jim is letting everyone think that he's dead. Sam says that he did it to avoid the law, and explains that Jim was their inside man at the depot. One of the robbers was killed so Jim put his personal belongings on the body to make everyone think it was him after the fire. Now Jim needs some money and figured Jenny would have cash to spare. Jenny explains that she's been traveling so Jim could find her, but Sam says that Jim can't risk visiting his wife. The singer suggests it might be a scheme to get money out of her and tells Sam to take her to Jim. Jenny refuses to give the money to anyone but Jim, and Sam agrees to tell Jim but warns that he probably won't come before leaving.
Sam goes to Bret's room and tells Bret to stay away from Jenny. They tell Bret that he won't be working for Jenny as her manager and knock him unconscious. Later, Carl wakes Bret up and Bret claims that he cut himself shaving. Carl admits that he told Jenny and she's gone for bandages, and Bret figures that Carl doesn't know Jim is alive. Jenny arrives with the bandages and Bret excuses Carl. Once Carl leaves, Bret tells Jenny that two of Jim's friends delivered Jim's message. He asks Jenny if she's sure Jim is dead, and Jenny admits that she isn't. Jenny explains that she's been looking for Jim, and was ready to accept that he was dead. She explains that Jim sent her an engagement ring five weeks ago, and had always promised to get her one. Jenny figured that Jim was in trouble if he couldn't come to her, and wondered at first if Bret was a bounty hunter. She admits that she was falling in love with Bret and can't let that happen. Bret tells her that he can't let her do it, and if get involved, it's his own fault.
At the next town, Bret watches as Jenny sings. Afterward, Bret goes to Jenny's dressing room and finds a messenger leaving. When Bret goes in, he realizes that something is wrong. Jenny tells him that Jim sent word to him but can't say what Jim told her via the messenger. She says that she used to love Jim and she married him, and Bret admits that he's been using Jenny to get to Jim. Bret explains about how he's trying to clear Mike, and says that Jim is a thief and maybe a killer. Jenny admits that she used her money to keep living in a certain style when Jim couldn't afford it, but she doesn't believe Jim is a killer. She asks Bret to let her do what she has to and then she'll testify that Jim is alive. Bret points out that he could have bought witnesses to say the same thing, and Jenny tells him that he won't get her help to prove Jim is alive.
Bret goes to the town's saloons and finally arranges a bartender to send the messenger out. He claims that Jenny forgot part of the message, and the messenger says that a fellow wanted Jenny to sing "Sweet Betsy From Pike". Bret knows the messenger has money and pays him some more for the message. Jim threatens to kill the messenger unless he tells him the truth, and the messenger says that he confirmed Jim sent Jenny the ring, and she'll be met out on the street.
Jenny goes out on the street and Bret secretly follows her. Carl gets the drop on Bret, and Bret tells him that he's going to keep following Jenny because a man's life depends on it. Bret figures that Carl won't shoot him, but Carl says that it's for Jenny. The gambler explains that Jenny is going to meet Jim, but Carl doesn't care and Bret goes with him. Men come out of a saloon and Bret shoves them into Carl and runs.
Sam and the other man, Starke, take Jenny to Jim. Bret finds and follows them to a shack outside of town. Jim says that he brought her nothing but grief and pretended to be dead to get her rid of him. Jim had to see her at least once more.
Carl gets the drop on Bret, and Sam and Starke hear them. Meanwhile, Bret tells Carl that he has to prove Jim is alive. When the two gunmen arrive, Bret kills one and Carl shoots the other and is shot in return as he kills the man. Bret runs into the shack and trains his gun on Jim. Jenny tells Bret that she'll never forgive him, and Bret tells her to check on the injured Carl. She asks Bret to give Jim a few days to get out of the country and she'll go with Bret, but Bret refuses.
Jim asks Bret to think of Jenny and give him a break, insisting that he never killed a man. He goes for his gun and Bret shoots him. Jenny hears the shot and goes back in, and Bret tells her that Jim tried to use a gun. She picks up Jim's gun and aims it at Bret, but can't pull the trigger when Bret leaves.
Later, Jenny is leaving town and Bret approaches her. He says that he got a telegram that Mike is released, and insists that Jim tried to shoot him. Jenny tells him that Bret tried to use her to get to Jim and she can't forgive Bret. She asks if Bret would change his name so that her son wouldn't know that Bret killed his father, and figures that they'd never be able to forget Jim and she has to... and Bret as well. Jenny gets in her stagecoach, and Bret tells Carl to stay with her. Carl says that he always has and gets in the stagecoach with her, and Bret watches them go.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 8, 2019