Len Merrick believed his duty as a federal marshal was to bring prisoners in to face a fair trial, even if it cost him his own life. Merrick was impartial in the execution of that duty and courageous when facing down injustice. But he was also starting to feel his age, and he hoped a tall, dark-haired cowboy was willing to take his place.
Len Merrick was trying to keep order in a territory where men were willing to take the law into their own hands. Just such a case was about to play out as he rode up on a lynch mob preparing to hang a crusty old homesteader, named Pop Keith, whom they accused of rustling and murder. Merrick demanded that Pop be handed over to the law. When threatened, Merrick stood his ground, unflinchingly telling his friend Cheyenne Bodie and his deputy Lou Gray that if he was killed their duty was the same: to bring the prisoner in to face a fair trial in Santa Loma.
Pop was handed over by cooler-headed men and Merrick led the group back to Pop's homestead where he was nearly bushwhacked by the old coot's daughter, Mary. Merrick helped Pop fill out his Last Will and Testament while Bodie kept an eye on the feisty Mary.Later, Merrick made a dangerous decision to ride through the desert to avoid the mob and get Pop to Santa Loma alive. During a break on the trail, Merrick tried to convince Bodie that he was the perfect candidate to succeed him as marshal, but Bodie turned him down. Later, the group was nearly overtaken by the mob and Merrick and his men took cover in some rocks. When one of the mob tried to get behind them, Bodie rushed off after him. While he was gone, Merrick was shot and mortally wounded.
After Bodie returned with a prisoner and saw his mentor badly hurt, Merrick spoke to him alone. He deputized Cheyenne and made him swear to get Pop to Santa Loma alive to face trial. Bodie agreed and then Merrick died. Bodie spent a long time at his grave side and in eulogy told Mary, "I've drifted all over the West, met a lot of men, but nobody like him. I only knew him maybe six months. It was like knowing him all my life. I never met a better man."