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A rancher's iron grip on his land, the local town and his daughter leads to injustices of all kinds.

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Plot

Known as a hard man to work for, Hub Lassiter has hired Cheyenne Bodie as foreman of the 100,000-acre Moon Mesa Ranch. Hub lays down the law during the first five minutes after Bodie arrives: work hard, obey orders and stay away from his disabled daughter, Ellen.

Moon Mesa has a rustler problem and Hub orders Bodie to ride night fence to catch the crooks. Cheyenne catches the old foreman, Clay Mason, creeping onto the property. Mason claims he's only trespassing so he can see Ellen, but Hub has him jailed for rustling and murder. When Cheyenne sees Ellen next, he says Clay wants to see her but Hub is keeping them apart. She asks Cheyenne to visit Clay and ask him if he really loves her. Cheyenne agrees, but he was going to visit the man in jail anyway to make sure he gets a fair shake.

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Clay Mason wants to marry Ellen against her father's wishes.

During his visit to the jail, Bodie listens as Mason tells him about the iron grip Lassiter has over his ranch and the town. He does not expect a fair trial in the local jurisdiction. But he's most concerned about Ellen. At age 14, Ellen was injured in an accident and unable to walk ever since. Mason is sure that Lassiter wants his daughter to think she's helpless and that no one could love her in her crippled state. Mason has written Ellen letters professing his affection, but he thinks Hub has intercepted them. Cheyenne offers to test that theory. He drops Mason's latest letter in Hub's mailbox, then watches in hiding as the old man reads the letter, tears it up and throws it away.

After Ellen hears Cheyenne's report about Clay and the letters she wants to go to him immediately. Cheyenne isn't ready to defy Hub so openly yet, but Ellen forces his hand. As they're preparing to go into town in the buckboard, Hub rides up. He fires Bodie on the spot and his stepson Wes threatens to shoot him. Ellen is furious with her father once she realizes that he's kept her caged from the love of her life. She's powerless to do anything about it.

In town, Cheyenne has lobbied a judge to get Clay's trial moved to a new venue, but Hub is stirring up the men into a lynch mob. Fearing for Clay's life, Bodie breaks him out of jail. The pair follow a remote trail to the next town when they are ambushed by a pair of brothers. They're the rustlers who have been swiping cattle from all the local ranches. Their boss has been directing everything, and that boss is...Wes Lassiter.

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Rustlers ambush Cheyenne and Mason.

At Moon Mesa, Ellen has found a bill of sale for cattle that her father claims were stolen by Clay Mason. Shocked, she confronts Wes with the evidence and a gun. Her smug stepbrother has little fear of Ellen's threats to expose him. And yes, her father is in on it, too. When she tries to leave under her own power, Ellen falls, knocks a lamp onto the floor and starts it ablaze. With a cruel laugh at her helplessness, Wes leaves her there to die.

Meanwhile on the trail, Cheyenne and Clay think fast and overcome the dim-witted rustlers. On their ride back to Moon Mesa they see the ranch house burning to the ground. Cheyenne and Clay search the inferno and carry Ellen out.

Hub and the posse arrive to find the house burnt to the ground and Wes long gone. Hub is about to get two surprises: Mason accuses Wes of orchestrating the rustling, and Ellen says she's leaving for good with the man who truly loves her. When Hub tries to intervene Cheyenne gets in his way, condemning him as an emotional, manipulating cripple of a man.

Clay and Ellen ride off to a new life together while Hub is left with a burnt wreck of his own making.

Quotes

"I've seen you before. Different faces maybe, different towns. Men after vengeance instead of justice."

- Cheyenne is concerned about Hub's influence over the local populace.


"She's a cripple!"
"You're the cripple!"
"I'm what?"
"Inside you're sick and twisted. A man would have to be to do the things you've done."

- Hub and Cheyenne argue over his actions.