Dan Collins is headed for Dodge City when he stops for the night at a way station for the stage. He and the station master spend the night drinking and socializing.
In the morning, outlaws descend on the way station intent on robbing the stage. They turn on one another after shooting the station master. The stage arrives just as Dan walks out and everyone assumes Dan killed all four outlaws. He gives up trying to convince them otherwise when the stage passengers keep insisting he's a hero.
Dan's partner arrives while Dan is drinking at the Long Branch and retelling the story. His partner doesn't believe the story and cautions Dan that sooner or later someone will challenge him. Dan says he's enjoying the attention while it lasts and changes the subject.
Some time later Dan meets Lucy Benton in the general store. He asks to see the farm but she refuses and tells him not to come out there. Dan carries a load of seed out to their wagon and Lucy introduces him to her brother Carl. Dan makes a derogatory remark aimed at Carl about his lack of help and then notices Carl's crutches. Lucy tells him that Carl is permanently disabled and Dan apologizes.
As he walks down Front Street Dan is approached by Wes Morgan, a wealthy rancher who wants to hire him as a gunman. He offers $100 a month but Dan wants time to think about it. Dan then rides out to see Lucy. Lucy asks again that he leave and says that she never wants to see him again. Dan assumes that Carl doesn't want her seeing him and confronts him. Carl says that Lucy just wants to be left alone. When Dan asks Carl to put the shotgun down, he learns that Wes Morgan wants Lucy's land. Dan tries to convince Carl to call the marshal in but Carl wants to defend the land himself. Dan leaves.
Dan runs into Lucy again while helping Quint repair a wheel on Doc's buggy and she tells him again she doesn't want him around. Lucy has a conversation with Doc in which she says she says being unable to tell Dan the truth about her brother is the reason she keeps telling Dan to leave her alone.
Later Dan talks things over with his partner and wants to confess that he didn't kill those outlaws. His partner suggests telling the truth about the outlaws and then staying out there to help Lucy fight against those men.
Dan rides out to the Benton ranch so that he can confess to Lucy. He tells her he didn't kill the outlaws and that he's not man enough to stay and face Wes Morgan's men. The Bentons wish him luck and he starts to ride off. He doesn't get far before Morgan and his men come. Dan watches while they disarm Carl and threaten to kill them if they interfere. Morgan gives orders to kill all their livestock and heads to the barn.
Dan makes up his mind and rides in with his Colt blazing. He kills two of the gunmen before being shot off his horse and then shot again in the back by the remaining gunslinger. Dan finishes off the third gunslinger before Matt rides up and covers Morgan. He arrests Morgan but Dan is dying.
Lucy makes the observation that all men lie a little to preserve their pride and Carl calls them over. He feels responsible for Dan's death and explains that Lucy is his wife, not his sister, and that it was easier to pretend that in order to save his pride. Carl says Dan's death taught him real pride.