The Virginian and Trampas arrive at the Medicine Bow saloon just as young Johnny Younce stumbles out. Johnny looks in the window of a tailor shop owned by Jake which contains a sign 'the clothes make a man." Johnny proceeds to break the window and goes on a rampage even trying to burn down the town with a thrown lantern. He is subdued by the Virginian but hits his head on a wagon and gets a concussion. At the jail Doctor Stanton says Johnny can not be left alone so the Virginian volunteers to take Johnny to Shiloh to recuperate until his trial. The Virginian learns that Johnny had been working at the saloon but had been fired for unclear reasons. He also learns Johnny had come to town the year before looking for his Aunt Emily but found she was Lily Duvall who ran the local bordello and never visited her again. He also will not tell the Virginian or Emmett Ryker why he went on his rampage.
At Shiloh it is clear Jennifer Sommers knows Johnny through a mutual friend with whom she shares secrets and we learn that Johnny has been seeing Susan McDevitt over the strenuous objections of her father, wealthy Eben McDevitt. In town, Emmett reveals he thinks Johnny may be one of three youths who robbed a bank the year before. At Shiloh, Johnny works with and befriends Trampas, and with Jennifer's help, continues to see Susan. However, McDevitt threatens Johnny and the Virginian suspects it was McDevitt who had Johnny fired to get him to leave town. In town, Johnny apologizes to Jake the Tailor and befriends him – Johnny has felt discrimination because he is poor and Jake has been discriminated against because he is Jewish. Johnny learns Jake is a Rabbi and Jake makes him a free suit so he can attend the dance and box social.
Eben McDevitt tries to get Johnny to leave town by paying his fines and also tells Emmett Ryker he thinks Johnny is a bank robber. At the dance, Johnny dances with Susan much to her father's chagrin and he also tries to bid on the box lunch she has made. However, even with money from the Virginian he is outbid by Eben who is backing a clerk from his store in the bidding and Susan runs off. Eben will not give in even when encouraged to do so by the Virginian and his own mother. Johnny ends up visiting Eben and tells him he is leaving town but he also pulls a gun and forces Eben to open the safe. He takes only $200.00 for which he provides a signed note saying he is only borrowing it at 6% interest for three years and also provides papers indicating he has an alibi for the time of the robbery. Johnny goes to get Susan at a barn but Eben manages to wound him in the leg as he leaves.
Eben offers $1000 for Johnny's capture, dead or alive, over Emmett's objections he is taking the law into his own hands. The wounded Johnny meets Susan so they can elope but collapses from his wound. Jennifer reveals to Emmett where the couple was going but at the barn they only find blood stains. Johnny and Susan have gone to Jake's store and he wants to get a doctor but instead she begs him to marry her to Johnny. Meanwhile, Eben learns from his mother that Susan is pregnant. Eventually, The Virginian deduces the couple are at Jake's place and with Emmett, Eben and Jennifer, they arrive just in time to find the couple being married. Jake says it is not a legal marriage but in the eyes of God the couple are married. Eben apologizes to both Susan and Johnny for his actions.