A Quaker family takes care of a wounded gunslinger. He falls in love with their willing daughter, and she tries to get him to change his violent ways.
Wounded Quirt Evans (John Wayne) falls off his horse and is helped by Thomas Worth (John Halloran) and his daughter Penelope Worth (Gail Russell). After Quirt sends a telegram, Worth takes him to their farm. Dr. Mangram (Tom Powers) gives him laudanum and removes the bullet. Penelope hears Quirt talking deliriously about two women. Dr. Mangram tells Mrs. Worth (Irene Rich) to get rid of Quirt, but they believe in hospitality. Penelope learns that Quirt has no wife and tells him they are Quakers.
Laredo Stevens (Bruce Cabot) has Quirt's saddlebag and asks the telegrapher (Olin Howland) where he is. Quirt gets his pants and kisses Penelope, who says she will go with him. Quirt finds his gun has no bullets, and Laredo comes in with two men. Laredo gives Quirt $5,000 for his land but still owes him $15,000. Quirt gives Thomas money and makes him take it. Penelope persuades Quirt to stay. She and Mrs. Worth tell Quirt that Frederick Carson (Paul Hurst) stopped their water from the dam the Quakers built that is on his land. They prayed for Carson. Quirt goes to Carson and tells him to open the dam 16 inches. Quirt persuades Carson to be neighborly, and Mrs. Worth heals his boil and gives him baked goods.
On Sunday the marshal McClintock (Harry Carey) asks Penelope where Quirt has been. She asks Quirt to stay away from Laredo. Randy McCall (Lee Dixon) sees Quirt going to meeting with the Worths. At the meeting Nelson (Marshall Reed) gives Penelope maple sugar. Randy asks Quirt to join him against Laredo's rustling play, but he says no. Friends give Quirt a Bible for helping Carson. Quirt tells Nelson to marry Penelope quickly, and he leaves with Randy.
Laredo and his men attack cowboys and stampede their herd. Quirt and Randy use clubs on Laredo's men. In a saloon Lila Neal (Joan Barton) tells Quirt that he has changed. Quirt gambles as Lila sings. Quirt starts a fight, and he and Randy are thrown out. Lila laughs at Quirt for having a Bible, and he leaves.
Quirt goes back to the Worths. Penelope tells him she won't tie him down, and he kisses her. McClintock asks Quirt about another crime, and he says he was with Randy and Lila. McClintock sees Quirt with a plow. Quirt asks Penelope about getting married. They pick blackberries. Laredo shoots at Quirt and chases them. Quirt and Penelope fall into a river, and he rescues her. Dr. Mangram tells Quirt that Penelope is against him killing a man. Quirt leaves, and suddenly Penelope is up and well. Quirt calls Laredo out into the street. Penelope arrives, and Quirt gives her his gun. Laredo tells Quirt to turn around, and Laredo and another man are shot dead by McClintock, who says they were wanted for a crime. Quirt says he is now a farmer and goes with the Worths.
The callous violence of a traditional western is challenged
by a pacifist philosophy that believes only doing wrong is bad.
From the spiritual perspective each person can only hurt oneself
as everyone is truly autonomous.