Tom Fuller—a scrupulously honest fellow, a person ofextraordinary physical strength, and owner of a savage horse, Rusty, that healone was able to tame—is generally regarded as a half-wit. He has beensummarily fired from every job he has ever had and even comes to regard himselfas a failure. He makes one more try when he is hired on as a blacksmith’sassistant by Boston Charlie. Finally here is a job that Tom can perform successfully,and his spirit soars.
Oliver Champion, who stops at the smithy to have his wagonhorses newly shod, is impressed by Tom’s ability. Champion also recognizes Tom asthe son of the late Washington Fuller, a renowned gunfighter. Boston Charlie,far from being impressed by this revelation, is outraged and fires Tom, insistingthat he leave at once. Champion takes this newfound opportunity to propose thatTom, who in addition to his physical strength is also an excellent shot, shouldbecome his bodyguard. Not having any alternative, Tom accepts the offer.
It is obviously a decision made in haste, as Tom soon learnsthat Champion is new to the West, that he is an escaped convict from a prisonin the East, and that he has come all this way in pursuit of a master criminal,Henry Plank, the man actually responsible for the robbery for which Championwas imprisoned. Now Champion wants Tom to lead him through unfamiliar country toget his revenge.