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The business people of the town of Miller Flats are being bled dry by a gang of extortionists calling themselves a protective association. When Parson Hammond exhorts the citizenry to take action and threatens to expose the leader of the gang, he is murdered by an unseen gun man. Soon after, Tim Hays rides into town and meets Jerry and Betty Garrett who have taken over the editorship of the town paper after their father was murdered by the protective association. Tim opens a blacksmith shop and is soon visited by members of the association who demand that he pay for protection. Tim refuses, and urges the rest of the townsfolk to resist. While conducting his own investigation, Tim visits banker James Bradley to ask if there are any unusually large deposits in the bank. The banker is unable to help him, but while there, Tim notices that Bradley has a fondness for doodling. Later, when Tim recognizes Slim Doyle as one of the men who threatened him, he confides in Sheriff Kramer that he is a U.S. Marshall and his real name is Tim Hammond, son of Parson Hammond. With the sheriff's help, Tim devises a scheme to arrest Slim on a trumped up murder charge. As Slim is locked is a cell, Tim incites a mob to demand his lynching, thus prompting a terrified Slim to offer to confess. But before Slim can testify, the gang kidnaps Jerry and demands Slim's release. After agreeing to the exchange, the sheriff and Tim once again trick Slim by allowing him to escape. With the help of the townspeople, Tim trails Slim to the hideout and after Jerry escapes, Tim and the posse capture the gang. Inside the cabin, Tim finds drawings which match those he saw on Bradley's desk. Realizing that Bradley must be the leader of the gang, Tim rides into town to arrest the banker, and in a blazing shootout with the marshall, Bradley meets his death, thus bringing an end to the reign of corruption in Miller Flats.