Alone and unprotected in an isolated wilderness cabin, Ruth Jordan is discovered by three drunken brutes who begin to barter for her. In desperation, she appeals to Stephen Ghent, the least degraded of the desperadoes, promising herself to him if he saves her from the others. Ghent buys off Shorty with a chain of gold nuggets and knocks Dutch senseless. Ghent then sends Dutch off with Shorty and takes Ruth to the next town, where he forces her to marry him. During the 3-day ride across the desert to Ghent's gold mine, the idealistic Ruth learns that he is a man of rough passions.