Saquarra is a quiet desert town where Samantha Cameron very much does not want to be. In the dead of night she makes a desperate escape on horseback only to lose the horse through an accident, ending up on foot. The next day, nearly overcome from exposure to the heat and imperiled by a rattlesnake, she is "rescued" by a traveling merchant, Zachariah Kane, who carries her in his wagon right back to Saquarra! Kane is a man in flight from his past -- dreadful experiences in the Civil War -- and has been rootless ever since. Upon his arrival in Saquarra he learns the painful injustice he has done by returning Samantha to where she is known as Mississippi Pike's "whore," and learns that this town is literally under siege. But what finally stops him short in his fiddlefoot ways comes after he saves a Mexican child from being trampled under the hoofs of horses ridden by outlaws sequesterd in Saquarra. With the help of a Mexican bandit, Descanso Cordova, known as El Diablo, and the local sheriff, Kane decides to rally the town in a fight for its independence.