Curly Smith was a coward when he fled the Civil War. After his encounter with Mitt Stone on the distant Rio Grande there is not a yellow bone in his body. He returns to become a deputy sheriff. His arrest of murderer Angel Ranigan makes him a hero but touches off a wave of violence like no other. Old South sympathizers try to take Texas back in time. Curly, son of a plantation owner,is caught in the middle.
A chance meeting with his old friend Mitt Stone gives him the resolve needed to take charge.
Curly's love for Gail Jean challenges his courage. Jefferson's post-war prosperity offers gain far beyond law enforcement. There will be no love or prosperity unless Curly can win his unwanted war against the past.