Violet Hailey, unwed mother of six year old Priscilla, longs to begin life anew after selling her family farm to the Railroad Commission. To that end, under the guise of being a widow, she travels to Independence, Missouri to join up with a wagon train bound for New Mexico Territory, via the Santa Fe Trail. However, a few days into her journey, she realizes she has been duped in the purchase of her wagon when it breaks down and cannot be repaired. Major Mendez, the wagon master, insists that unusual circumstances call for unusual choices, and forces her into a decision--either forego the dictates of society by sharing the wagon of an unmarried man or depart the train in the next town. The sad state of her finances, and her determination to reach Santa Fe, compel her to continue onward with a man she considers uncouth and rude.
Theodore Johansson, TJ for short, isn't averse to helping the widow and her daughter; it's just that her distaste for their situation exacerbates his own frustration when she proves to be doggedly stubborn.