Pursued by police across Mexican range land, American Linley Vanner seeks refuge in the adobe hut of Father Gomez. That night, an exhausted Lin, whose arm is injured, finally reveals his story to the priest: A year earlier, Lin is working as a supervisor at an oil field when he hears that the company's payroll has been stolen and several guards who were protecting it, murdered. Lin is coaxed by his fiancée Luana to join the robbery posse, which is being led by company president Earl C. Mahoney. At first Lin refuses to consider the idea, but changes his mind when he develops a strong feeling about where the robber, whom witness Mahoney has described as "American," might have gone. On his own, Lin rides to a mountain pass and there encounters Sam Tevlin. Assuming that Sam is the robber, Lin orders him to surrender, and when Sam raises only one arm and starts yelling at him, Lin opens fire. The wounded Sam protests the shooting, saying that because of an injury, he could only raise one arm to surrender. Lin dismisses Sam's complaint and leads him at gunpoint back to the oil fields. There Lin turns Sam over to the police and is offered a $2,000 reward. When Lin later speaks with Sam, who denies committing the robbery, and watches him die from his gunshot wound, he refuses to accept the money. Disappointed by Lin's seeming lack of ambition, Luana breaks their engagement, and Lin quits his post. Lin then offers to travel with Sam's body to Los Santos, where Sam's widow Ellen is waiting to receive it. Slipping silently away from the train depot, Lin heads for the nearest cantina and runs into his friend, Carlos, who gives him a newspaper clipping featuring Lin's photograph and a story about his "heroic" capture. Later, Lin takes a job at another oil field, but soon quits and returns to Los Santos. Introducing himself as Linley Brown, Lin visits Ellen and her young son Mike at their now rundown ranch. When Ellen assumes that he has come in response to an advertised ranch foreman job, Lin plays into her confusion and convinces her to hire him. Soon after he begins work, however, Ellen sneaks into his room and finds Carlos' newspaper clipping. Over the next several months, Ellen exacts her revenge on the unsuspecting Lin by ordering him to work day and night and slighting him whenever they are alone together. Lin, who has grown close to Mike, finally deduces what has happened and confronts Ellen about her behavior. When Ellen's pent-up fury explodes, Lin accuses her of attacking him not for Sam's wrongful death, but for Sam's selfish neglect of her and Mike. Her anger spent, Ellen admits that her marriage was indeed loveless and gives in to her romantic feelings for Lin. Lin and Ellen then marry, but immediately after the ceremony, they discover Mike crying because the other children have called him the "bandito's" son. Determined to clear Sam's name, the guilt-ridden Lin returns to Mahoney's oil field and questions Juan Valdez, the only guard who survived the robbery. When the nervous Valdez inaccurately retells his robbery story, Lin becomes convinced that he is lying, but is unable to extract any definite information from him, as he immediately hangs himself from a church bell. Undaunted, Lin bribes a clerk at Mahoney's headquarters and inspects the company files. Later, he shows up at Mahoney's hacienda and confronts him with files that reveal that the oilman had used the stolen payroll money to finance another oil field. Lin then accuses Mahoney of committing the robbery himself and of framing Sam, whom he had encountered by accident in the mountains, for the crime. When Mahoney tries to draw a gun from his desk, Lin knocks it out of his hand, and the two men struggle. While defending himself, Lin kills Mahoney with a sharp blow and, out of fear for his life, flees. Lin tries to escape by train, but is spotted by police and injures his arm while climbing a barbed wire fence. The police then descend on Ellen's ranch and learn of Lin's whereabouts at the same time she does. When the police surround the priest's hut, Lin begins firing on them, claiming that, like the man he shot in haste, he cannot raise his arm to surrender. After Ellen risks her own life to be with him, however, Lin realizes that he must let go of his guilt so that he can lift his arm and surrender. Bolstered by Ellen's love, Lin gives himself up with both arms raised and rides off with the police.