Siblings Annie and Luke Hunter along with their friends Henry Little Light and Joseph Peopeo are in attendance at the annual fall barn dance – along with the entire community of the town of Deadman’s – when the traveling preacher who offers church services every month collapses. Doc Johnson finds the man has been poisoned. But who would want to poison a traveling preacher?
Meanwhile, the community of cattle ranchers is disturbed to find out that the preacher had been encouraging a sheep-farmer and his wife to move into their area, bringing sheep to the open grazing land where they keep cattle. Is this young couple connected to the preacher’s poisoning? If not, why do they lie about their connection to events? They’re hiding something but is it related to the reverend?
Henry, wanting to avoid an inquest where he’d have to give testimony that implicates Joseph in the poisoning, decides to visit his mother. On the way he discovers a recent widow, a wagon load of tobacco leaves, and a clue in the preacher’s poisoning. At the same time, the Captain in charge of the investigation begins to suspect that not only might Joseph be involved in the poisoning, he may be a romantic rival for Annie Hunter’s affection.
Danger grows around the friends as the possibility of Joseph being charged with a crime grows. If they can’t find the real reason – and person – responsible for the preacher’s death, then justice may go badly awry, taking Joseph with it.