On the trail of thief and killer Ben Rodman in the spectacular Utah wilderness, Matt meets Rodman's latest victim, an old prospector who was shot by Rodman over the water hole the old man had staked a claim to. The dying man entrusts his grandson to Matt's care. Quickly thereafter, a wagon drives up with Maggie Blaisdell and Jed Rascoe at the reins, looking for the same water. Maggie is a madam, gimpy Rascoe her handyman, and the four women inside are her prostitutes. Despite Maggie's profession, she and Matt are old friends, complicated by the fact that she was also once Rodman's girlfriend. It's further complicated that one of the "girls" is, unknown to anyone, the mother of the young boy (she ran off and left him with his grandfather years ago). Matt chats with Maggie and learns that she is taking nearly $48,000 in gold dust to the East to invest in a mining consortium where she's a partner. One of the "girls", treacherous Lisa, overhears the conversation and sneaks out, first ...