Jim Hardie is on a stage from San Francisco to Virginia City, Nevada with the lovely Mary Farnum who says she is on the way to New Orleans to marry an older man, Mr. Casey. They arrive at their destination where Hardie learns from the local agent that the traveling bag he carried is holding a $100,000 solid gold owl from China. Sam Banktort has bought the statue for his wife for their anniversary as a reminder that they met when he killed her pet owl. Hardie and the clerk Benson leave to drop the owl with Banktort but are attacked on the way. Benson is killed with a Chinese dagger while Hardie is knocked out. Hardie and the Sheriff drop the owl off with the owner but a Chinese man, Mr. Soo, arrives to tell how the statue was stolen in China and that he is charged with buying it back. Hearing Hardie's story, he inspects it determining it has been replaced with a gold plated lead copy. Hardie has one day to find it.