Before taking his life, alcoholic Bummer Smith wrote a letter to John Gray ( Howard Estabrook ) the town schoolteacher, asking him to use his newly acquired wealth to care for his uneducated and boisterous daughter M'Liss ( Barbara Tennant ). Don Jose ( O.A.C. Lund ) a deceitful man, finds the letter first, and names himself the heir to Bummer's valuable California oil fields, he leaves town to take control of the property. He later sends for M'Liss, who sadly bids farewell to John, her only true friend. In the lush gardens of her California estate, M'Liss becomes a refined young woman but never stops pining for her old schoolteacher. Meanwhile, John comes to California and strikes oil on the property adjacent to Don Jose's ranch. Envious of his success, Jose sets fire to John's oil wells, but after the two men fight, Jose is chased into the fire, where he meets his death. Bummer's note is found, and M'Liss and John are happily reunited.
This was the first of three silent films made about the high-spirited heroine M'Liss, who represented the untamed American West. Adapted from Bret Harte's popular 1873 novel, the 1915 version starring Barbara Tennant stayed the closest to the original story. Sadly, it is now a lost silent film.
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