Offered a job by powerful rancher George Temple, Bonner turns the man down when he learns that he is trying to force Will Fetter to sell his small homestead. Temple and his hands regard Fetter as a coward who won't fight back, but Bonner, who knew Fetter before under another name, knows there is another reason why he refuses to fight back.
A Quaker family encounters prejudice, hostility, and harassment from the residents of the closest town, who mistake their pacifism for cowardice. They also encounter it from the rancher Bonner has come to do business with, though the man's wife feels differently.
Bonner must travel through renegade Apache territory to escort a ruthless killer to another town for his hanging. Before he leaves, however, he realizes that he will face yet another danger---the man's girlfriend, who is determined to free him.
Bonner rides into Quiet City, a town that was once wild but is now peaceful. The sheriff of more than thirty years, an old friend of Bonner's, feels as if he's no longer needed and misses the wild old days when he had more to do. When the first killing in two years occurs the sheriff brings the killer in, but then imagines a lynch mob forming in the streets though no such mob exists.
Bonner has been sent to check on conditions in Hornitas, a gold mining camp which supposedly has none of the violence common to such towns. He finds that it is not so different after all, and that the sheriff is crooked and demands protection money from his citizens. Complicating matters, Bonner's only ally in town is a devout pacifist who insists that he check his gun with her and not use it as long as he's in town.
Stopping in a small town, Bonner learns that someone there using his name gunned down a harmless drunk for money. To clear his reputation, he must try to find out who the killer really was and who was really behind it.
Bonner is suspicious of the motives of the daughter of a dying old friend when she comes to visit him, especially since she is in the company of a known outlaw. On top of this, after talking to her, the father, who hasn't seen his daughter since she was a child, insists she is not her.
Bonner agrees to teach young Henry Wilson how to be faster with a gun so that he can defend himself against the man he says is gunning for him. But is Wilson telling the real truth about what he intends to do with his newly acquired skill?
Emma Birch has organized the women of the town into a determined suffragette group; the men rebel and attempt to put the women in their place. Bonner becomes the reluctant mediator between the two groups.
A woman is shunned by everyone in her home town, including her own father, because she married a man who later turned outlaw and killed the town's leading citizen. Bonner tries to prevent the shunning from escalating into violence.
The citizens of a town persuade (well, not exactly just persuade) Bonner into the job of collecting money for a new church organ. Sounds too simple and safe compared to what Bonner's done before? Anything but, as he soon learns.
Bonner is wounded during a bank holdup and all his money (and only his money) is taken by the robbers. His Aunt Emma comes to take care of him during his recovery, but she refuses to let him go after the robbers, who plan to hit the bank again as they learn most of the money is still in the bank.
A band of former Confederates led by Colonel Bromley have taken over a Kansas town. But an idealistic foreign soldier who fought for the Union arrives and is immediately humiliated by Bromley's men, whereupon he challenges Bromley to a duel. Bonner hopes to prevent the duel.
The two partners in Tower Rock's bank have split and formed two rival banks across the street, both men blaming the feud on each others' wives and their rivalry over the annual strawberry jam contest. The two bankers have in turn caused the entire town to form rival sides, and officials want Bonner to mediate the feud.
Bonner and a gun salesman come across the body of a man on the trail. The main clue they find is a torn half of a Confederate flag. After bringing the dead man to town, Bonner notices the mayor's reaction upon seeing the flag. The mayor opens up to Bonner and tells him that he was part of a group that planned to resurrect the Confederacy---and that others in the group are looking for him and the gold he has hidden.
Near Clay City, Bonner stops two bullies who are trying to force an old prospector to reveal the location of the gold he believes he has found. The old man has a history of claiming to have found gold that turned out not to be, and Bonner knows that the gold once abundant around Clay City is believed to now be all gone. But the assayer thinks this time the claim might be for real.
On the very day that Sheriff Jeb Barnes retires after 40 years as sheriff and is awarded a gold star by his citizens, the town bank is robbed. As Bonner goes looking for the robbers, he wonders if it was just a coincidence.
Two friends of Bonner's, a rancher and his wife, have now become Shakespearean actors on tour. When they learn that P.T. Barnum is in town, they decide to change their plans of moving on so that the famed showman can see them perform. Bonner tries to help out.
Bonner is in the saloon in a lawless town when he sees a young drifter forced into killing one of three brothers in self defense after they had been goading him. The other brothers lead a posse to find the young man, and Bonner knows they have no plans to bring him in alive. But the closest thing to a lawman the town had is so discouraged after the killing of his own son that he has lost interest in even trying to keep the peace or law.
Vint and a sheriff locate two Mexicans they have been pursuing for horse stealing. One escapes, but Vint is shocked to witness the sheriff shoot down the other one while he has his hands up. Vint decides to continue the pursuit of the other thief, if only to make sure he is brought in alive. When he locates the man, along with his beautiful sister, he learns the sheriff has been lying to him about many things.
A cocky and cynical young man who just came into town looking for a saloon woman is the main suspect when a robbery takes place, but is released as there are no witnesses to identify him. The teenage daughter of Vint's rancher friend is smitten with the young man, much to her father's chagrin. Vint tries to see if he can change the hotheaded youth or else discourage the girl from him.
Just after Vint manages to avert war between the Indians and a white town, a new situation arises: he finds the chief's daughter sleeping in his room, wishing to become his wife. The chief says that according to custom Vint must marry her by the evening or war will be declared on the town again.
While riding in an area where road agents have recently held up a stage and killed three men, Vint is himself held up by a rather inept would-be road agent, who happens to be a young woman, and who manages to save his life.
Vint comes to the town of Dobie with evidence clearing a resident of murder, only to find that the man has already been convicted and hanged. Though the town's residents want him to leave because he reminds them of their mistake, Vint is determined to stay until he finds the real killer.
Vint learns that a gambling house worker he knows is the daughter of a Quaker couple who believe she is dead. The girl is in an abusive relationship with the owner of the gambling house, who will not let her leave him.
Vint brings an orphaned Southern boy to live with his Northern uncle's family. But the boy still has resentments toward the North, and is angry that his uncle fought on a different side from his father, who was killed in the war.
After being forced to kill a young hood in self defense, Vint rides to the man's sister's ranch, only to find she has already put out a bounty on him for shooting her brother in the back. Since she does not know who he is, Vint works for her under a different name, until he can convince her the killing did not happen in the way she was told.
A priest asks Vint to accompany him, along with two nuns, to check on the status of a mission in the midst of hostile Indian territory. Vint agrees, even though he knows that whites are forbidden in the area and are not known to have ever returned alive.
Vint's friend Olaf Burland plans to take his newly earned money back to his farm in native Minnesota, but Vint fears that the gullible Olaf will be easy prey for some who want to separate him from the money and will use any trick to do it. A crooked trail hand and a saloon owner plan to do just that, with the help of a saloon hostess who actually has desires similar to Olaf's.