In Mexico to buy a seed-bull, Lucas and Mark McCain fall prey to bandits. These bandits strip Lucas of his shirt, hat, and boots. Then they tie him to a tree and leave him to die while they ride off with his kidnapped son.
Lucas is asked to stand guard when $50,000 is transferred from a specially designed stagecoach strongbox to the North Fork Bank's vault. Sloan, a former bank clerk plans to rob the shipment with a couple of henchman and uses the general store as a base to launch their attack. Meanwhile, Milly and Mark are held captive in a back room, helpless to prevent the heist.
Mark gets a job from a neighbor who he initialed shied away from because of his facial scars. When his military past is revealed, Mark has to decide if his new friend has been lying or is the man on his trail seeking vengeance justified.
Lucas witnesses a shooting while repairing fencing on his property. When the man who did it is arrested, he is prepared to testify at the trial. Bribery and threats to his family and self are tried but may just backfire on the accused.
Grandpa Fogarty lives in a rundown old farmhouse with his young grandson Woody. The McCains are neighbors and Lucas repeatedly tries to get the old man to send the boy to the local school. He refuses, leading some of the ladies in North Fork to think he's not fit to be raising a child and that Woody should be taken from him. Grandpa is dead set against it until he learns that someone from his past may be gunning for him. As much as it hurts him, he decides to give up the boy without any explanation.
Two mountain men ride by the McCain ranch and one, Ambrose, is enamored with Lucas' rifle. He tries to trade for it but Lucas won't trade. He is set on getting the gun and later that night they return to ranch and try to steal it. In the scuffle Gorwin is accidentally killed. Lucas returns his horse to his people in the high country but Ambrose has lied about what happened to Gorwin and the hill people hold Lucas accountable. A trial is called and Lucas is found guilty of murder and sentenced to five years labor to pay for Mrs. Morgan's loss.
Lucas and Mark take in a young woman and her brother after the brother comes down with measles. But rumors are flying around that the young woman is a princess - not merely a woman who's yearning to be a farmer.
At night Micah stops by the North Fork jail to check on a prisoner named Charlie Gordo. Charlie does not want to go to Yuma prison to be hanged. He threatens Micah by telling him that if he tries to make him go, he will kill Micah.
Lucas is acting deputy in Northfork while Micah is away on business. When the bank is robbed Lucas shoots and seriously wounds the robber during his getaway. The robber is Rudy Gray from Salinas and when Lucas wires the sheriff of Salinas the telegraph is intercepted by an unscrupulous clerk and his friend Dave Foley. Foley decides to travel to Northfork impersonating Rudy's brother and bring his body back to Salinas before Lucas can find out there is a $2,000 reward on his head.
A man rides into Northfork whom everyone seems to recognize. His name is Tip Corey and he has a reputation as a ruthless killer. Micah tells him to ride out of town and Corey refuses and delivers Micah an ultimatum...take his badge off and throw it into the dirt by sundown or he'll kill him. Lucas convinces Micah that Corey won't be back by sundown so Micah leaves on business and Lucas pins on the badge. The threat still holds and Corey delivers his ultimatum to Lucas.
When Mark and Lucas meet Micah on the trail while transporting a prisoner for execution, Mark discovers the prisoner is a man who saved his life three years earlier. Lucas gets angry when Mark helps the condemned prisoner escape.
While riding out on the range, Mark befriends a blind man with a grudge against another man. When the man in question forces Lucas to kill his cattle because of disease, Mark seeks revenge and is shocked at the results.
A retired lawman's irrational jealousy threatens not only to destroy his marriage, but also to make him an easy target for someone who wants him dead. And as usual, Lucas finds himself right in the middle of all this drama.
A man rides into North Fork. When he sees Lucas, he reminds him that they met in training camp during the Civil War. Upon hearing them talking, Milly asks the man whether he knew her brother, who died in the Battle of Bull Run.
A former neighbor of the McCain's is released from jail after serving his sentence for stage coach robbery, but the money was never found. Lucas agrees to let the man work for him, but the new work hand holds a secret.