Festus is forced to pack gold dust across the desert, hoping to get to a town on the other end before his and Ben Snow's water supply runs out. Matt and Newly, having been alerted by telegram, try to catch up to them. When Festus spots the tracks of the killer who also wounded him, he simply turns around and goes after the killer. Snow has a Hobson's choice of shooting Festus and trying to make it out alone (which he knows he can't do) or go along and pick up the convict. They find him, strap half the gold to his back, and force him to come along to face a noose at the end of the journey. A series of double-crosses follow, leaving Festus and Snow in the direst of straits.