Exploring the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS'
The Girl From Hollywood
Copyright © 2002
Custer Pennington - hero
Grace Evans - Custer's sweetheart
Slick Allen - ranch hand/bootlegger
Mrs. Julia Pennington - Custer and Eva's mother
Mrs. Mae Evans - Grace and Guy's mother
Colonel Pennington - Custer and Eva's father
Guy Thackeray Evans - Eva's sweetheart
Eva Pennington - Custer's sister
Wilson Crumb - movie director
Mrs. George Burke/Charity Cooper - Shannon's mother
Gaza de Lure - Shannon's name as an actress
Miss Shannon Burke - heroine
Mexicans - Allen's henchmen
Doctor - unnamed
Dr. Jones - heart specialist
Hannah - Pennington's cook
Hortense - character in Guy's novel
Bruce Bellinghame - character in Guy's novel
Jake - young ranch hand
Percherons - draft horses
Dick and Dave - ranch hands
Dr. Baldwin - local doctor friend of Cousin William
Bartolo - Mexican
Jim - stable owner
Bartolo's son - messenger
Gracial - murdered by Bartolo
Japanese schoolboy - houseboy
two unnamed doctors
El Camino Largo
Rancho del Ganado - Pennington's ranch
1421 Vista del Paso
1580 Panizo Circle, Hollywood
back alley of Hollywood drugstore
Horse Camp Caņon
Ganado - village
Hall of Justice
Senator - Grace's horse
Apache - Custer's horse
Baldy - horse
King Ganado - prize bull
Son of Ganado - prize bull
Emperor of Ganado - prize bull
Lydia E. Pinkham - patent medicine
Southern Pacific - train
Colt 45 automatic
quirt - riding whip
The first publication of this story was in Munsey's Magazine as a six-part serial from June to November 1922. Its working title was "The Penningtons." The publisher was not happy with the title so Burroughs offered the following list of alternate suggestions: "The Dope Fiend," "The Snow Slave," "The Wages of Sin," and "The Girl From Hollywood." The Macaulay Company published the first edition hardback in 1923 and seven subsequent editions in the next two years. It has been published in paperback by Ace Books and Charter Books.
Richard A. Lupoff - Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure: "The story is another attempt at realism, its setting patterned on the Tarzana Ranch near Los Angeles..." (112) "... when dealing with less unlikely events in realistic settings, he was unable to bring his gifts to bear at all effectively." (113) "The Colonel is obviously Edgar Rice Burroughs, but not as he actually was." (113)
John Taliaferro - Tarzan Forever: "Rancho del Ganado is Tarzana to the last detail; the description of roads, trails, topography, and architecture verge on the encyclopedic - and thus have great historical value for anyone trying to picture the original Tarzana before it became suburbia." (179) "The Girl From Hollywood" devolves into broad melodrama, more gruesome than wholesome, more voyeuristic than enlightening." (180)
Custer Pennington leads his horse, Apache, over a difficult jump. Grace's horse, Senator, can't make the jump. Grace asks Custer not to drink so much. (Prohibition is currently in place.) They ride to the junction of El Camino Largo in Sycamore Caņon. They see vultures in the sky and decide to investigate. On the way to Jackknife Caņon, they bump into Slick Allen, a ranch hand, on a horse named Baldy. Slick is uneasy. Custer doesn't trust him. They ride past the son of King Ganado, a prize bull. Custer's father is keeping the bull a secret. Grace spies a calf and dismounts. Custer kisses Grace and asks her to marry him. She says that she will but first she wants to try acting. Custer expresses his feelings that if she does try acting that it will ruin their relationship.
The Emperor, a prize bull, moves towards Custer and Grace. Custer drives him off. They discover a new horse trail that should not be there. They follow it back to the trail known as Camino Corto. Back at the ranch, they greeted by Custer's parents, Colonel and Mrs. Pennington, and Mrs. Evans, Grace's mother. Custer discovers Allen abusing Apache so he fires him. The drunken Allen is belligerent and threatens revenge. As he leaves, he says that the Penningtons should not be so uppity because one of their friends is a bootlegger. Custer beds Apache down. Grace's brother, Guy, invites Custer into the bungalow and offers him a drink of whiskey that once was considered no more harmful than Lydia E. Pinkham's patented medicine. Although he himself has given up drinking, Guy convinces Custer to take a drink and sells him a bottle.
Custer and Guy walk up to the big house and join the Colonel who is admiring the view from his ranch. Custer and the Colonel leave to don their swimming trunks as they plan to join the ladies in the pool. Allen passes Guy with his severance check. He threatens to expose Guy as a bootlegger. Background to Colonel Pennington and his Rancho del Ganado is given.
There is a description of the horseplay in the pool. Eva, the Colonel's daughter, arrives by train and drives her roadster up to the house. Eva greets everyone with bubbly effervescence. She has met someone who has captured her heart. Her confusing Sherlock Holmes as an author of Conan Doyle establishes her as an airhead. The Colonel reads from a newspaper about bonded whiskey being stolen from a government warehouse. The authorities believe it is been stashed in the mountains. Guy suddenly gets nervous, and Custer rubs it in. At the supper table, Eva reveals the mystery man as Wilson Crumb, a movie director. She has invited him to the ranch to scout locations. Custer doesn't approve of this nor does Guy, who thinks they will use I.W.W. riffraff on the job. Later, Mrs. Evans remarks that a widow by the name of Mrs. Burke has moved in just to the west of their land. The evening is spent dancing, happy to be away from big city life.
The bungalow at 1421 Vista del Paso is described. A man enters and buys some pills from actress Gaza de Lure. Gaza is depressed and angry. She returns from the bathroom happy and gay. Gaza's background is given: a Midwestern girl disillusioned by the casting couch. Wilson Crumb gives her a job. Crumb becomes her lover and introduces her to cocaine, telling her it is aspirin. Gaza becomes addicted. She learns that Crumb is married. Crumb uses her habit to talk her into moving into the bungalow. Gaza takes Crumb's stash and prepares to leave. Crumb is confident that her addiction will make her return. Gaza is shocked to learn she is addicted to cocaine. Crumb discovers his stash missing and tries to find Gaza. The next day they work out a compromise in which Gaza will stay with him if he will supply bit parts in movies and cocaine. The drug numbs Gaza's spirit. Crumb becomes a dealer, and he uses Gaza as his pusher. Gaza starts using morphine. Allen becomes the supplier of drugs. Gaza bargains for half of the profits. She buys a house and sends for her mother. Her addiction has a strong hold on her.
Custer attempts to talk Grace out of trying acting. The Colonel's love of his ranch is emphasized. Guy proposes to Eva. She declares that he must be able to earn a living before they are married. They speculate about becoming famous and about Grace becoming a famous actress. Guy confides in her how Custer wants to leave for the city but does not to upset his father so he stays in the country. Guy sees a rider in the hills. He goes to investigate.
Guy catches up to Allen and agrees to a prearranged deal with the stolen whiskey. Allen threatens Guy that he will take the fall for this if he tries to double-cross him. Allen wants Guy to handle the whiskey while he handles the drugs. Custer and Grace observe Guy with Allen. Allen and Guy agree that they will use burros to bring some of the whiskey to the old hay barn every Friday night. Guy leaves. Custer rides up and tells Allen to clear out. Allen goes for his revolver, but Custer is quicker with his forty-five. Allen leaves with "murder in his heart."
The Colonel and his wife enjoy a drink. The Colonel is happy that his son is his ranch partner. Not as sure about Custer's happiness, Julia Pennington brings up Grace's acting ambition. The Colonel is stoic when he realizes that Custer may want to leave the ranch. Custer and Eva enter the scene and banter about Eva and Guy's relationship.
Two weeks later Grace leaves for Hollywood. Custer takes it hard and begins to drink. He goes to his room. He is numb. He drinks. Guy tries to justify to himself that it is all right to defy the eighteenth amendment and the Volstead Act, but he is nervous. He doesn't like dealing with Allen and his unscrupulous cohorts. When the six-month of bootlegging is over, he plans to go straight. The whiskey is to be hidden in a hollowed out area in hay bails in the barn. The next day a truck will haul the contraband away. At midnight, Mexicans deliver the whiskey, pick up the money from the previous week's sale, and leave.
As the weeks pass, Grace's letters to Custer taper off. The new neighbor, Mrs. George Burke, the former Charity Cooper, becomes friendly with the Penningtons. Some background on Mrs. Burke is given. Grace goes to K.K.S. Studio and learns that Wilson Crumb is casting a new picture. Crumb tells her that the audition would be nude. She is hesitant but acquiesces. Crumb hires her and plans for her to be his next conquest. Allen sees Custer riding into Jackknife Caņon. He outlines a plan to his henchmen in case Custer should learn too much about their operation. Mrs. Burke becomes very ill. The Colonel sends for a doctor, who recommends Dr. Jones, a heart specialist, and that relatives should be notified. They learn about her daughter Miss Shannon Burke (Gaza de Lure) residing at 1580 Panizo Circle from an unmailed envelope. The Colonel says he will take care of everything.
Crumb tells Gaza that he is getting a divorce. She doesn't believe him. All she cares about is dope. When Crumb learns that Gaza has been opening his mail, he tries to kick her out. Gaza threatens to kill him. Crumb breaks down and says that he needs her. Gaza tells him that Allen is coming for his money. This makes Crumb nervous. Later, Allen comes to collect his money. Crumb delays him until Monday morning, when the banks open. Allen gives an outline of the whiskey trade. He sees something familiar in Miss de Lure's face. Crumb talks Allen into delivering a bindle of M to a man in the alley back of the Hollywood Drug Store. Allen is surprised to learn that Gaza doesn't live with Crumb at night. Allen and Gaza depart their separate ways. Crumb calls the police and informs them about a drug deal in the alley.
At her house, Gaza receives a telegram informing her about her mother's illness. It asks her to meet Custer Pennington at the train station. She stops her packing and returns to Crumb. She tells him about her mother's illness and that she must be gone for awhile. Reluctantly Crumb gives her enough snow for a week. He tells her that he loves her and tries to find out exactly where she is going. Gaza is disgusted by him and won't say. She would torture him by never letting him have her because of what he has done to her. After she leaves, Crumb climbs into the attic and hides his junk. Allen is arrested. The police have traced the call to Crumb's house. Crumb informs them that a stranger made the phone call, not he. Allen is sentenced to a year in jail.
Colonel Pennington greets Shannon as she disembarks from the Southern Pacific train. The Penningtons inform her of her mother's death. They take her to her mother's house. Shannon's grief is mixed with her morphine cravings. They take her to Ganado. Alone in her room, she loses the battle to her cravings. She takes another shot in the morning. Hannah, the cook, prepares a light breakfast. The Penningtons insist that Shannon stay with them while she is there. Shannon retires for the evening. The Penningtons discuss their impressions of Shannon. They conclude that she is of fine breeding. Shannon shoots-up in her room.
Shannon does not shoot up the day of the funeral. She has to be carried to her room. Later she comes down for dinner. In her mind, Shannon compares the Pennington's lifestyle to hers with Crumb. The Colonel is persistent in trying to get Shannon to live in the country. Shannon is tempted but apprehensive. Back in her room, Shannon fights off her cravings. She breaks down but takes only a half of dose. In the morning, they prepare to go riding. Shannon is to ride Baldy. The ride and the conversations enlighten Shannon. Afterwards she can easily push the thought of junk from her mind.
After breakfast, Shannon succumbs to her craving with a half of a dose. Shannon and Eva go for a walk around the grounds. It refreshes Shannon's spirit a bit. At lunch, Shannon's appetite is healthy. Everyone comments about color returning to Shannon's face. Custer reports that Slick Allen has been incarcerated. The Penningtons' comment about drug addiction makes Shannon very uncomfortable. She starts to pack to leave. Custer wants her to go horseback riding with him. Shannon successfully fights off her cravings. They ride up into Jackknife Caņon. They discuss the pros and cons of country and city living. Upon returning, Shannon is exhausted. The Penningtons think she is wonderful.
Next morning Shannon succumbs to her craving. The Penningtons keep her busy, a scenario repeated for days. She extends her stay. The Colonel presents her with a pair of silver spurs. Shannon talks Custer into a horseback ride. Eva explains how she is Hortense in Guy's novel--rescued by hero Bruce Bellinghame. Shannon and Custer see smoke rising from Jackknife Caņon. Custer notifies his men as they ride to the fire. Men arrive with horses and plows. Custer and Jake, a young ranch hand, plow the steep side of a ravine, the Percherons stumble and Custer leaps to cut them free from the harness. Shannon runs to help him. One horse is freed. The other horse knocks Custer down near the fire. Custer is pulled to safety. Custer regains consciousness and sends Dick and Dave to replace the two burned Percherons. Shannon insists Custer leave to have his burns treated. The Colonel arrives and sends him home. The Colonel sends for Dr. Baldwin. Back at the ranch Custer is in extreme pain. Mrs. Pennington wishes they could do for his pain. Shannon realizes that she loves him and heads for her room to get morphine. Custer passes out from the pain. Relieved that she doesn't have to reveal her addiction, she flushes the morphine.
Custer talks Shannon into staying and working her orchard. They talk about Grace, the fire, and Slick Allen. Shannon makes the connection of Guy selling whiskey for Allen. Custer tells her that she is just like the Penningtons. He tells her the story of a friend of Cousin William who came to visit but was not of a clean mind so he asked her to leave. He asks and receives Shannon's approval of the rejecting of Cousin William's friend. Custer requires another shot of morphine. In her own bed, Shannon easily overcomes her urge to shoot up.
Custer recovers. Shannon moves into her own place. Custer, Eva, and Shannon talk of many things. Shannon learn thats Eva has met Wilson Crumb. She tries to dissuade Eva from trying acting and Custer should visit Grace in L.A.. She hopes that a visit may save her. Jake tells Custer he can't follow the trails out of the canyon. He knows it happens on Friday nights. Saturday, Custer discovers a gate open to Horse Camp Caņon. Custer deduces from the tracks they come down from the valley carrying burdens and leave the ranch unloaded. He concludes they pass the Evans' hay barn. This revelation triggers Shannon's memory of Allen's tale of a hay barn and a man named Evans taking care of the whiskey. Custer loses the trail. He plans to wait for Friday night with Jake. Shannon tries to persuade him into adding Guy to his investigation. She hopes this will tip Guy off to the discovery. Custer won't permit it. He expounds on his father's theory about the human race. Shannon says she will be busy into the evening and can't join him. Custer confesses his reliance on her and that it has helped him to stop drinking. Shannon rides off.
Shannon rides up into the canyon to search for the whiskey runners. She is apprehensive as she approaches the burros and horses of the Mexicans. She warns them not to make a delivery Friday. The Mexicans surround her. She tells them that she knows Allen and reiterates that they should not make a delivery Friday.
Shannon tells the Mexicans that Custer Pennington will be waiting for them Friday night. The Mexicans demand to know her connection with Allen. She finally gives in to their demands. They let her go and tell her that they will not shoot Mr. Pennington. Shannon suspects that their words have a double meaning. Using binoculars, Custer sees Shannon returning from the canyon and taking the long way home. He is troubled and worried by her ride. He starts drinking. He drives his roadster over to pick her up. He hopes that she will explain her ride into the canyon. She does not. He drinks. Shannon is troubled by Custer's relapse into drinking. Grace's letters are too infrequent as are the Pennington's conversations about her. Eva announces that she is to be married to Guy whereas he sold a story for seven hundred dollars. A great deal of teasing comes from the family. Guy states that he has a lot of money saved. Shannon notices that Guy is slightly embarrassed about how he has obtained his money. The Colonel offers to support them. Eva thinks of this as charity. Custer suggests that Guy can pay it back with interest when he becomes established as a writer. This is acceptable to Eva.
Bartolo, a Mexican, goes to the county jail and informs Allen about Custer's plans. Allen outlines a plan to Bartolo and tells him to leave the girl to him. Custer studies Shannon's face on their daily rides. They are drifting apart. On Friday, she can't dissuade Custer from confronting the mystery men. Back home, Custer receives an urgent message from LA. A man's voice tells him that two men will be bringing a load down to Jackknife Caņon, and that he can catch them there at nine o'clock. Custer decides to go alone. He finds six laden burrows tethered to a tree. He waits for the men to appear. Two riders pass him by and start to sneak up on foot. Other riders approach. Custer realizes that he is in a trap. A US Marshall and his men surround him. They demand and receive his surrender. The Marshall tells him that they got a tip from his partner who he double-crossed. Custer is bewildered. He is to be arrested for bootlegging and taken to LA. The Marshall will search his house in the morning. Custer wonders what Shannon has to do with this.
Back at the village of Ganado, Jim, the owner of a stable, is in disbelief about Custer's arrest. The Marshall warns Jim not to tell the Colonel. As soon as they leave, Jim calls the Colonel and informs him about Custer's arrest. The Colonel heads for LA. In the morning, the police find whiskey bottles in Custer's closet. Shannon goes to the stable to discover that Apache is gone. She starts to ride Baldy into the hills. Mrs. Pennington and Eva tell her about Custer's arrest. Immediately she suspects Allen's hand in this. She goes to Guy and explains what has happened. She hopes that Guy will do the right thing. She will tell all only as a last resort. Guy heads for LA. The Colonel overtakes the Marshall's car but can't dissuade him from his intention of locking Custer in jail.
In jail, Custer speculates how the criminals picked him, and he wonders how they knew about his plan. He doesn't believe that it could have been Shannon. He doesn't mention to his attorney that Shannon knew of his plan. The attorney and the Colonel go to see about bail. Guy arrives and confesses everything to Custer. Custer tells him to go home. He will take the rap. Guy protests. Custer says that he is doing it for Eva because if Guy were convicted it would kill Eva. Guy reluctantly agrees. Dejectedly he heads for home. The preliminary hearing binds the case over to the grand jury and sets bail. Custer talks the Colonel out of hiring a private detective to look into the matter. Custer won't tell his father where he got the whiskey found in his closet. Back home during dinner, Custer makes light of the charge. Eva threatens suicide if he is found guilty. He calms her down and tells her that she must not consider suicide on anyone's account. They ask about Grace. Custer didn't get to see her while he was in LA. They tell Custer about Shannon's concern for him. She asked them if they were sure that it was Custer who was bound over to the grand jury.
Shannon fights off the craving for a fix. Custer scrutinizes a tired Shannon. He asks her to ride with him. She agrees but first she must write some letters. Custer learns that Shannon is starting to raise some pigs. Eva rides up and says she would kill the man who would not come forward to save Custer from going to jail. Custer says that there could be reasons why they won't come forward, but he is not worried because he is innocent. Shannon plans to testify and then leave in shame. She goes home to write the letters. A Mexican boy (Bartolo's son) rides up and tells her that Bartolo wants to talk to her about Custer's predicament. He waits for her in the hills. She calls Custer and delays their ride until noon. She worries that he might see her going up into the canyon.
Custer takes a ride through Jackknife Caņon and wonders if Shannon will tell him about her earlier ride into the mountains. He loves her but does not realize it. He sees Shannon riding into the hills and gets angry. He suspects that she is a part of the gang that stole the whiskey. With his fury raging, he rides away. Bartolo wants Shannon to bring him the money from the last whiskey shipment. She refuses and demands that he clear Custer of the charge. They threaten each other with exposure. When Shannon mentions Bartolo's murder of Gracial, he pulls her off of Baldy, who runs off. He decides to kill her. He has an answer for all of her reasons not to kill her. Before killing her, he plans to rape her.
Custer changes his mind and decides to confront Shannon immediately. He rides towards the mountains. Apache leaps over a rattlesnake on the way. They almost tumble into a canyon. Custer spies a frightened Baldy. Shannon struggles with Bartolo, who is on top of her. Custer and Apache are almost on them before the Mexican realizes it. Bartolo grabs his rifle. Shannon strikes the weapon downwards as he fires. They fight over the rifle. Bartolo knocks her out, leaps to his pony, and rides off. Custer cradles Shannon in his arms and realizes that he loves her. When she comes to, all she can say is that he was going to kill her. On the way home, Shannon makes an attempt to tell him why she was there. Custer will not hear any of it. He compares her to the friend of Cousin William. He believes the worst but will not listen to anything bad about her. Shannon explains how she went into the hills the first time to save him, and this time to force them to clear him. Custer tells her how he would not let Guy confess for Eva's sake. He talks her out of going to the grand jury because this also would bring out Guy's involvement, thus Eva's destruction. Custer's only defense is that he is innocent.
The district attorney wants to drop the charges against Custer. The prohibition agents, backed by a woman's group, pursue the charges. Custer is convicted of possession. Shannon's guilt makes her start to pull away from the Penningtons. Eva takes Custer's incarceration hard. Allen, who is in the same jail, needles Custer. Custer mentions Bartolo and Gracial. Allen wonders why Custer did not use that information at his trial. Allen plans to get rid of Bartolo and get even with Crumb. Crumb plans to use Gracial's murder against Bartolo. It is months before Crumb realizes that Gaza is not coming back. He moves into a hotel. Crumb targets Grave Evans as his next conquest. He slowly seduces her into trying cocaine. While reading the newspaper, Crumb asks Grace if she knows Custer Pennington, the convicted bootlegger. She says that she does but believes him to be innocent. Suddenly it dons on Crumb that Grace's brother is Allen's bootlegger. He uses the threat of Guy going to prison to force Grace into dealing drugs for him at his Circle Terrace bungalow. Grace's appearance deteriorates. Grace begs Crumb not to leave her. He knocks her down. Her head strikes the table as she falls. Allen is released from jail.
Custer arrives at Circle Terrace and sees Grace slip into another room. A Japanese schoolboy answers the door and says no one is home. Custer forces his way into the house and the room. Grace screams at him to leave and that she never wants to see him again. She only wants to save him from humiliation. Custer reunites with his family at home. He learns that Shannon's is pulling away from the Penningtons. Eva excitedly tells Custer about the western movie to be shot on Rancho del Ganado by K.K.S. and directed by Wilson Crumb. The Evans join them. Guy is noticeably changed to a man with a burden. Custer tells them that Grace is not well and that they should bring her home. Guy will go get her tomorrow.
Her being compared to the friend of Cousin William distances Shannon further from the Penningtons. She rides Senator at night to avoid them and to fight her cravings. Guy heads for LA. Custer rides down to visit Shannon. His prison term has made him resolve to live in the country. He asks Shannon to forget the last six and half months and start fresh. He suppresses his desire to declare his love to her, fearing it will be rejected.
Guy hurries to Circle Terrace. He finds a doctor at Grace's bedside. The doctor informs him that Grace needs an operation immediately and that she is pregnant. The doctor exits to retrieve his instruments. Grace awakens and lets Guy know who threw her against the table by indicating a man in a picture. Guy boils water for the doctor. Another doctor comes to help them. The first doctor informs Guy that Grace has died and that she was a drug addict. Guy swears revenge on the man in the picture.
Guy tells family and friends that Grace died of pneumonia. For months, Guy searches for the identity of the man who wronged his sister. Custer avoids Shannon out of loyalty to Grace's memory. He starts drinking again. At an evening party, Eva announces her and Guy's wedding date and their plans to build a house on Hill Thirteen. During a dance, the Colonel tells Shannon that she is like a daughter to them. Custer and Shannon take a moon light stroll. Custer kisses Shannon and declares his love for her. She fears that she will have to tell him the truth about Crumb and herself. Her love for him pushes that aside. They kiss again. Shannon admits that she loves him. Eva calls for them. When they appear, slightly mussed, Eva suspects they have been spooning. Eva excitedly tells them that K.K.S. and Crumb will be coming Monday. Shannon gets dizzy. Custer drives her home.
The news of Crumb's eminent arrival has shaken Shannon. She struggles with what to do. She destroys the reminder of her stash and the paraphernalia. Eva is enthusiastic as the movie people arrive. Shannon avoids the area because she is afraid that someone will recognize her. Eva and Custer meet Crumb. Crumb is attracted to Eva and wants her to do a screen test. Custer is mistrustful of the director. Eva returns the next morning. Crumb pays extra attention to her. He invites her back for an evening shoot with the admonishment not to tell anyone about it. Shannon goes to meet Eva. Crumb comes to the house to talk to the Colonel about using some of his heifers. They meet. Crumb doesn't believe that she has kicked her habit and wants her back. Shannon threatens to kill him if he does anything to expose her. Custer enters the scene and summarily dismisses Crumb with the admonishment to address all inquiries through the assistant foreman. Custer has heard everything that went on between Shannon and Crumb. Shannon tries to tell him the truth when Eva interrupts her. The ladies go to play golf. Custer drinks. He straps on a Colt forty-five.
Custer drinks some more. Shannon and Eva return from golf to find Custer passed out on his bed. Shannon realizes Custer heard her conservation with Crumb. They darken and close his room. Shannon rides home and cries herself to sleep. Eva sneaks down to the K.K.S. camp, but there is no sign of a night shot taking place. Crumb greets her and talks stardom to her. He makes a pass at her. She slaps him with her quirt and threatens him. Before she can ride off, Crumb tells her not to say anything to anyone or he'll have Guy thrown in prison. He explains Guy's involvement in the bootlegging and how he let Custer take the rap for him. A stable hand informs the Colonel that Eva's horse is missing. Before he can finish dressing, Eva returns home. She tells her father what Crumb said about Guy. The Colonel doesn't believe it. They decide to figure it out in the morning. The Colonel rides to the K.K.S. camp. He learns that Crumb has left and that someone else was looking for him as well. He informs the studio hand that they are no longer welcome and to clear out by ten tomorrow morning.
Next morning a studio hand watches Shannon drag a leafy bough behind her. She rides to Ganado and informs the Colonel that Crumb is dead. She found his body under a tree. Everyone is glad. They fear Custer has killed him. The Colonel phones the sheriff. Mrs. Pennington tells Shannon about Eva's run in with Crumb. The Colonel awakens Custer who slept with his revolver on his hip. Custer reveals he has been asleep since yesterday afternoon. They prepare to ride. Custer's faith in Shannon is renewed. The Colonel tells him about Crumb's murder. Custer suspects Shannon. Apache has lost a shoe. Custer returns to the stable and mounts Baldy. A deputy sheriff investigates the crime scene. Mrs. Pennington calls everyone to Eva's bedroom. Eva is holding a revolver. There is blood on her sheets. She is not dead. The Colonel commands Custer to call Dr. Baldwin and Carruthers from L.A.. The Colonel tells Custer what Eva learned about Guy from Crumb. Dr. Baldwin gives little hope. Guy learns the truth why Eva attempted suicide. Guy collapses and is taken to a sanitarium. Dr. Carruthers operates but offers little hope. Allen is among the onlookers at the murder site. A horse shoe is found under Crumb's body. Allen tells them it is from a Pennington horse. A studio hand reports a girl swept the area clear of hoof prints.
That evening, a deputy sheriff arrests Custer and Shannon for the murder of Crumb. There is to be a preliminary hearing on Friday. Guy is totally insane. Dr. Baldwin now believes that Eva will live. At the trial, the circumstantial evidence mounts against them. The most damaging evidence is Allen's account of Shannon's sordid life with Crumb. It provides a motive for the crime because evidence against Shannon is weak. Shannon takes the stand and tells her side of the story. She shocks everyone when she confesses to murdering Crumb. During cross-examination, Shannon's place of birth comes out. Allen is racked with grief. The Japanese houseboy testifies that Crumb and Shannon did not live together as man and wife. Allen also testifies to that fact. The district attorney's summation details his version of the murder. He dismisses Shannon's confession as an attempt to save the man she loves. Custer is found guilty. Shannon is acquitted.
Before Custer's sentencing hearing, the Colonel tells Shannon that Custer loves her and that they still want her to be a part of their family. Custer is sentenced to be hanged. Outside of the Hall of Justice, Allen approaches them. He wants to help free Custer. He talks with Shannon alone for fifteen minutes. The day before the execution the Colonel goes to San Quentin to say good-bye to his son. Custer is very stoic.
At Ganado, on the fateful day, the bookkeeper brings them the news of the Governor's stay of execution. Shannon has uncovered evidence that leads to Crumb's real murderer. Shannon drives up with the news that it was Guy who murdered Crumb. She has been working with Guy for months, trying to revive his memory. Finally it happened. Guy killed him because he discovered that it was Crumb who killed his sister, Grace. Allen found the body. He feared that he would be blamed so he planted the horse shoe under the body. Custer will be freed. It is unlikely that a jury will convict a temporarily insane Guy. Shannon tried to cover the tracks because she recognized Apache's tracks. She was trying to protect Custer. Allen had a change of heart because he realized that he is Shannon's father.