Peter Dunstan is a big rancher who wants to become bigger,
to control more land. So when he buys Dr. Henry Morgan’s ranchland that has
been unsuccessfully converted to farming, it is his intention to return it to
open range. The only stipulation the doctor makes is that Dunstan must retain
Sandy Sweyn, who has more or less been Dr. Morgan’s ward. Though the man is of
age, he is generally considered a half-wit, even by the doctor. Still, Sandy
has a fabulous gift: he can communicate with animals. The most refractory and
savage bronco will yield to his subtly persuasive methods even when expert
horse breakers have failed.
After Sandy gentles the totally recalcitrant gelding that Dunstan
has been trying to break to the reins, he claims that his mare, Cleo, though used only
for drudgery, could easily outrun the gelding in a race. Dunstan is so
contemptuous of this boast that he bets $5,000 and ownership of the gelding if
he loses the race. As it turns out, Cleo readily wins.
Rather than indulging his anger, Dunstan decides to use Sandy’s
gifts to his advantage by getting him seemingly impossible tasks. The problem is
that after each of these incredible tasks is accomplished, some personal
misfortune befalls Dunstan. Finally Dunstan drives Sandy into the mountain
wilderness, where his prowess eventually becomes legendary. But banishment is
no solution for Dunstan when he comes to need Sandy more than ever, and his
only way of getting him back is to resort to trickery.
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