Yancey Goree, a disreputable man, sits in his law office in the town of Bethel. He is broke and has turned to drinking. He sold his family home to Pike Garvey and his wife, who recently moved to the area.
Garvey visits Goree and offers to buy his feud with the Coltrane family for $200. Goree, desperate for money, accepts the offer.
‘Thar’s the money,’ said Garvey. ‘Thar’s two hundred dollars, Mr. Goree; what you would call a fa’r price for a feud that’s been ’lowed to run down like yourn hev.’
Later, Colonel Abner Coltrane, a member of the Coltrane family, visits Goree and invites him to stay at his house to help him get back on his feet.
Goree agrees and they ride together towards the mountains. Along the way, Goree becomes increasingly anxious about passing his old home and asks Coltrane if he can wear his coat and hat to make a better impression. Coltrane agrees and they continue riding. As they pass the old home, Goree is shot by Garvey, but Coltrane manages to keep him from falling off his horse. They continue riding towards Laurel, where Coltrane's house is located.