The original group that leaves Poker Flat includes Mr. John Oakhurst, a gambler; Uncle Billy, a thief and drunk; the Duchess, a prostitute; and Mother Shipton, a witch. All of these characters are kicked out of the camp because they represent some form of "wickedness" that the recently reformed camp leaders thought would clean up the reputation of their establishment.
As the outcasts travel to the next town, Sandy Bar, the Duchess stops the traveling party at noon and refuses to go further. Mr. Oakhurst recognizes the need for the group to move on as they have nothing but their horses to give them shelter or food, but by now, Uncle Billy is drunk, the Duchess is pouting, and Mother Shipton has fallen asleep. It is at this point that the group is joined by Tom Simson, aka "The Innocent," and his fiancee Piney Woods, who are on their way to Poker Flat to be married. These fresh-faced teenagers are the opposite in every way from the "outcasts," yet they cannot be dissuaded from joining the group.