Two women and two men are run out of the town of Poker Flat due to a
... a change in its moral atmosphere since the preceding night... It was experiencing a spasm of virtuous reaction, quite as lawless and ungovernable as any of the acts that had provoked it.
The two women, Mother Shipton and the Duchess, are both prostitutes, who have dutifully plied their trade until the town's outbreak of moral consciousness. John Oakhurst, a gambler, is also outcast, though his only crime is being a successful card player who has won money from the town's citizens. The fourth man, known as Uncle Billy, is a drunkard and thief. The group is escorted to the town limits and told not to return. Soon after, a blizzard hits the party, who manages to find shelter from the storm. But Uncle Billy steals the group's mules during the night, leaving the others to fend for themselves as the deadly storm approaches. Two others, Tom Simson and his young girlfriend, Piney Woods, had already joined the group, and they manage to survive for the better part of a week, but soon their food runs out: Mother Shipton starves to death after hoarding her food to give to the others, while the Duchess and Piney freeze to death in each other's arms. Meanwhile, Oakhurst,
who was at once the strongest and yet the weakest of the outcasts of Poker Flat,
chooses to die alone from a bullet fired from his Derringer.