Robert Hightower, Pedro 'Pete' Fuerte, and William Kearney rob a bank in Arizona and flee from the posse of Sheriff Buck Sweet. They eventually lose their horses and end up walking in the desert. They come across a woman left in a stuck covered wagon and about to give birth. With the help of the trio, she has a boy, naming him Robert William Pedro. Before dying, she extracts a promise from the baby's three godfathers that they will take care of him.
With William wounded from the robbery, they leave with the baby for the town of New Jerusalem. Eventually, William dies. Then, Pete falls and breaks his leg. Robert leaves him his pistol, for "protection from coyotes." As he walks away, he hears a single gunshot.
The film concludes on Christmas Eve. Robert nearly loses hope, but in his delirium, the ghosts of his two friends appear and refuse to let him give up. He finally reaches New Jerusalem and enters a cantina where people are singing Christmas carols, and then collapses. Buck arrests Robert, but because of his heroism and refusal to give up custody of the child, the robber is sentenced to the minimum sentence of a year and a day and is given a cordial farewell by the entire town as he leaves to serve his sentence.