By Owen Wister
The story is set in the Wyoming territory during the late 1870s and 1880s. Courageous but mysterious cowboy known only as the 'Virginian' works as a foreman of a Wyoming cattle ranch. He meets a pretty schoolteacher Molly Wood from Vermont. She introduces him the works of Sir Walter Scott, Shakespeare and Keats. The Virginian is forced to preside over the hanging of his best friend Steve, who has been accused and convicted of cattle rustling. Molly is horrified and Judge Henry, the Virginians employwer, explains her the code of the West. However, their marriage is threatened by Trampas, who also works on the farm. He vows to gun down the Virginian, whose honor in now at stake. The climatic gun duel between the two men is the first "showdown" in fiction. Trampas fires first but misses and the Virginian kills Trampas. In the end Virginian marries Molly and rides with her in the mountains. - Television series from 1962 to 1969 had little to do with the original story. Trampas (Doug McClure) was an impulsive pal rather than a villain. - The film adaptation from 1929 included the first famous exchange of Talkies: Huston (the villain): 'You long-legged-sonova -'. Cooper: 'If you wanna call me that, smile.' Huston: 'With a gun in my belly, I always smile.'