The travelling tobacco pedlar, Dominicus Pike, learns from a traveller he meets on the road, of the terrible murder of Mr. Higginbotham of Kimballton the previous evening. Once the traveller has gone, it puzzles Dominicus that the news could have travelled so quickly from Kimballton which is sixty miles away. Nevertheless, Dominicus passes on the sensational news everywhere he goes and enjoys being the centre of attention.
Things go awry when a witness points out that Mr. Higginbotham was seen alive that very morning. Dominicus leaves town next day in a hurry...but then meets another man who again confirms specific details of the murder of Mr. Higginbotham - saying it had happened the preceding night. Once again, in the next town, Dominicus spreads the sensational gossip - but again, cast-iron witnesses prove that Mr. Higginbotham is still alive.
Dominicus is again hounded out of town. Now he determines to go and investigate the state of Mr. Higginbotham's vitality himself...