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Fast-talking confidence man Wally Brooks, called "The Lemon Drop Kid" because of his love of the candy, works the racetracks with his partner, William Dunhill, known as the "Professor," earning a living from the dupes who fall for their tips. When irascible multimillionaire Griggsby, who is confined to a wheelchair by his arthritis, arrives at the track, Wally offers him a lemon drop as a placebo and convinces him to place one hundred dollars on a horse. The money is stolen out of Wally's pocket, however, and when the horse miraculously wins, Wally is accused of theft and is forced to flee the track. While on the run, he meets Jonas Deering, a kindly alcoholic on a drinking binge, and escorts him home to the small town of Kibbsville. Jonas' daughter Alice welcomes Wally and falls in love with him, convincing him to take a job at penny-pinching Martin Potter's store, where Alice also works. When Wally tries to place a call to the Professor, Alice learns that he is wanted by the police. Eventually, Wally proposes and is about to confess his past, when Alice assures him she loves him and does not need to know it. They marry and Alice gets pregnant. When a serious complication arises before she is full-term, her doctor urges Wally to take her to a specialist in the city, but he has no money. After being denied a loan by Potter, Wally is forced to hold him up to save Alice, but is too late with the money. Alice gives birth to a baby boy, Wally, Jr., then dies. The police then arrest Wally, who gave himself away by eating a lemon drop during the heist. Utterly despondent, Wally ignores his son and becomes bitter and insubordinate in prison. A kindly warden who is aware of his tragedy arranges for Wally to visit with Wally, Jr., and father learns to love son. After Jonas dies from alcoholism, Wally, Jr. is put up for adoption. The Professor, meanwhile, has married his partner, Maizie, and they have made enough money to adopt Wally, Jr. The papers report only that the Brooks baby was adopted by "a wealthy Manhattan couple," and when Wally is paroled, he is more despondent than ever to have lost his son. Eventually, he gets a message to visit the Professor and is met by Griggsby. Cured of his arthritis by lemon drops, Griggsby gives Wally a check for $5,000 minus the original hundred lost, then escorts him to see his son, announcing that he appointed himself Wally, Jr.'s foster father.