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Although still a young man, Cash McCall has already made and lost several fortunes by buying shaky business empires, making them profitable and selling them, while maintaining a low profile. Jealous gossips liken him to a "pirate," but Cash's dealings are always ethical and tend to benefit the people around him. Grant Austen, the owner of Austen Plastics, is weary of running his business and consequently, when Gen. Danvers, head of Scofield Industries, the company that buys sixty percent of Austen products, threatens to move his business to another company, Austen confides to Gilmore Clark of Corporate Associates, a management consultant company Austen has retained, that he wants to retire. Later, Austen tells his daughter Lory, a children's book illustrator with whom he often discusses business, that he did not reveal to Gil his company's precarious relationship with Scofield. Gil discusses Austen's case with his boss, Harrison Glenn, who suggests Cash as a potential buyer and arranges for Gil to meet Cash. At Cash's penthouse above a luxurious hotel, Gil learns that Cash owns a controlling interest in Corporate Associates. Impressed with Gil's business acumen, Cash offers him a job as his assistant. A noise in his kitchen alerts Cash to the presence of Maude Kennard, the hotel's assistant manager, who takes an unusually personal interest in the housekeeping services that the hotel supplies Cash. Meanwhile, banker Will Atherson tells Austen that Cash might be interested in buying his company. He introduces Cash to Austen and Lory, who has inherited ten percent of the company and who stiffly acknowledges that she already has met Cash. Cash invites Austen and Lory to his apartment to discuss the sale and, as a professional courtesy, explains that he owns Corporate Associates, so that Austen is aware of potential bias in Gil's advice. Cash asks about Danvers' interest in buying out Austen, but Austen says the general can only pay in stocks and cannot meet the asking price of $2,000,000. Cash agrees to Austen's price and suggests that Austen talk to his lawyer, Winston Conway, before finalizing the sale. While Austen is calling Conway, Cash tries to talk to Lory about the previous summer in Maine, but she refuses to listen, declaring that she no longer thinks of him. Not believing her, Cash pulls her into his bedroom where, prominently displayed, is a portrait she painted of the mythical Robin Hood, bearing a marked resemblance to Cash. When Austen returns, he accepts Cash's offer. On another day, Cash drops by the Austen household to discuss a trifling business detail. Miriam, Austen's wife, immediately sees him as marriage material for her daughter and finagles Lory into driving Cash to the airport. At the airport, Cash tricks Lory into entering his private plane and then takes off, flying to his undeveloped property in the Aurora Valley. Having her undivided attention, Cash describes in a story-tale fashion how he met Lory at a party in Maine last summer. He says he fell in love, but felt unready for it and cruelly sent her away when she later appeared at his cabin. Realizing his mistake too late, he has been looking for her ever since. Later, in town, Gil tells Cash that Austen registered several valuable design patents, which will become Cash's property after the sale. The men then realize that Danvers needs the patents to preserve his own business empire. When Danvers declares that he will find a way to buy the Austen Plastics, Cash realizes that it is unlikely, as Scofield stock, which has not issued dividends in two years, is not worth much. Believing he could make Scofield profitable, Cash schemes to buy up Scofield stock and gain control of the company. He learns that Scofield's medical research foundation, which owns a large portion of the stock and depends on the dividends to carry out its mission, has been hampered by the lack of funding. Cash again finds Kennard puttering around in his kitchen, but does not recognize her solicitude as an attempt to attract him and tells her about his plans to bring a woman into his life. After Austen formally signs over the company, Cash entertains Lory, who has resumed her interest in him, at his apartment and tells her about his unstable life of changeable fortune. While they are talking, Gil calls him to an emergency meeting with Dr. Bergmann, the head of the Scofield Foundation, who owns a large block of stock and wants to support Cash. Before reluctantly departing for the meeting, Cash asks Lory to marry him. She says yes, promising to wait at the apartment until he returns. When the jealous Kennard learns that Lory is upstairs, she uses her master key to enter Cash's apartment and insinuates that she and Cash have a relationship. Meanwhile, having won the backing of the foundation, Cash, who is now planning a merger of the Scofield and Austen companies, confronts Danvers and suggests that he appoint the highly capable Gil as president and become the company's chairman, a position in which Danvers can make use of his military contacts to solicit government contracts. When Cash returns to his penthouse, Kennard, not Lory, is waiting for him. Although Kennard says she did not see Lory, Cash guesses what has happened and threatens to have her fired. To sour Cash's deal to buy Austen Plastics, one of Danvers' cronies seeks out Austen and convinces him that Cash planted his own people to advise Austen to sell out for a million dollars less than the company is worth. When the man warns Austen that Cash will "use your own family" to achieve his aims, Austen calls the hotel and asks to speak to Lory. The call is put through to Kennard, who vengefully says that Cash has been taking advantage of Lory. Later, Will, Gil, Glenn and Conway call an emergency meeting to inform Cash that Austen is considering a lawsuit against them all and they suggest that Cash "drop the deal." Cash visits Austen at home, and, after a loud argument, explains that he bought the company as a means of communicating with Lory. When Austen accuses Cash of using Gil as a spy, Lory recalls how Cash told them that he owned Gil's company. Although Cash is tempted to reverse the sale, Lory insists that he stand up for himself. Austen, remembering how he withheld information about the company's dependence on Scofield, softens. Cash then reminds Austen of the patents, which make Danvers dependent on him and not the other way around. After Austen and Cash reconcile, Lory demands that Cash explain Kennard's presence in his apartment and upon learning that, as a hotel employee, Kennard has a master key, Lory forgives Cash. Reunited with Lory, Cash, who has always believed his only talent is making money, tells Gil that they will not "unload" the company after improving it and asks Austen, who already misses his job, to remain on staff as his "idea man."