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In 1917, banker George Winfield and his family, wife Alice, eighteen-year-old tomboy Marjorie, eleven-year-old Wesley and Max, the dog, move into a big new house. Although everyone, including Stella, the maid, hates the new house and neighborhood, George is determined that his children, particularly Margie, will have the opportunity to meet a better class of people. At his father's urging, Wesley makes friends with Jim Sherman, who offers to demonstrate his father's gun, which, Jim claims, was previously owned by Jesse James. After Margie joins some boys in a baseball game and scores the winning run, she sees Wesley and Jim take the gun into a barn. She runs off to stop them, but manages to accidentally discharge it, causing the barn door to collapse on Jim's older brother William. Bill initially mistakes Margie for a boy, but soon discovers she is a lovely young woman and comes courting. Equally taken with Bill, Margie enlists her mother's help and is transformed into a more feminine-looking woman. On their first date, Bill, who is a senior at the University of Indiana, claims to believe that the world situation is too serious for any form of entertainment. Nevertheless, he dances with Margie and then offers to win her a doll at a game booth. When he does not succeed, he loudly accuses the barker of running a dishonest game, and to prove his fairness, the man offers Margie three free throws. Tomboy Margie successfully completes them and, after some further argument, is given a doll. By the end of the evening, Bill and Margie have fallen in love. Some time later, George asks Bill what his intentions are toward Margie, and after Bill makes disparaging comments about bankers, George forbids him to see her. Margie's other suitor, stuffy music teacher Hubert Wakley, is more to her father's liking. One day, Wesley, having forgotten to write a letter for a school assignment, steals a love letter Margie is writing to Bill, who is now away at school. He is forced to read it aloud to the class and the romantic language makes him a laughingstock. Blaming Margie for his humiliation, Wesley decides to punish her by disrupting her date with Hubert, not knowing that she cannot stand him, and at the end of the afternoon, Margie rewards Wesley with a big hug. Margie has been secretly taking dancing lessons as a surprise for Bill, whom she has invited to a Christmas dance. On the way home, she is taunted by some boys and, in the ensuing snowball fight, slips and breaks her ankle. Later, Wesley watches a movie about the destructive effect that drinking has on one family, and when he is caught sleeping in class, spins a story for the teacher, Miss Mary Stevens, about his father's drunken behavior. On Christmas Eve, Bill arrives home and encounters Mary, who repeats Wesley's story. Horrified, Bill marches to the Winfields' house, determined to rescue Margie. Seeing George asleep on the couch, Bill mistakenly believes he is in a drunken stupor and throws a pitcher of water on him. His lie revealed, Wesley runs off to join a group of carolers led by Hubert. At the end of the school year, the Winfields attend Bill's graduation. While Bill makes a speech announcing that his entire class has enlisted in the Army, Margie informs her father that Bill does not believe in marriage, and an appalled George drags his entire family away. A brokenhearted Margie runs away and meets Bill on the troop train. Bill proposes, but George, who has followed her to the train, does not believe he is sincere. Later, on Wesley's twelfth birthday, George's aunt Martha brings Wesley cookies, a knife and a slingshot that she took away from George when he was a boy. During the birthday party, Bill arrives unexpectedly and formally asks George for permission to marry Margie. When George again refuses, Alice reminds him that he was once young and foolish, but it is only after Wesley breaks a window with George's old slingshot that he relents and Bill and Margie are married.