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Charlie Dugan is the "fixer" for the Barvin Circus, a fast-talking diplomat who spends most of his time smoothing out arguments with local sheriffs and patrons, as well as patching up internal difficulties among the show's personnel. One such difficulty involves the future of little Terry, whose mother, a high-wire artist, has fallen to her death. Dugan suggests the orphan be put in a foster home, but Terry objects, and when the sheriff takes her away for lack of supervision, Adgie Moreno, a circus lion tamer who feels guilty because she had feuded with Terry's mother before her death, lies to the judge and says she is the girl's mother. Soon after she is adopted into the circus family, Terry overhears Darlow, a representative from their rival circus, and his strongman talk about repossessing Adgie's lions, which they claim Adgie had sold to them according to a contractual agreement. Rushing to warn Adgie, Terry risks her life by entering the lions' cage in the middle of a performance, and is scolded by Adgie for her foolishness. However, because Barvin loved Terry in the act, he instructs Adgie to use her in the future. When Darlow shows up again, Dugan invalidates the ill-gotten contract by crossing the state line, but Darlow retaliates by filing a complaint about Barvin's underaged performer. To everyone's astonishment, Terry is taken to the Marysville Kansas Home for Children, where she is put under the care of superintendent Fletcher. Later, Adgie misses Terry so much that she gets Barvin to re-route the circus so that they can pass through Marysville. The circus troop puts on a performance at the orphanage and after they leave, Terry emerges from a basket in the back of their truck. Adgie admits her complicity in the abduction, but the circus continues nevertheless. Meanwhile, Dugan manages to trick Darlow into selling back the lions. When some of the lions are let loose, Adgie risks her life to save Terry, who had become trapped by the lions. When Mrs. Fletcher learns about Adgie's act of courage, she suggests that she file for adoption again, hinting at the fact that her case may be reconsidered.