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Rudyard Morley, the renowned caustic-witted English author, journeys to the United States on a goodwill lecture tour. Morley, a gourmet, becomes distraught when his cook is unable to accompany him. Traveling with his secretary-daughter Pamela, Morley arrives in New York and boards a train for the small New England town of Colcord. On the train, Pamela becomes intrigued by Mike Scott, a young lieutenant, but the young man is affronted by the cantankerous Morley. Lucille Scott, Mike's mother and the grand dame of Colcord's cultural activities, arranges a royal welcome at the station for Morley. When Morley snubs the welcoming party, he alienates Mrs. Scott and the town's leading citizenry and embarrasses Pamela. Upon discovering that Mrs. Scott's cook Hattie is a virtuoso in the kitchen, however, Morley convinces Pamela to finagle a dinner invitation to the Scotts'. After dinner, Morley steals Hattie away from the Scotts by telling her that she is wasting her great talents catering to people who don't appreciate her artistry. The theft of Hattie precipitates a battle between Mrs. Scott and Morley which is covered by the press. Realizing that his mother's attacks against Morley are based upon the loss of her cook, Mike lures Hattie back to the kitchen. Tired of her employer's hysteria, Mrs. Scott's long-suffering secretary Agnes Willoughby informs Morley that he can get Hattie back by offering her good-for-nothing husband Duke steady employment. Determined to win his battle with Mrs. Scott and snub the American populace in general, Morley plans to make a vitriolic speech on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the founding of Colcord. Pamela, who has fallen in love with Mike, decides to prevent her father from speaking by staging a fake elopement to Canada with Mike, which she knows will bring Morley chasing after them. Meanwhile, Morley, who has gone to the Thornton farm where Hattie's husband is helping to harvest the crops, gets involved in a fight and is arrested for disturbing the peace. In Canada, Mike and Pamela hear of Morley's arrest and return to Colcord, where Pamela informs her father that she intends to marry Mike in earnest. After managing to get bailed out of jail just before the Colcord anniversary proceedings start, Morley ascends the stage. Just as the populace is about to boo him off the platform, Morley surprises everyone by apologizing for being an old fool and declaring that he has come to admire the American people. Feted by all of Colcord and invited by the President to Washington, Morley is given a royal send-off at the station, and with him, departs Agnes, the secretary, whom he has stolen with the same tactics he used on Hattie the cook.