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On the second-class level of the S.S. Olympus Southampton , society debutante Janette Foster, who attracts men's attention by trying to use an unfilled cigarette lighter, gets a light from cynical professional gambler John Francis Dugan. When Dugan learns who she is, he tries to avoid her because of her unsavory reputation; however, they become friends and sneak into the first-class section together. There they see young Fred Curtis lose twelve thousand dollars playing poker with wealthy oilmen Colonel Upton Calhoun Belcher and Orville Schmelling. Fred's mistress, Mrs. Millicent Caldwell Bath, then blackmails him into agreeing to take a stolen pearl necklace through customs by threatening to present his phony notes for twenty thousand dollars to the police. After Janette stops the distraught Fred from jumping overboard, Dugan has her move into first class to arrange a poker game with the oilmen. Dugan then wins Fred's overdrawn check from Belcher, and when he returns it to Fred, he notices a picture of Fred's deceased mother. Recognizing her as his former wife, Dugan realizes that Fred is his son. In a drunken state, he explains to Janette that Mrs. Curtis, his wife's snobbish Bostonian mother, convinced her to leave him. After his wife died, he enlisted during World War I, and later, unable to get a job, he took up cards. Dugan lures Mrs. Bath into offering him money to take the necklace through customs because Fred has refused. Dugan finds Fred's notes in Mrs. Bath's room and, after discovering the pearls hidden in a walking stick, replaces them with aspirin tablets. Fred then offers to take the necklace, and because Dugan is now under guard to keep him from gambling, Mrs. Bath agrees. At the dock, Dugan puts the pearls in Belcher's jacket, and when they fall out and Mrs. Bath claims them, she is arrested. After returning Fred's notes, Dugan tells him to quit gambling and informs Mrs. Curtis that Fred does not know his identity. He takes a taxi with Janette, who now has her lighter filled. After they kiss, she remarks that she won't need to use it anymore.