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In Washington, D.C., chemist Christopher Parker drops by the U.S. Patent Office, hoping to obtain a patent for his new invention. Kindly clerk Mr. Abbott informs Chris, who has driven from Ohio, that the process will take a few days, then invites him to stay at his Georgetown boardinghouse. Soon after moving into the boardinghouse, which contains many unusual inventions, Chris meets Abbott's daughter Alva and is immediately smitten. When Chris learns from the Abbotts' servant Aristotle that Alva is romantically involved with Roger Abernathy, a junior executive at the oil company for which Alva works, he becomes discouraged, even though Aristotle assures him that Alva does not really love Roger. The next day, Alva offers to give Chris a tour of the city, and before they set off in his car, they stop at a gas station, where Chris uses his invention--a pill that can transform water into gasoline--to fill up his tank. Alva refuses to believe Chris's claim that he has discovered a simple way to turn water into gas and later jokes about it with Roger. Using a tub of water and an outboard motor, Chris demonstrates his pill for Abbott, Aristotle and fellow lodger and inventor Joe Hershey, who are amazed. Feeling that Chris's invention is of national importance, Abbott advises him to give the formula to the government. Abbott volunteers to present the invention around town, but is dismissed as an eccentric at every agency he visits. Alva, meanwhile, finally witnesses the pill in action and rushes to tell A. B. Blair, her employer at the financially troubled Capitol Oil Company, about it. Blair at first ignores Alva, but eventually realizes that she is telling the truth. With Roger and his top chemist, Axel Thorgelson, in tow, Blair races to the boardinghouse, demanding a demonstration. As the unsuspecting Chris shows off his invention, Thorgelson steals a pill from his vial. Joe, who saw Thorgelson slip the pill into his pocket, later tells Chris and Abbott about the subterfuge, and Chris, feeling helpless, prepares to return to Ohio without a patent. Before packing, however, he confesses his love to Alva. Moments later, she admits to Chris that she returns his feelings, unaware that he has just been knocked out by one of the boardinghouse inventions and cannot hear her. At Capitol Oil, meanwhile, Thorgelson reveals to Blair that, even with the pill, he has been unable to duplicate Chris's formula. Now desperate, Blair questions Alva and learns that Chris is on the road to Ohio. After Blair decides to use the company helicopter to search for Chris, Abbott tricks him into agreeing to pay Chris handsomely for his formula. Blair, Abbott, Roger and Alva then take off in the helicopter and intercept Chris in rural Maryland. When "Gas Gat" McGuinness, a fugitive criminal whom Chris picked up hitchhiking, sees the helicoptor bearing down on the car, he jumps out in a panic, causing Chris to crash into a farmer's haystack. The helicopter lands, and after Alva embraces Chris in front of a stunned Roger, Blair insists that they all remain on the farm until his deal with Chris has been signed. That evening, as Chris is about to reveal his gas formula, which he has memorized but never written down, Gas Gat, who believes that Chris is a fellow fugitive, "rescues" him at gunpoint. In the ensuing confusion, Chris falls down the farm well and is knocked out. Although Chris is quickly retrieved and revived, he has no memory of the formula or his invention. After Blair finally despairs of ever obtaining the formula, Chris proposes to Alva. In response, Alva gives Chris a passionate kiss, which restores his memory. With his formula back in his head, Chris returns Alva's kiss and looks forward to a happy, prosperous life with her.