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Merchant Stephen Cruthers is a pillar of strength in his small Iowa town. He empathizes with his son Ray when the boy is torn between pursuing a medical career or marrying Sylvia, banker Clem Bartholomew's daughter. Stephen's good deeds extend to the reformation of the town drunk, Mudcat, whose new gift wrapping gadget is patented by the kindly merchant. Disappointed in love years earlier when Clem married the woman he loved, Stephen nevertheless is called upon by the local residents to come to Clem's aid when his bank fails during the Depression. After Stephen rejects a plea by Sylvia to save the bank by making a large deposit, the locals learn of his apparently selfish refusal to act and form a lynch mob outside his house. Stephen addresses the crowd and disarms them by giving a speech on rights and ethics and by explaining that his reason for not helping is that he knows the bank will fail regardless of his aid because of poor management. At Christmas time, Stephen has a change of heart and decides to save Clem's bank on the condition that he be allowed to take control of its operations and rescue it from mismanagement. The reformed Mudcat is made vice president of the bank and Clem and Stephen make amends. Later, when Sylvia tells Ray that she plans to marry Rex, Stephen comforts his son by explaining how important it is to keep fond memories of lost loves, and at the same time, be able to appreciate present and future loves.