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Exasperated by the antics of Smiley Greevins, the mischievous young son of blacksmith Bill Greevins, Sgt. Flaxman, the constable of the Australian back-country town of Murrumbilla, admonishes the boy to learn responsibility. As an incentive, the sergeant promises to give Smiley a rifle when the boy performs eight responsible acts. Each act will be scored by a mark on a tree, and a mark will be subtracted for every reckless deed. Skeptical about his son's ability to reform, Bill bets his friend Stiffy that Smiley will never earn the gun. The controversy sparks a series of wagers amongst the townsfolk as to whether Smiley will get his gun. When Smiley announces his bargain, his schoolteacher, Miss McCowan, offers to allow him to pump the church organ to earn one mark. Next, Smiley volunteers to deliver some bees to Granny McKinley, the reclusive owner of the town store who is purported to be a witch. With trepidation, Smiley gives Granny the bees, and in gratitude, she presents the boy with some candy. Soon after, Quirk, a writer from Sydney, arrives in town to observe some "local color." Upon learning of Smiley's good deeds, the sergeant awards him two marks on the tree. During church that Sunday, Smiley pumps away furiously at the organ while one of his friends lets a goat into the chapel through the back door. Blamed for the prank, Smiley loses one of his good behavior marks. Seeking solace, Smiley tells Granny that he has been unjustly accused. Something about Smiley reminds Granny of her long-lost son, causing Granny to bond with the boy and show him her hidden treasure box filled with gold coins. A well is being drilled to deliver water to the town, and at the drill site, the workers who have bet against Smiley give his best friend Joey a packet of gun powder, hoping that the boys will get into trouble. After accidentally starting a brush fire with the gun powder, Joey is struck by a fallen tree limb and begs Smiley not to tell anyone that he was responsible for the inferno. Accusing Smiley of the fire, the sergeant calls off his bargain until he learns that Joey, while under anesthetic, admitted to starting the blaze. After apologizing to Smiley, the sergeant restores his marks, sparking a new round of betting. At the town talent show, Bill, determined to win his wager, tricks Smiley into reciting a vulgar limerick, causing the betting members of the audience to break into a brawl over obliterating Smiley's good conduct marks. One day, Quirk tells Smiley that he is writing a story about Granny and the legend of her gold, thus tricking the boy into disclosing Granny's hiding place for the treasure. To ensure a clear path to the gold, Quirk suggests that Granny, who never leaves her room, be given the honor of christening the well. When the sergeant offers Smiley three more marks if he can persuade Granny to officiate at the ceremony, Granny agrees so that Smiley can finally earn his rifle. Upon noticing Quirk's absence at the ceremony, Smiley runs back to Granny's store to ascertain that the gold is safe. Granny returns home elated until she discovers that the gold is gone and accuses Smiley of the theft. Upset, Smiley runs away but is found by Stiffy, who brings him back to town. At a pre-trial hearing, things look grim for Smiley when Granny's niece Elsie testifies that the boy returned to the store during the ceremony and Granny asserts that Smiley was the only person who knew where the gold was hidden. After court is adjourned, Joey tells Stiffy that he saw Quirk sneak into Granny's house. As court is called back into session, Smiley's father runs into the chambers bearing Granny's coffer of gold, which he plucked from the back of Quirk's car. The sergeant then returns the gold to Granny and awards Smiley with his hard-earned rifle.