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Because they refused to participate in a prison escape, in which a fellow convict, Armand Lescalie, was killed, William "Gabby" Stone and Alfred "Tiny" Smith receive commendations from the Alabama governor and are freed. A few weeks later, Bill Drexel, another reluctant escapee, also is released and tracks his ex-convict friends to a horse stable in New Orleans. Although Bill discourages Gabby and Tiny from pursuing a robbery and horse-betting scheme, he feels no compunction about looking up Miss Minnie, Armand's supposedly rich mother, in a Louisiana shrimping village. When Bill arrives in the small, impoverished Cajun village, he is dismayed to learn from Sarah, Miss Minnie's daughter, that not only is the widowed Miss Minnie not rich, but her shrimping business is on the verge of a hostile takeover by the shrewd half-Chinese smuggler and racketeer, Sam Kee. Before the disappointed Bill leaves the village, however, Tiny and Gabby show up, hungry and pursued, having failed at both their robbery and betting schemes. While Tiny and Gabby search for food, the village is stirred by the arrival of Ambrose, the Lescalies' old friend, whom Miss Minnie had contacted for financial help. After a night of festivities, Ambrose promises to return with the needed money, but is seen leaving by Kee and is killed. The next morning, as the village sheriff is about to auction off Miss Minnie's business to a cohort of Kee, Tiny spots a safe in Kee's boat and, with Gabby's help, steals enough cash for Bill to buy the business himself. Gabby then pickpockets more money from one of Kee's henchmen, and as her partner, Bill is able to revitalize Miss Minnie's sabotaged shrimping operation. Four weeks later, Bill discovers that he has fallen in love with Sarah and tells her about his troubled life, which includes a disapproving father in Boston and an alcohol-induced marriage to a gold-digging waitress. Sarah is heartbroken by the news and is even more stunned when Ruby, Bill's wife, suddenly arrives in the village. Depressed that Ruby refuses to divorce him, Bill takes a late-night walk on the village pier and is kidnapped by Kee and his men. Gabby and Tiny, however, see Kee rowing Bill to his boat and pursue him in their own rowboat. At the same time, the Coast Guard, suspicious that Kee is using the village to smuggle Chinese refugees in from Mexico, confront Kee's ship with warning gun fire. Before the Coast Guard boards his ship, however, Kee disposes of his illegal cargo by throwing the bound-and-gagged Chinese refugees and Bill overboard. After Tiny executes an underwater rescue of Bill, the three men board Kee's ship and beat and tie up their foes. When Bill returns to shore, he is met by Lodge, his father's lawyer. As a joyful Sarah listens, Lodge informs Bill that his father is anxious for a reconciliation, and that, after he was sent to prison, Ruby had divorced him. Finally free of his past, Bill embraces Sarah.