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In 1927, a chautauqua company comes into Radford Center, Iowa, and its new manager, Walter Hale, is attracted to Charlene, the Story Lady, despite their frequent quarrels over Charlene's attempts to form a union of the performers. Charlene, given the job of choosing a local child for the lead in the pageant, selects Carol Bix, whose mother, Nita, is an employee of the evil druggist Wilby. Local dignitaries are upset over the decision to use the Bix girl because they expected to see one of their own children selected. Wilby's body is found floating in the lake, and gambler Clarence is arrested. Walter realizes that Nita killed Wilby (he had forced her into having an affair with him), and he persuades her to confess publicly as part of the chautauqua performance. As a result of Nita's plea of self-defense against the lecherous Wilby, Clarence is cleared of the charge, and Nita is exonerated and gains enough money to realize her dream of moving to a new town with Carol and starting anew. Although Charlene is outraged at Walter's exploiting a killing for the company's financial advantage and threatens to quit, Walter manages to convince her of his integrity and persuades her to return to the company. Songs include : "Clean Up Your Own Back Yard," "America, the Beautiful," "A Thweet Yellow Tulip," "Toot-Toot-Tootsie," "Mademoiselle From Armantiers," "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep."