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When Abner Peabody, one of the proprietors of the Jot 'Em Down general store in Pine Ridge, Arkansas, is notified that he has inherited the C&O Railroad from his late uncle Ernest, Abner's partner, Lum Edwards, appoints himself president of the railroad and suggests selling stock to the citizens of Pine Ridge to raise money to buy the right-of-way to the land surrounding the railroad. After raising $9,980 from their neighbors, Lum and Abner buy the rights to the land and then travel to the Chicago office of J. J. Stark, Sr., the attorney representing uncle Ernest's estate. They soon discover that the C&O tracks are missing, the cars are rotting and that the railroad's total value is $200 in scrap. Their finances exhausted by the payment of lawyer's fees and estate taxes, Lum and Abner trudge down the stairs from Stark's office. When Abner trips and falls, Mr. Pinkney, the building's nervous manager, insists that he be examined by a doctor. The doctor mixes up his patients' names, however, and as a result, Abner is misdiagnosed as having only two weeks to live. Returning to their hotel room, Lum and Abner are trying to think of ways to repay their investors when Gimpel, a window washer, climbs through the window with his imaginary dog and suggests that as Abner's days are numbered, he could make a lot of money performing death- defying labor. After they decide to advertise Abner's services in the paper, offers come in from a mad scientist who wants Abner to test his Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde formula; a promoter who wants Abner to dance with his killer gorilla; socialite Mrs. Carmen, who offers to pay Abner $1,000 to spend the night in a haunted house; and Higgens, a stunt daredevil, who offers Abner $5,000 to climb from one airplane wing to another in mid-air. Lum convinces Abner to perform the stunt, but when Higgens absconds with the money, Gimple suggests suing the building in which Abner fell down the stairs. Lum decides to represent Abner in his suit, but he misunderstands Pinkney's offer of $10,000 to be ten dollars, and settles for sixty-five dollars instead. When Elmer Kelton, a representative of the citizens of Pine Ridge, arrives at their hotel room to demand the return of their investors' money, Lum convinces Abner to reconsider Mrs. Carmen's offer. Although Mrs. Carmen claims that she wants Abner to spend a night in the house to prove that it is not haunted, she is really planning to blow up Abner and claim his body as that of her husband so that she can collect on his life insurance. After handing Abner a violin case to deliver and presenting him with a bracelet as a good luck charm, Mrs. Carmen sends him to the house. Unknown to Abner, the violin case contains a bomb and the bracelet carries her husband's name so that Abner's remains will be identified as Mr. Carmen. Forgetting the name of the street, Abner goes to the wrong address. The house is filled with Nazi spies, and when Abner enters and sees them, he runs away, leaving the bomb behind to explode and eradicate the spy ring. As the date of Abner's death approaches, Professor Albert Frisby calls to offer him $10,000 to ride in a rocket ship bound for Mars. Abner accepts, but as he waits on the launching pad, he realizes that his date with death has arrived and returns to his hotel room to die. Lum follows, and when the hotel clerk notices that he is suffering from a bad cold, he sends a doctor to the room. The doctor declares that while Abner is in perfect health, Lum is in danger of expiring, so Lum agrees to take Abner's seat on the rocket bound for Mars. After they leave for the airport, Stark calls with the news that he sold their right-of-ways for $20,000, and Gimple answers the phone and directs the lawyer to the airport. He arrives just as Lum boards the rocket, and when Abner hears the good news, he sits down on the rocket launcher, sending Lum into space. Luckily the rocket crashes, plunging Lum back to earth in Mars, Iowa.