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After an escaped lion is held at bay by small town resident Matt Varney, Nick Coster, the owner of Coster's Circus, offers him a job assisting the circus lion tamer, Hoffman the Great. Nick's original plan is simply to use Matt as a gimmick to attract the townspeople, but Matt shows a natural ability with the lions so Nick hires him permanently. Flo Lorraine, Nick's girl friend and the circus fortune teller, befriends Matt, all the while believing that he is too nice to work in a circus. One day, when Hoffman is too drunk to perform, Matt takes over and does so well that Nick fires Hoffman. Seeking revenge, Hoffman sneaks into the circus, picks a fight with Matt and is badly clawed by a rogue lion. Afraid that Hoffman might die, Flo takes Matt to Nick's nearby family farm to hide out, even though Nick has issued strict orders for everyone to keep away from his sister Mary because he wants her to associate with a better class of people. When Nick learns where Matt is hiding, he rushes to the farm, but by the time he arrives, Mary and Matt have already fallen in love. Despite Nick's orders, Matt cannot forget about Mary, and reveals his feelings to Flo, who mistakenly believes that Matt is in love with her. When she realizes that he loves Mary, she advises him to return to her. Nick is determined to prevent his sister from marrying Matt and, after Flo leaves the circus because she is in love with Matt, decides to force Matt to work with mankilling lion Caesar. Flo stops at Nick's farm and begs Mary to take Matt away from the circus. By the time they return, Matt is already in the ring with Caesar. Without Matt's knowledge, Nick has removed the blanks from his gun, making him defenseless against the lion. Mary pleads with Nick to save Matt and, out of love for his sister, he draws Caesar away from Matt. Before the badly mauled Nick dies, he asks Flo to see that Matt and Mary are wed.