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Paddy O'Day, an eight-year-old Irish girl, travels with her dog Tim to New York to live with her mother, a cook working for the wealthy Ford family. At Ellis Island, after the Fords' servant Benton informs immigration officer Tom McGuire that Paddy's mother died a few days earlier, McGuire tells Paddy that her mother is sick and could not come, and although he is pained by the situation, he arranges for Paddy to be sent back to Ireland. Tamara Petrovitch, an immigrant from Russia, with whom Paddy made friends on the boat, learns that Paddy's mother has died and offers to take care of her because she has no family in Ireland, but McGuire refuses. To escape the island and visit her mother, Paddy hides in a large milk container on a dairy truck and makes her way to Manhattan. After she gets into a fight with a street tough who makes fun of her Irish brogue, a sympathetic Irish cop orders a driver whom he has stopped for speeding to take Paddy to the Ford home in Southampton, where Roy Ford, a recluse whose only pleasures come from songwriting and his collection of stuffed birds, lives with his two domineering, spinster aunts, Flora and Jane. When Paddy arrives, Dora, the Fords' maid, reveals that her mother has died and convinces Benton and the other servants to hide Paddy in the house. As the two aunts pack to leave on a trip, Tim corners the Fords' cat Mathilda on top of a grandfather clock, and their subsequent chase is heard by the aunts. Paddy retrieves Tim and hides in Roy's room, where Tim goes after a prized stuffed bird. When Paddy gets the bird without allowing Tim to mangle it, Roy is greatly relieved. He hides Paddy when his aunts come to his door, and they leave after commanding him to remain on his vegetable diet and to keep his feet warm. Tamara and her brother Mischa, who runs the Café Petrovitch, come looking for Paddy, and Tamara convinces Roy to let Paddy live with her, because, she believes, the immigration officers would never think to look for her there. Mischa also induces Roy, who is attracted to Tamara, to put up $10,000 and become his partner in remodeling the café to put on a big stage show. Although Tamara warns Roy that Mischa's imagination often gets the best of him, Roy nonetheless is enthusiastic. Soon Roy's home is filled with live birds in cages rather than stuffed ones, and he sports a mustache and Russian outfit and drinks vodka. When his aunts return and protest, he says that his new friends are teaching him how to live, whereupon Flora and Jane faint. The day before the opening of the show, which contains songs written by Roy, his aunts learn that Tamara has been harboring Paddy. They plan to have both Paddy and Tamara deported and to commit Roy to a sanitarium until he gets over his infatuation. After the successful performance, McGuire, notified by the aunts, comes to the club to take Paddy and Tamara. Roy offers to adopt Paddy and then confesses to his aunts that he and Tamara were secretly married the day before. The aunts faint again, while Mischa talks to McGuire about investing in the club. Finally, the aunts are won over. Roy cannot kiss Tamara because the air-filled suit that he wears for the act gets in the way, so Paddy punches the air out of it.