The Shell Game was based on a Saturday Evening Post short story by Kenneth Roberts, who later attained best-seller status with his historical novel Northwest Passage. Having come into a modest inheritance, countrified heroine Emmy Wehlen heads to New York, convinced that she has a future as an opera singer. Quickly cheated out of her savings by a phony voice teacher, Wehlan is forced to take a low-paying job as a shopgirl. While thus employed, she meets another slick con artist (Joseph Kilgour) who tries to pass off the heroine as the long-lost daughter of an ageing but still handsome millionaire (Henry Kolker). Despite his suspicious nature, the millionaire apparently falls for the scam hook, line, and sinker, surrounding Wehlen with all manner of luxury. Eventually, the girl's conscience gets the better of her, and she confesses that she's not the daughter. But instead of expressing outrage, the millionaire admits that he never had a daughter; he merely wanted to "put one over" on the con man who cooked up the scheme. This said, the millionaire proposes marriage to his "daughter" -- and she, undoubtedly caught off guard by this dizzying turn of events, instantly accepts.
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