A young Mark Mann demonstrates his sexual prowess and his savvy deal making skills by cleverly navigating the local townsfolk.
Local bicycle salesman Mark Mann is young, handsome and ambitious. He attempts to gain an audience with Colonel Smith at the Fort Lincoln Army Base in his hometown of Elder, Ohio. He wants the Army to buy a fleet of his bikes for the base. The flirtatious desk clerk explains the Colonel has no time for such meetings and he’s turned away. While at the base, Mark becomes aware of the Army’s problems with their coal stoves in the mess hall.
Meanwhile, in Colonel Smith’s office, local Congressman Charles Tutwiler explains he is likely moving the Fort Lincoln bank accounts over to Elder Bank & Trust. This meeting is broken up when a lieutenant, covered in soot, interrupts to inform Colonel Smith the coal stoves need major repair.
Ilene Sherbaugh is the voluptuous secretary of Elder Bank & Trust president Horace Brown. She sits in on a private meeting between the Congressman and Horace who agrees to arrange an interest free loan to the Congressman in exchange for promise of the Army's accounts. Irene takes notes for drafting the necessary paperwork.
On her lunch break, Ilene visits Mark at his bike store. They have more sex than lunch. Afterwards, Ilene tells Mark of the shady Congressman’s deal with the bank, giving Mark an idea.
Flashback to a glimpse of history of the Mann family farm. A five year old Mark watches as his mother dies during childbirth. At the funeral, he runs free. His mourning father does nothing to slow him down. Many believe this is the catalyst for the life that was to follow.
Return to 1900, Mark attends the 4th of July parade with Colleen Dunn, an attractive restaurant manager who eternally yearns for Mark’s affection. Neither Mark nor Colleen have a great reputation among the townsfolk who scoff at the sight of the couple. While they both find it somewhat amusing, Colleen does pry about Mark’s intentions with local gals, including Ilene Sherbaugh and the wealthiest girl in town, Violette Rothman, whose father Sam owns The Rothman Stove Company, the town’s largest employer. The stove company’s work force marches in the parade in impressive numbers, just ahead of Congressman Tutwiler waving from his car. A spirit of industrial growth is in the air.
Following the parade, Mark waits for the Congressman to finish a speech in the park. He approaches the Congressman and flatters him with praise. Then he uses Ilene’s inside info about the bank loan and blackmails the Congressman into getting him a meeting with Colonel Smith.
Mark aims straight for the top. He boldly knocks on Sam Rothman’s door and claims he’s got a big buyer for his stoves. But he wants a cut of the sale. Sam is a shrewd businessman but following a tough negotiation and questions of character meant to insult Mark, he approves Mark’s request to sell the Army his gas stoves, and to take his cut.
Mark’s exit from the Rothman house is distracted by a faint piano playing in another room. He cautiously approaches to find a delicate and mesmerizing Violette Rothman, playing a beautiful sonata. Mark is immediately aroused. But he hesitates to enter. He looks back toward Sam’s office then down at his scratch paper where he’s calculated his cut from the stove deal. He’s caught in a bind, considering the consequences and knowing that approaching Violette could anger Sam and ruin the deal.