At a young age, Mark is savvy enough to direct his lust in the direction of the town's most prosperous families, capitalizing on young ladies with social standings that can propel him up the social ladder. If it were only that simple. The town of Elder is too small for Mark and the few serious targets of his advances prove unattainable.
The most crushing denial comes from Violette Rothman, daughter of Sam Rothman, founder of The Rothman Stove Company, Elder’s largest and most successful factory. Violette admits she is flattered by Mark's invitation but her engagement and upcoming wedding to Sydney Silver, a young man from one of NYC's most established families, make the proposal an impossibility. The Silver's and the Rothman's have a history of successful business deals while Mark's history spans three generations of God-fearing Ohio farmers.
When Mark's father passed away from pneumonia years prior, Mark sold the family farm and set out on his own journey that resulted in his purchase of the Bancroft Bicycle Shop in the middle of town.
Much of Mark's early success in business stems from his bachelor lifestyle. His sexual appetite leads him to out of the way brothels where business is conducted on an entirely different level. Dating secretaries of men in power and his ability to gather inside information through those channels pays off for him when it matters most.
Mark's youthful philandering occurs at the dawn of what will become known as the Industrial Revolution. His personal growth runs parallel to the growth of a nation. The uncovering of resources, advances of machinery, breakthroughs in manufacturing all contribute to a major economic boom that firmly establishes the United States as the leader. It's a manmade revolution and one of its cornerstones is a resource discovered thousands of miles away.