Curtis Jadwin, a self-made man whose speculations in the Chicago wheat market make a fortune for him. His ruthless ambition to corner the world wheat market causes a friend’s fortune to be wiped out; the friend commits suicide. Jadwin marries Laura Dearborn, but as his hectic financial career develops, he spends less and less time with his wife. His excessive greed and hunger for power at last cause his downfall. Financially ruined and broken in health, he and his wife go West to start a new life, happier in adversity than before.
Sheldon Corthell, a painter who, wooing the woman who also interests Jadwin, exemplifies the author’s idea of the temperamental difference that exists between stereotyped artists and financiers.
Laura Dearborn, Jadwin’s romantic young wife who, loyal to her husband, finally wins his complete devotion. She at one time is unable to decide between Corthell and Jadwin, and the fact that Jadwin wins her is significant to the author’s purpose.
Samuel Gretry, an intelligent broker whose alert mind and shrewdness, manifested in professional advice, count heavily in Jadwin’s initial fantastically successful maneuvers in the wheat exchange.
Charles Cressler and
Mrs. Cressler, first Laura’s friends and, later, Jadwin’s. Cressler, after fighting Jadwin in the exchange and losing to him—at no time does either character know the identity of his opponent—takes his own life. Knowledge of this suicide makes such a profound impression on Jadwin that he withdraws for a time from the exchange.
Page Dearborn, Laura’s sister, who is a friend of the Cresslers.
Mrs. Emily Wessels
Mrs. Emily Wessels (Aunt Wess), the aunt of Laura and Page. She also is a friend of the Cresslers.