A Poor Wise Man HTML version

Chapter 2
Shortly after the Civil War Anthony Cardew had left Pittsburgh and spent a year
in finding a location for the investment of his small capital. That was in the very
beginning of the epoch of steel. The iron business had already laid the
foundations of its future greatness, but steel was still in its infancy.
Anthony's father had been an iron-master in a small way, with a monthly pay-roll
of a few hundred dollars, and an abiding faith in the future of iron. But he had
never dreamed of steel. But "sixty-five" saw the first steel rail rolled in America,
and Anthony Cardew began to dream. He went to Chicago first, and from there to
Michigan, to see the first successful Bessemer converter. When he started east
again he knew what he was to make his life work.
He was very young and his capital was small. But he had an abiding faith in the
new industry. Not that he dreamed then of floating steel battleships. But he did
foresee steel in new and various uses. Later on he was experimenting with steel
cable at the very time Roebling made it a commercial possibility, and with it the
modern suspension bridge and the elevator. He never quite forgave Roebling.
That failure of his, the difference only of a month or so, was one of the few
disappointments of his prosperous, self-centered, orderly life. That, and Howard's
marriage. And, at the height of his prosperity, the realization that Howard's
middle-class wife would never bear a son.
The city he chose was a small city then, yet it already showed signs of
approaching greatness. On the east side, across the river, he built his first plant,
a small one, with the blast heated by passing through cast iron pipes, with the
furnaceman testing the temperature with strips of lead and zinc, and the skip
hoist a patient mule.
He had ore within easy hauling distance, and he had fuel, and he had, as time
went on, a rapidly increasing market. Labor was cheap and plentiful, too, and
being American-born, was willing and intelligent. Perhaps Anthony Cardew's sins
of later years were due to a vast impatience that the labor of the early seventies
was no longer to be had.
The Cardew fortune began in the seventies. Up to that time there was a struggle,
but in the seventies Anthony did two things. He went to England to see the
furnaces there, and brought home a wife, a timid, tall Englishwoman of
irreproachable birth, who remained always an alien in the crude, busy new city.
And he built himself a house, a brick house in lower East Avenue, a house rather
like his tall, quiet wife, and run on English lines. He soon became the leading