Terminal in New York; it was Owen Kellogg who ran the Terminal. She had watched his work for some time; she had always looked for sparks of competence, like a diamond prospector in an unpromising wasteland. Kellogg was still too young to be made superintendent of a division; she had wanted to give him another year, but there was no time to wait. She would have to speak to him as soon as she returned.
The strip of earth, faintly visible outside the window, was running faster now, blending into a gray stream. Through the dry phrases of calculations in her mind, she noticed that she did have time to feel something: it was the hard, exhilarating pleasure of action.
-k -k -k
With the first whistling rush of air, as the Comet plunged into the tunnels of the Taggart Terminal under the city of New York, Dagny Taggart sat up straight. She always felt it when the train went underground—this sense of eagerness, of hope and of secret excitement. It was as if normal existence were a photograph of shapeless things in badly printed colors, but this was a sketch done in a few sharp strokes that made things seem clean, important—and worth doing.
She watched the tunnels as they flowed past: bare walls of concrete, a net of pipes and wires, a web of rails that went off into black holes where green and red lights hung as distant drops of color. There was nothing else, nothing to dilute it, so that one could admire naked purpose and the ingenuity that had achieved it. She thought of the Taggart Building standing above her head at this moment, growing straight to the sky, and she thought: These are the roots of the building, hollow roots twisting under the ground, feeding the city.
When the train stopped, when she got off and heard the concrete of the platform under her heels, she felt light, lifted, impelled to action.
She started off, walking fast, as if the speed of her steps could give form to the things she felt. It was a few moments before she realized that she was whistling a piece of music—and that it was the theme of Halley's Fifth Concerto. She felt someone looking at her and turned. The young brakeman stood watching her tensely.
She sat on the arm of the big chair facing James Taggart's desk, her coat thrown open over a wrinkled traveling suit. Eddie Willers sat across the room, making notes once in a while. His title was that of Special Assistant to the Vice-President in Charge of Operation, and his main duty was to be her bodyguard against any waste of time. She asked him to be present at interviews of this nature, because then she never had to explain anything to him afterwards. James Taggart sat at his desk, his head drawn into his shoulders.
"The Rio Norte Line is a pile of junk from one end to the other," she said. "It's much worse than I thought. But we're going to save it." "Of course," said James Taggart.
"Some of the rail can be salvaged. Not much and not for long. We'll start laying new rail in the mountain sections, Colorado first. We'll get the new rail in two months."
"Oh, did Orren Boyle say he'll-"
"I've ordered the rail from Rearden Steel."
The slight, choked sound from Eddie Willers was his suppressed desire to cheer.
James Taggart did not answer at once. "Dagny, why don't you sit in the chair as one is supposed to?" he said at last; his voice was petulant. "Nobody holds business conferences this way." "I do."
She waited. He asked, his eyes avoiding hers, "Did you say that you have ordered the rail from Rearden?"
"Yesterday evening. I phoned him from Cleveland."
"But the Board hasn't authorized it. I haven't authorized it. You haven't consulted me."
She reached over, picked up the receiver of a telephone on his desk and handed it to him. "Call Rearden and cancel it," she said.
James Taggart moved back in his chair. "I haven't said that," he answered angrily. "I haven't said that at all." "Then it stands?" "I haven't said that, either."
She turned. "Eddie, have them draw up the contract with Rearden Steel. Jim will sign it." She took a crumpled piece of notepaper from her pocket and tossed it to Eddie. "There's the figures and terms."
Taggart said, "But the Board hasn't—"
"The Board hasn't anything to do with it. They authorized you to buy the rail thirteen months ago. Where you buy it is up to you."
"I don't think it's proper to make such a decision without giving the Board a chance to express an opinion. And I don't see why I should be made to take the responsibility."
"I amtaking it."
"What about the expenditure which—"
"Rearden is charging less than Orren Boyle's Associated Steel." "Yes, and what about Orren Boyle?"
"I've cancelled the contract. We had the right to cancel it six months ago. "
"When did you do that?" "Yesterday."
"But he hasn't called to have me confirm it." "He won't."
Taggart sat looking down at his desk. She wondered why he resented the necessity of dealing with Rearden, and why his resentment had such an odd, evasive quality. Rearden Steel had been the chief supplier of Taggart Transcontinental for ten years, ever since the first Rearden furnace was fired, in the days when their father was president of the railroad. For ten years, most of their rail had come from Rearden Steel. There were not many firms in the country who delivered what was ordered, when and as ordered. Rearden Steel was one of them.
If she were insane, thought Dagny, she would conclude that her brother hated to deal with Rearden because Rearden did his job with superlative efficiency; but she would not conclude it, because she thought that such a feeling was not within the humanly possible.
"It isn't fair," said James Taggart.
"That we always give all our business to Rearden. It seems to me we should give somebody else a chance, too. Rearden doesn't need us; he's plenty big enough. We ought to help the smaller fellows to develop. Otherwise, we're just encouraging a monopoly."
"Don't talk tripe, Jim,"
"Why do we always have to get things from Rearden?" "Because we always get them." "I don't like Henry Rearden."
"I do. But what does that matter, one way or the other? We need rails and he's the only one who can give them to us."
"The human element is very important. You have no sense of the human element at all."
"We're talking about saving a railroad, Jim."
"Yes, of course, of course, but still, you haven't any sense of the human element."
"No. I haven't."
"If we give Rearden such a large order for steel rails—" "They're not going to be steel. They're Rearden Metal."
She had always avoided personal reactions, but she was forced to break her rule when she saw
the expression on Taggart's face. She burst out laughing.
Rearden Metal was a new alloy, produced by Rearden after ten years of experiments. He had placed it on the market recently. He had received no orders and had found no customers.
Taggart could not understand the transition from the laughter to the sudden tone of Dagny's voice; the voice was cold and harsh: "Drop it, Jim. I know everything you're going to say. Nobody's ever used it before. Nobody approves of Rearden Metal. Nobody's interested in it. Nobody wants it. Still, our rails are going to be made of Rearden Metal."
"But ..." said Taggart, "but . . . but nobody's ever used it before!"
He observed, with satisfaction, that she was silenced by anger. He liked to observe emotions; they were like red lanterns strung along the dark unknown of another's personality, marking vulnerable points. But how one could feel a personal emotion about a metal alloy, and what such an emotion indicated, was incomprehensible to him; so he could make no use of his discovery.
"The consensus of the best metallurgical authorities," he said, "seems to be highly skeptical about Rearden Metal, contending—" "Drop it, Jim."
"Well, whose opinion did you take?" "I don't ask for opinions." "What do you go by?" "Judgment." "Well, whose judgment did you take?" "Mine."
"But whomdid you consult about it?" "Nobody."
"Then what on earth do you know about Rearden Metal?" "That it's the greatest thing ever put on the market." "Why?"
"Because it's tougher than steel, cheaper than steel and will outlast any hunk of metal in existence." "But who says so?"
"Jim, I studied engineering in college. When I see things, I see them." "What did you see?" "Rearden's formula and the tests he showed me."
"Well, if it were any good, somebody would have used it, and nobody has." He saw the flash of anger, and went on nervously: "How can you know it's good? How can you be sure? How can you decide?"
"Somebody decides such things, Jim. Who?"
"Well, I don't see why we have to be the first ones. I don't see it at all."
"Do you want to save the Rio Norte Line or not?" He did not answer, "If the road could afford it, I would scrap every piece of rail over the whole system and replace it with Rearden Metal. All of it needs replacing. None of it will last much longer. But we can't afford it. We have to get out of a bad hole, first. Do you want us to pull through or not?"
"We're still the best railroad in the country. The others are doing much worse."
"Then do you want us to remain in the hole?"
"I haven't said that! Why do you always oversimplify things that way? And if you're worried about money, I don't see why you want to waste it on the Rio Norte Line, when the Phoenix-Durango has robbed us of all our business down there. Why spend money when we have no protection against a competitor who'll destroy our investment?"
"Because the Phoenix-Durango is an excellent railroad, but I intend to make the Rio Norte Line better than that. Because I'm going to beat the Phoenix-Durango, if necessary—only it won't be necessary, because there will be room for two or three railroads to make fortunes in Colorado. Because I'd mortgage the system to build a branch to any district around Ellis Wyatt."
"I'm sick of hearing about Ellis Wyatt."
He did not like the way her eyes moved to look at him and remained still, looking, for a moment. "I don't see any need for immediate action," he said; he sounded offended. "Just what do you
consider so alarming in the present situation of Taggart Transcontinental?"
"The consequences of your policies, Jim."
"That thirteen months' experiment with Associated Steel, for one. Your Mexican catastrophe, for another."
"The Board approved the Associated Steel contract," he said hastily.
"The Board voted to build the San Sebastian Line. Besides, I don't see why you call it a catastrophe."
"Because the Mexican government is going to nationalize your line any day now. "
"That's a lie!" His voice was almost a scream. "That's nothing but vicious rumors! I have it on very good inside authority that—"
"Don't show that you're scared, Jim," she said contemptuously. He did not answer. "It's no use getting panicky about it now," she said. "All we can do is try to cushion the blow. It's going to be a bad blow. Forty million dollars is a loss from which we won't recover easily. But Taggart transcontinental has withstood many bad shocks in the past. I'll see to it that it withstands this one."
"I refuse to consider, I absolutely refuse to consider the possibility of the San Sebastian Line being nationalized!"
"All right. Don't consider it."
She remained silent. He said defensively, "I don't see why you're so eager to give a chance to Ellis Wyatt, yet you think it's wrong to take part in developing an underprivileged country that never had a chance."
"Ellis Wyatt is not asking anybody to give him a chance. And I'm not in business to give chances. I'm running a railroad."
"That's an extremely narrow view, it seems to me. I don't see why we should want to help one man instead of a whole nation."
"I'm not interested in. helping anybody. I want to make money."
"That's an impractical attitude. Selfish greed for profit is a thing of the past. It has been generally conceded that the interests of society as a whole must always be placed first in any business undertaking which—"
"How long do you intend to talk in order to evade the issue, Jim?"
"The order for Rearden Metal."
He did not answer. He sat studying her silently. Her slender body, about to slump from exhaustion, was held erect by the straight line of the shoulders, and the shoulders were held by a conscious effort of will. Few people liked her face: the face was too cold, the eyes too intense; nothing could ever lend her the charm of a soft focus. The beautiful legs, slanting down from the chair's arm in the center of his vision, annoyed him; they spoiled the rest of his estimate.
She remained silent; he was forced to ask, "Did you decide to order it just like that, on the spur of the moment, over a telephone?"
"I decided it six months ago. I was waiting for Hank Rearden to get ready to go into production." "Don't call him Hank Rearden. It's vulgar."
"That's what everybody calls him. Don't change the subject." "Why did you have to telephone him last night?" "Couldn't reach him sooner."
"Why didn't you wait until you got back to New York and—" "Because I had seen the Rio Norte Line."
"Well, I need time to consider it, to place the matter before the Board, to consult the best—" "There is no time."
"You haven't given me a chance to form an opinion."
"I don't give a damn about your opinion. I amnot going to argue with you, with your Board or with your professors. You have a choice to make and you're going to make it now. Just say yes or no." "That's a preposterous, high-handed, arbitrary way of—"
"Yes or no?"
"That's the trouble with you. You always make it 'Yes' or 'No.' Things are never absolute like that. Nothing is absolute."
"Metal rails are. Whether we get them or not, is." She waited. He did not answer. "Well?" she asked. "Are you taking the responsibility for it?" "I am."
"Go ahead," he said, and added, "but at your own risk. I won't cancel it, but I won't commit myself as to what I'll say to the Board." "Say anything you wish."
She rose to go. He leaned forward across the desk, reluctant to end the interview and to end it so decisively.
"You realize, of course, that a lengthy procedure will be necessary to put this through," he said; the words sounded almost hopeful. "It isn't as simple as that."
"Oh sure," she said. "I'll send you a detailed report, which Eddie will prepare and which you won't read. Eddie will help you put it through the works. I'm going to Philadelphia tonight to see Rearden. He and I have a lot of work to do." She added, "It's as simple as that, Jim."
She had turned to go, when he spoke again—and what he said seemed bewilderingly irrelevant. "That's all right for you, because you're lucky. Others can't do it."
"Other people are human. They're sensitive. They can't devote their whole life to metals and engines. You're lucky—you've never had any feelings. You've never felt anything at all."
As she looked at him, her dark gray eyes went slowly from astonishment to stillness, then to a strange expression that resembled a look of weariness, except that it seemed to reflect much more than the endurance of this one moment.
"No, Jim," she said quietly, "I guess I've never felt anything at all." Eddie Willers followed her to her office. Whenever she returned, he felt as if the world became clear, simple, easy to face—and he forgot his moments of shapeless apprehension. He was the only person who found it completely natural that she should be the Operating Vice-President of a great railroad, even though she was a woman. She had told him, when he was ten years old, that she would run the railroad some day. It did not astonish him now, just as it had not astonished him that day in a clearing of the woods.
When they entered her office, when he saw her sit down at the desk and glance at the memos he had left for her—he felt as he did in his car when the motor caught on and the wheels could move forward.
He was about to leave her office, when he remembered a matter he had not reported. "Owen Kellogg of the Terminal Division has asked me for an appointment to see you," he said.
She looked up, astonished. "That's funny. I was going to send for him. Have him come up. I want to see him. . . . Eddie," she added suddenly, "before I start, tell them to get me Ayers of the Ayers Music Publishing Company on the phone."
"The Music Publishing Company?" he repeated incredulously.
"Yes. There's something I want to ask him."
When the voice of Mr. Ayers, courteously eager, inquired of what service he could be to her, she
asked, "Can you tell me whether Richard Halley has written a new piano concerto, the Fifth?" "A fifth concerto, Miss Taggart? Why, no, of course he hasn't."
"Are you sure?"
"Quite sure, Miss Taggart. He has not written anything for eight years." "Is he still alive?"
"Why, yes—that is, I can't say for certain, he has dropped out of public life entirely—but I'm sure we would have heard of it if he had died." "If he wrote anything, would you know about it?"
"Of course. We would be the first to know. We publish all of his work. But he has stopped writing." "I see. Thank you."
When Owen Kellogg entered her office, she looked at him with satisfaction. She was glad to see that she had been right in her vague recollection of his appearance—his face had the same quality as that of the young brakeman on the train, the face of the kind of man with whomshe could deal.
"Sit down, Mr. Kellogg," she said, but he remained standing in front of her desk.
"You had asked me once to let you know if I ever decided to change my employment, Miss Taggart," he said. "So I came to tell you that I am quitting."
She had expected anything but that; it took her a moment before she asked quietly, "Why?" "For a personal reason." "Were you dissatisfied here?" "No. "
"Have you received a better offer?" "No. "
"What railroad are you going to?"
"I'm not going to any railroad, Miss Taggart."
"Then what job are you taking?"
"I have not decided that yet."
She studied him, feeling slightly uneasy. There was no hostility in his face; he looked straight at her, he answered simply, directly; he spoke like one who has nothing to hide, or to show; the face was polite and empty.
"Then why should you wish to quit?"
"It's a personal matter."
"Are you ill? Is it a question of your health?" "No. "
"Are you leaving the city?" "No. "
"Have you inherited money that permits you to retire?" "No. "
"Do you intend to continue working for a living?"
"But you do not wish to work for Taggart Transcontinental?" "No. "
"In that case, something must have happened here to cause your decision. What?"
"Nothing, Miss Taggart."
"I wish you'd tell me. I have a reason for wanting to know." "Would you take my word for it, Miss Taggart?" "Yes."
"No person, matter or event connected with my job here had any bearing upon my decision." "You have no specific complaint against Taggart Transcontinental?" "None."
"Then I think you might reconsider when you hear what I have to offer you. "
"I'm sorry, Miss Taggart. I can't." "May I tell you what I have in mind?" "Yes, if you wish." "Would you take my word for it that I decided to offer you the post I'm going to offer, before you asked to see me? I want you to know that." "I will always take your word, Miss Taggart."
"It's the post of Superintendent of the Ohio Division. It's yours, if you want it."
His face showed no reaction, as if the words had no more significance for him than for a savage who had never heard of railroads. "I don't want it, Miss Taggart," he answered.
After a moment, she said, her voice tight, "Write your own ticket, Kellogg. Name your price, I want you to stay. I can match anything any other railroad offers you."
"I amnot going to work for any other railroad."
"I thought you loved your work."
This was the first sign of emotion in him, just a slight widening of his eyes and an oddly quiet emphasis in his voice when he answered, "I do."
"Then tell me what it is that I should say in order to hold you!" It had been involuntary and so obviously frank that he looked at her as if it had reached him.
"Perhaps I am being unfair by coming here to tell you that I'm quitting, Miss Taggart. I know that you asked me to tell you because you wanted to have a chance to make me a counter-offer. So if I came, it looks as if I'm open to a deal. But I'm not. I came only because I ... I wanted to keep my word to you. "
That one break in his voice was like a sudden flash that told her how much her interest and her request had meant to him; and that his decision had not been an easy one to make.
"Kellogg, is there nothing I can offer you?" she asked.
"Nothing, Miss Taggart. Nothing on earth."
He turned to go. For the first time in her life, she felt helpless and beaten.
"Why?" she asked, not addressing him.
He stopped. He shrugged and smiled—he was alive for a moment and it was the strangest smile she had ever seen: it held secret amusement, and heartbreak, and an infinite bitterness. He answered: "Who is John Gait?"
CHAPTER II THE CHAIN
It began with a few lights. As a train of the Taggart line rolled toward Philadelphia, a few brilliant, scattered lights appeared in the darkness; they seemed purposeless in the empty plain, yet too powerful to have no purpose. The passengers watched them idly, without interest.
The black shape of a structure came next, barely visible against the sky, then a big building, close to the tracks; the building was dark, and the reflections of the train lights streaked across the solid glass of its walls.
An oncoming freight train hid the view, filling the windows with a rushing smear of noise. In a sudden break above the fiat cars, the passengers saw distant structures under a faint, reddish glow in the sky; the glow moved in irregular spasms, as if the structures were breathing.
When the freight train vanished, they saw angular buildings wrapped in coils of steam. The rays of a few strong lights cut straight sheafs through the coils. The steam was red as the sky.
The thing that came next did not look like a building, but like a shell of checkered glass enclosing girders, cranes and trusses in a solid, blinding, orange spread of flame.
The passengers could not grasp the complexity of what seemed to be a city stretched for miles, active without sign of human presence. They saw towers that looked like contorted skyscrapers, bridges hanging in mid-air, and sudden wounds spurting fire from out of solid walls. They saw a line of glowing cylinders moving through the night; the cylinders were red-hot metal.
An office building appeared, close to the tracks. The big neon sign on its roof lighted the interiors of the coaches as they went by. It said: REARDEN STEEL.
A passenger, who was a professor of economics, remarked to his companion: "Of what importance is an individual in the titanic collective achievements of our industrial age?" Another, who was a journalist, made a note for future use in his column: "Hank Rearden is the kind of man who sticks his name on everything he touches. You may, from this, form your own opinion about the
character of Hank Rearden."
The train was speeding on into the darkness when a red gasp shot to the sky from behind a long structure. The passengers paid no attention; one more heat of steel being poured was not an event they had been taught to notice.
It was the first heat for the first order of Rearden Metal.
To the men at the tap-hole of the furnace inside the mills, the first break of the liquid metal into the open came as a shocking sensation of morning. The narrow streak pouring through space had the pure white color of sunlight. Black coils of steam were boiling upward, streaked with violent red. Fountains of sparks shot in beating spasms, as from broken arteries. The air seemed torn to rags, reflecting a raging flame that was not there, red blotches whirling and running through space, as if not to be contained within a man-made structure, as if about to consume the columns, the girders, the bridges of cranes overhead. But the liquid metal had no aspect of violence. It was a long white curve with the texture of satin and the friendly radiance of a smile. It flowed obediently through a spout of clay, with two brittle borders to restrain it. It fell through twenty feet of space, down into a ladle that held two hundred tons. A flow of stars hung above the stream, leaping out of its placid smoothness, looking delicate as lace and innocent as children's sparklers.
Only at a closer glance could one notice that the white satin was boiling. Splashes flew out at times and fell to the ground below: they were metal and, cooling while hitting the soil, they burst into flame.
Two hundred tons of a metal which was to be harder than steel, running liquid at a temperature of four thousand degrees, had the power to annihilate every wall of the structure and every one of the men who worked by the stream. But every inch of its course, every pound of its pressure and the content of every molecule within it, were controlled and made by a conscious intention that had worked upon it for ten years.
Swinging through the darkness of the shed, the red glare kept stashing the face of a man who stood in a distant corner; he stood leaning against a column, watching. The glare cut a moment's wedge across his eyes, which had the color and quality of pale blue ice—then across the black web of the metal column and the ash-blond strands of his hair— then across the belt of his trenchcoat and the pockets where he held his hands. His body was tall and gaunt; he had always been too tall for those around him. His face was cut by prominent cheekbones and by a few sharp lines; they were not the lines of age, he had always had them: this had made him look old at twenty, and young now, at forty- five.
Ever since he could remember, he had been told that his face was ugly, because it was unyielding, and cruel, because it was expressionless. It remained expressionless now, as he looked at the metal. He was Hank Rearden.
The metal came rising to the top of the ladle and went running over with arrogant prodigality. Then the blinding white trickles turned to glowing brown, and in one more instant they were black icicles of metal, starting to crumble off. The slag was crusting in thick, brown ridges that looked like the crust of the earth. As the crust grew thicker, a few craters broke open, with the white liquid still boiling within.
Aman came riding through the air, in the cab of a crane overhead. He pulled a lever by the casual movement of one hand: steel hooks came down on a chain, seized the handles of the ladle, lifted it smoothly like a bucket of milk—and two hundred tons of metal went sailing through space toward a row of molds waiting to be filled.
Hank Rearden leaned back, closing his eyes. He felt the column trembling with the rumble of the
crane. The job was done, he thought.
A worker saw him and grinned in understanding, like a fellow accomplice in a great celebration, who knew why that tall, blond figure had to be present here tonight. Rearden smiled in answer: it was the only salute he had received. Then he started back for his office, once again a figure with an expressionless face.
It was late when Hank Rearden left his office that night to walk from his mills to his house. It was a walk of some miles through empty country, but he had felt like doing it, without conscious reason. He walked, keeping one hand in his pocket, his fingers closed about a bracelet. It was made of Rearden Metal, in the shape of a chain. His fingers moved, feeling its texture once in a while. It had taken ten years to make that bracelet. Ten years, he thought, is a long time. The road was dark, edged with trees. Looking up, he could see a few leaves against the stars; the leaves were twisted and dry, ready to fall.
There were distant lights in the windows of houses scattered through the countryside; but the lights made the road seem lonelier.
He never felt loneliness except when he was happy. He turned, once in a while, to look back at the red glow of the sky over the mills. He did not think of the ten years. What remained of them tonight was only a feeling which he could not name, except that it was quiet and solemn. The feeling was a sum, and he did not have to count again the parts that had gone to make it. But the parts, unrecalled, were there, within the feeling. They were the nights spent at scorching ovens in the research laboratory of the mills—the nights spent in the workshop of his home, over sheets of paper which he filled with formulas, then tore up in angry failure—the days when the young
scientists of the small staff he had chosen to assist him waited for instructions like soldiers ready for a hopeless battle, having exhausted their ingenuity, still willing, but silent, with the unspoken sentence hanging in the air: "Mr. Rearden, it can't be done—"—the meals, interrupted and abandoned at the sudden flash of a new thought, a thought to be pursued at once, to be tried, to be tested, to be worked on for months, and to be discarded as another failure—the moments snatched from conferences, from contracts, from theduties of running the best steel mills in the country, snatched almostguiltily, as for a secret love—the one thought held immovably across a span of ten years, undereverything he did and everything he saw, the thought held in his mindwhen he looked at the buildings of a city, at the track of a railroad, atthe light in the windows of a distant farmhouse, at the knife in the handsof a beautiful woman cutting a piece of fruit at a banquet, the thought ofa metal alloy that would do more than steel had ever done, a metal thatwould be to steel what steel had been to iron —the acts of self-racking when he discarded a hope or a sample,not permitting himself to know that he was tired, not giving himself timeto feel, driving himself through the wringing torture of: "not good enough . . . still not good enough . . ." and going on with no motor save the conviction that it could be done— —then the day when it was done and its result was called Rearden Metal— —these were the things that had come to white heat, had melted and fused within him, and their alloy was a strange, quiet feeling that made him smile at the countryside in the darkness and wonder why happiness could hurt.
After a while, he realized that he was thinking of his past, as if certain days of it were spread before him, demanding to be seen again. He did not want to look at them; he despised memories as a pointless indulgence. But then he understood that he thought of them tonight in honor of that piece of metal in his pocket. Then he permitted himself to look.
He saw the day when he stood on a rocky ledge and felt a thread of sweat running from his temple down his neck. He was fourteen years old and it was his first day of work in the iron mines of
Minnesota. He was trying to learn to breathe against the scalding pain in his chest. He stood, cursing himself, because he had made up his mind that he would not be tired. After a while, he went back to his task; he decided that pain was not a valid reason for stopping, He saw the day when he stood at the window of his office and looked at the mines; he owned them as of that morning. He was thirty years old. What had gone on in the years between did not matter, just as pain had not mattered. He had worked in mines, in foundries, in the steel mills of the north, moving toward the purpose he had chosen. All he remembered of those jobs was that the men around him had never seemed to know what to do, while he had always known. He remembered wondering why so many iron mines were closing, just as these had been about to close until he took them over. He looked at the shelves of rock in the distance. Workers were putting up a new sign above a gate at the end of a road: Rearden Ore. He saw an evening when he sat slumped across his desk in that office.
It was late and his staff had left; so he could lie there alone, unwitnessed. He was tired. It was as if he had run a race against his own body, and all the exhaustion of years, which he had refused to acknowledge, had caught him at once and flattened him against the desk top. He felt nothing, except the desire not to move. He did not have the strength to feel-not even to suffer. He had burned everything there was to burn within him; he had scattered so many sparks to start so many things— and he wondered whether someone could give him now the spark he needed, now when he felt unable ever to rise again. He asked himself who had started him and kept him going. Then he raised his head. Slowly, with the greatest effort of his life, he made his body rise until he was able to sit upright with only one hand pressed to the desk and a trembling arm to support him.
He never asked that question again. He saw the day when he stood on a hill and looked at a grimy wasteland of structures that had been a steel plant. It was closed and given up. He had bought it the night before. There was a strong wind and a gray light squeezed from among the clouds. In that light, he saw the brown-red of rust, like dead blood, on the steel of the giant cranes—and bright, green, living weeds, like gorged cannibals, growing over piles of broken glass at the foot of walls made of empty frames. At a gate in the distance, he saw the black silhouettes of men. They were the unemployed from the rotting hovels of what had once been a prosperous town.
They stood silently, looking at the glittering car he had left at the gate of the mills; they wondered whether the man on the hill was the Hank Rearden that people were talking about, and whether it was true that the mills were to be reopened. "The historical cycle of steel-making in Pennsylvania is obviously running down, " a newspaper had said, "and experts agree that Henry Rearden's venture into steel is hopeless. You may soon witness the sensational end of the sensational Henry Rearden." That was ten years ago. Tonight, the cold wind on his face felt like the wind of that day. He turned to look back. The red glow of the mills breathed in the sky, a sight as life-giving as a sunrise. These had been his stops, the stations which an express had reached and passed. He remembered nothing distinct of the years between them; the years were blurred, like a streak of speed.
Whatever it was, he thought, whatever the strain and the agony, they were worth it, because they had made him reach this day—this day when the first heat of the first order of Rearden Metal had been poured, to become rails for Taggart Transcontinental.
He touched the bracelet in his pocket. He had had it made from that first poured metal. It was for his wife. As he touched it, he realized suddenly that he had thought of an abstraction called "his wife"—not of the woman to whomhe was married.
He felt a stab of regret, wishing he had not made the bracelet, then a wave of self-reproach for the regret. He shook his head. This was not the time for his old doubts. He felt that he could forgive anything to anyone, because happiness was the greatest agent of purification. He felt certain that every
living being wished him well tonight. He wanted to meet someone, to face the first stranger, to stand disarmed and open, and to say, "Look at me." People, he thought, were as hungry for a sight of joy as he had always been—for a moment's relief from that gray load of suffering which seemed so inexplicable and unnecessary. He had never been able to understand why men should be unhappy.
The dark road had risen imperceptibly to the top of a hill. He stopped and turned. The red glow was a narrow strip, far to the west. Above it, small at a distance of miles, the words of a neon sign stood written on the blackness of the sky: REARDEN STEEL. He stood straight, as if before a bench of judgment. He thought that in the darkness of this night other signs were lighted over the country: Rearden Ore—Rearden Coal—Rearden Limestone. He thought of the days behind him. He wished it were possible to light a neon sign above them, saying: Rearden Life.
He turned sharply and walked on. As the road came closer to his house, he noticed that his steps were slowing down and that something was ebbing away from his mood. He felt a dim reluctance to enter his home, which he did not want to feel. No, he thought, not tonight; they'll understand it, tonight. But he did not know, he had never defined, what it was that he wanted them to understand.
He saw lights in the windows of the living room, when he approached his house. The house stood on a hill, rising before him like a big white bulk; it looked naked, with a few semi-colonial pillars for reluctant ornament; it had the cheerless look of a nudity not worth revealing.
He was not certain whether his wife noticed him when he entered the living room. She sat by the fireplace, talking, the curve of her arm floating in graceful emphasis of her words. He heard a small break in her voice, and thought that she had seen him, but she did not look up and her sentence went on smoothly; he could not be certain, "—but it's just that a man of culture is bored with the alleged wonders of purely material ingenuity," she was saying. "He simply refuses to get excited about plumbing."
Then she turned her head, looked at Rearden in the shadows across the long room, and her arms spread gracefully, like two swan necks by her sides.
"Why, darling," she said in a bright tone of amusement, "isn't it too early to come home? Wasn't there some slag to sweep or tuyeres to polish?"
They all turned to him—his mother, his brother Philip and Paul Larkin, their old friend.
"I'm sorry," he answered. "I know I'm late."
"Don't say you're sorry," said his mother. "You could have telephoned." He looked at her, trying vaguely to remember something. "You promised to be here for dinner tonight."
"Oh, that's right, I did. I'm sorry. But today at the mills, we poured—" He stopped; he did not know what made him unable to utter the one thing he had come home to say; he added only, "It's just that I . . . forgot."
"That's what Mother means," said Philip.
"Oh, let him get his bearings, he's not quite here yet, he's still at the mills," his wife said gaily. "Do take your coat off, Henry."
Paul Larkin was looking at him with the devoted eyes of an inhibited dog. "Hello, Paul," said Rearden. "When did you get in?"
"Oh, I just hopped down on the five thirty-five from New York." Larkin was smiling in gratitude for the attention.
"Who hasn't got trouble these days?" Larkin's smile became resigned, to indicate that the remark was merely philosophical. "But no, no special trouble this time. I just thought I'd drop in to see you." His wife laughed. "You've disappointed him, Paul." She turned to Rearden. "Is it an inferiority
complex or a superiority one, Henry? Do you believe that nobody can want to see you just for your own sake, or do you believe that nobody can get along without your help?"
He wanted to utter an angry denial, but she was smiling at him as if this were merely a conversational joke, and he had no capacity for the sort of conversations which were not supposed to be meant, so he did not answer. He stood looking at her, wondering about the things he had never been able to understand.
Lillian Rearden was generally regarded as a beautiful woman. She had a tall, graceful body, the kind that looked well in high-waisted gowns of the Empire style, which she made it a practice to wear. Her exquisite profile belonged to a cameo of the same period: its pure, proud lines and the lustrous, light brown waves of her hair, worn with classical simplicity, suggested an austere, imperial beauty. But when she turned full-face, people experienced a small shock of disappointment.
Her face was not beautiful. The eyes were the flaw: they were vaguely pale, neither quite gray nor brown, lifelessly empty of expression. Rearden had always wondered, since she seemed amused so often, why there was no gaiety in her face.
"We have met before, dear, " she said, in answer to his silent scrutiny, "though you don't seem to be sure of it."
"Have you had any dinner, Henry?" his mother asked; there was a reproachful impatience in her voice, as if his hunger were a personal insult to her.
"Yes ... No ... I wasn't hungry."
"I'd better ring to have them—"
"No, Mother, not now, it doesn't matter."
"That's the trouble I've always had with you." She was not looking at him, but reciting words into space. "It's no use trying to do things for you, you don't appreciate it. I could never make you eat properly."
"Henry, you work too hard," said Philip. "It's not good for you."
Rearden laughed. "I like it."
"That's what you tell yourself. It's a form of neurosis, you know. When a man drowns himself in work, it's because he's trying to escape from something. You ought to have a hobby."
"Oh, Phil, for Christ's sake!" he said, and regretted the irritation in his voice.
Philip had always been in precarious health, though doctors had found no specific defect in his loose, gangling body. He was thirty-eight, but his chronic weariness made people think at times that he was older than his brother.
"You ought to learn to have some fun," said Philip. "Otherwise, you'll become dull and narrow. Single-tracked, you know. You ought to get out of your little private shell and take a look at the world. You don't want to miss life, the way you're doing."
Fighting anger, Rearden told himself that this was Philip's form of solicitude. He told himself that it would be unjust to feel resentment: they were all trying to show their concern for him—and he wished these were not the things they had chosen for concern.
"I had a pretty good time today, Phil," he answered, smiling—and wondered why Philip did not ask him what it was.
He wished one of them would ask him. He was finding it hard to concentrate. The sight of the running metal was still burned into his mind, filling his consciousness, leaving no room for anything else.
"You might have apologized, only I ought to know better than to expect it." It was his mother's voice; he turned: she was looking at him with that injured look which proclaims the long-bearing
patience of the defenseless.
"Mrs. Beecham was here for dinner," she said reproachfully.
"Mrs. Beecham. Myfriend Mrs. Beecham." "Yes?"
"I told you about her, I told you many times, but you never remember anything I say. Mrs. Beecham was so anxious to meet you, but she had to leave after dinner, she couldn't wait, Mrs. Beecham is a very busy person. She wanted so much to tell you about the wonderful work we're doing in our parish school, and about the classes in metal craftsmanship, and about the beautiful wrought-iron doorknobs that the little slum children are making all by themselves."
It took the whole of his sense of consideration to force himself to answer evenly, "I'm sorry if I disappointed you, Mother."
"You're not sorry. You could've been here if you'd made the effort. But when did you ever make an effort for anybody but yourself? You're not interested in any of us or in anything we do. You think that if you pay the bills, that's enough, don't you? Money! That's all you know. And all you give us is money. Have you ever given us any time?"
If this meant that she missed him, he thought, then it meant affection, and if it meant affection, then he was unjust to experience a heavy, murky
feeling which kept him silent lest his voice betray that the feeling was disgust.
"You don't care," her voice went half-spitting, half-begging on. "Lillian needed you today for a very important problem, but I told her it was no use waiting to discuss it with you."
"Oh, Mother, it's not important!" said Lillian. "Not to Henry."
He turned to her. He stood in the middle of the room, with his trenchcoat still on, as if he were trapped in an unreality that would not become real to him.
"It's not important at all," said Lillian gaily; he could not tell whether her voice was apologetic or boastful. "It's not business. It's purely noncommercial . "
"What is it?"
"Just a party I'm planning to give." "A party?"
"Oh, don't look frightened, it's not for tomorrow night. I know that you're so very busy, but it's for three months from now and I want it to be a very big, very special affair, so would you promise me to be here that night and not in Minnesota or Colorado or California?"
She was looking at him in an odd manner, speaking too lightly and too purposefully at once, her smile overstressing an air of innocence and suggesting something like a hidden trump card.
"Three months from now?" he said. "But you know that I can't tell what urgent business might come up to call me out of town."
"Oh, I know! But couldn't I make a formal appointment with you, way in advance, just like any railroad executive, automobile manufacturer or junk—I mean, scrap—dealer? They say you never miss an appointment. Of course, I'd let you pick the date to suit your convenience." She was looking up at him, her glance acquiring some special quality of feminine appeal by being sent from under her lowered forehead up toward his full height; she asked, a little too casually and too cautiously, "The date I had in mind was December tenth, but would you prefer the ninth or the eleventh?"
"It makes no difference to me."
She said gently, "December tenth is our wedding anniversary, Henry."
They were all watching his face; if they expected a look of guilt, what they saw, instead, was a faint smile of amusement. She could not have intended this as a trap, he thought, because he could escape it so easily, by refusing to accept any blame for his forgetfulness and by leaving her spurned;
she knew that his feeling for her was her only weapon. Her motive, he thought, was a proudly indirect attempt to test his feeling and to confess her own. Aparty was not his form of celebration, but it was hers. It meant nothing in his terms; in hers, it meant the best tribute she could offer to him and to their marriage. He had to respect her intention, he thought, even if he did not share her standards, even if he did not know whether he still cared for any tribute from her. He had to let her win, he thought, because she had thrown herself upon his mercy. He smiled, an open, unresentful smile in acknowledgment of her victory. "All right, Lillian," he said quietly, "I promise to be here on the night of December tenth."
"Thank you, dear." Her smile had a closed, mysterious quality; he wondered why he had a moment's impression that his attitude had disappointed them all.
If she trusted him, he thought, if her feeling for him was still alive, then he would match her trust. He had to say it; words were a lens to focus one's mind, and he could not use words for anything else tonight. "I'm sorry I'm late, Lillian, but today at the mills we poured the first heat of Rearden Metal." There was a moment of silence. Then Philip said, "Well, that's nice." The others said nothing.
He put his hand in his pocket. When he touched it, the reality of the bracelet swept out everything else; he felt as he had felt when the liquid metal had poured through space before him.
"I brought you a present, Lillian."
He did not know that he stood straight and that the gesture of his arm was that of a returning crusader offering his trophy to his love, when he dropped a small chain of metal into her lap.
Lillian Rearden picked it up, hooked on the tips of two straight fingers, and raised it to the light. The links were heavy, crudely made, the shining metal had an odd tinge, it was greenish-blue.
"What's that?" she asked.
"The first thing made from the first heat of the first order of Rearden Metal." "You mean," she said, "it's fully as valuable as a piece of railroad rails?" He looked at her blankly.
She jingled the bracelet, making it sparkle under the light. "Henry, it's perfectly wonderful! What originality! I shall be the sensation of New York, wearing jewelry made of the same stuff as bridge girders, truck motors, kitchen stoves, typewriters, and—what was it you were saying about it the other day, darling?—soup kettles?"
"God, Henry, but you're conceited!" said Philip.
Lillian laughed. "He's a sentimentalist. All men are. But, darling, I do appreciate it. It isn't the gift, it's the intention, I know."
"The intention's plain selfishness, if you ask me," said Rearden's mother. "Another man would bring a diamond bracelet, if he wanted to give his wife a present, because it's' her pleasure he'd think of, not his own. But Henry thinks that just because he's made a new kind of tin, why, it's got to be more precious than diamonds to everybody, just because it's he that's made it. That's the way he's been since he was five years old—the most conceited brat you ever saw—and I knew he'd grow up to be the most selfish creature on God's earth."
"No, it's sweet," said Lillian. "It's charming." She dropped the bracelet down on the table. She got up, put her hands on Rearden's shoulders, and raising herself on tiptoe, kissed him on the cheek, saying, "Thank you, dear."
He did not move, did not bend his head down to her. After a while, he turned, took off his coat and sat down by the fire, apart from the others. He felt nothing but an immense exhaustion.
He did not listen to their talk. He heard dimly that Lillian was arguing, defending him against his mother.
"I know him better than you do," his mother was saying. "Hank Rearden's not interested in man, beast or weed unless it's tied in some way to himself and his work. That's all he cares about. I've tried my best to teach him some humility, I've tried all my life, but I've failed."
He had offered his mother unlimited means to live as and where she pleased; he wondered why she had insisted that she wanted to live with him. His success, he had thought, meant something to her, and if it did, then it was a bond between them, the only kind of bond he recognized; if she wanted a place in the home of her successful son, he would not deny it to her.
"It's no use hoping to make a saint out of Henry, Mother," said Philip. "He wasn't meant to be one."
"Oh but, Philip, you're wrong!" said Lillian. "You're so wrong! Henry has all the makings of a saint. That's the trouble." What did they seek from him?—thought Rearden—what were they after? He had never asked anything of them; it was they who wished to hold him, they who pressed a claim on him—and the claim seemed to have the form of affection, but it was a form which he
found harder to endure than any sort of hatred. He despised causeless affection, just as he despised unearned wealth. They professed to love him for some unknown reason and they ignored all the things for which he could wish to be loved. He wondered what response they could hope to obtain from him in such manner—if his response was what they wanted.
And it was, he thought; else why those constant complaints, those unceasing accusations about his indifference? Why that chronic air of suspicion, as if they were waiting to be hurt? He had never had a desire to hurt them, but he had always felt their defensive, reproachful expectation; they seemed wounded by anything he said, it was not a matter of his words or actions, it was almost . . . almost as if they were Wounded by the mere fact of his being. Don't start imagining the insane —he told himself severely, struggling to face the riddle with the strictest of his ruthless sense of justice. He could not condemn them without understanding; and he could not understand.
Did he like them? No, he thought; he had wanted to like them, which was not the same. He had wanted it in the name of some unstated potentiality which he had once expected to see in any human being. He felt nothing for them now, nothing but the merciless zero of indifference, not even the regret of a loss. Did he need any person as part of his life? Did he miss the feeling he had wanted to feel? No, he thought. Had he ever missed it? Yes, he thought, in his youth; not any longer.
His sense of exhaustion was growing; he realized that it was boredom.
He owed them the courtesy of hiding it, he thought—and sat motionless, fighting a desire for sleep that was turning into physical pain.
His eyes were closing, when he felt two soft, moist fingers touching his hand: Paul Larkin had pulled a chair to his side and was leaning over for a private conversation.
"I don't care what the industry says about it, Hank, you've got a great product in Rearden Metal, a great product, it will make a fortune, like everything you touch."
"Yes," said Rearden, "it will."
"I just ... I just hope you don't run into trouble." "What trouble?"
"Oh, I don't know . . . the way things are nowadays . . . there's people, who . . . but how can we tell? . . . anything can happen. . . ." "What trouble?"
Larkin sat hunched, looking up with his gentle, pleading eyes. His short, plumpish figure always seemed unprotected and incomplete, as if he needed a shell to shrink into at the slightest touch. His wistful eyes, his lost, helpless, appealing smile served as substitute for the shell. The smile was disarming, like that of a boy who throws himself at the mercy of an incomprehensible universe. He was fifty-three years old.
"Your public relations aren't any too good, Hank," he said. "You've always had a bad press." "So what?"
"You're not popular, Hank."
"I haven't heard any complaints from my customers."
"That's not what I mean. You ought to hire yourself a good press agent to sell you to the public," "What for? It's steel that I'm selling."
"But you don't want to have the public against you. Public opinion, you know—it can mean a lot." "I don't think the public's against me. And I don't think that it means a damn, one way or another," "The newspapers are against you."
"They have time to waste. I haven't."
"I don't like it, Hank. It's not good." "What?"
"What they write about you." "What do they write about me?"
"Well, you know the stuff. That you're intractable. That you're ruthless. That you won't allow anyone any voice in the running of your mills. That your only goal is to make steel and to make money." "But that is my only goal." "But you shouldn't say it." "Why not? What is it I'm supposed to say?" "Oh, I don't know . . . But your mills—" "They're my mills, aren't they?"
"Yes, but—but you shouldn't remind people of that too loudly. . . . You know how it is nowadays. . . . They think that your attitude is antisocial . "
"I don't give a damn what they think," Paul Larkin sighed.
"What's the matter, Paul? What are you driving at?"
"Nothing . . . nothing in particular. Only one never knows what can happen in times like these. . . . One has to be so careful . . ."
Rearden chuckled. "You're not trying to worry about me, are you?"
"It's just that I'm your friend, Hank. I'm your friend. You know how much I admire you."
Paul Larkin had always been unlucky. Nothing he touched ever came off quite well, nothing ever quite failed or succeeded. He was a businessman, but he could not manage to remain for long in any one line of business. At the moment, he was struggling with a modest plant that manufactured mining equipment.
He had clung to Rearden for years, in awed admiration. He came for advice, he asked for loans at times, but not often; the loans were modest and were always repaid, though not always on time. His motive in the relationship seemed to resemble the need of an anemic person who receives a kind of living transfusion from the mere sight of a savagely overabundant vitality.
Watching Larkin's efforts, Rearden felt what he did when he watched an ant struggling under the load of a matchstick. It's so hard for him, thought Rearden, and so easy for me. So he gave advice, attention and a tactful, patient interest, whenever he could.
"I'm your friend, Hank."
Rearden looked at him inquiringly.
Larkin glanced away, as if debating something in his mind. After a while, he asked cautiously, "How is your man in Washington?" "Okay, I guess."
"You ought to be sure of it. It's important." He looked up at Rearden, and repeated with a kind of stressed insistence, as if discharging a painful moral duty, "Hank, it's very important."
"I suppose so."
"In fact, that's what I came here to tell you." "For any special reason?"
Larkin considered it and decided that the duty was discharged. "No," he said.
Rearden disliked the subject. He knew that it was necessary to have a man to protect him from the
legislature; all industrialists had to employ such men. But he had never given much attention to this aspect of his business; he could not quite convince himself that it was necessary.
An inexplicable kind of distaste, part fastidiousness, part boredom, stopped him whenever he tried to consider it.
"Trouble is, Paul, " he said, thinking aloud, "that the men one has to pick for that job are such a crummy lot,"
Larkin looked away. "That's life," he said.
"Damned if I see why. Can you tell me that? What's wrong with the world?"
Larkin shrugged sadly. "Why ask useless questions? How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky? Who is John Gait?"
Rearden sat up straight. "No," he said sharply. "No. There's no reason to feel that way."
He got up. His exhaustion had gone while he talked about his business. He felt a sudden spurt of rebellion, a need to recapture and defiantly to reassert his own view of existence, that sense of it which he had held while walking home tonight and which now seemed threatened in some nameless manner.
He paced the room, his energy returning. He looked at his family.
They were bewildered, unhappy children—he thought—all of them, even his mother, and he was foolish to resent their ineptitude; it came from their helplessness, not from malice. It was he who had to make himself learn to understand them, since he had so much to give, since they could never share his sense of joyous, boundless power.
He glanced at them from across the room. His mother and Philip were engaged in some eager discussion; but he noted that they were not really eager, they were nervous. Philip sat in a low chair, his stomach forward, his weight on his shoulder blades, as if the miserable discomfort of his position were intended to punish the onlookers.
"What's the matter, Phil?" Rearden asked, approaching him. "You look done in. "
"I've had a hard day," said Philip sullenly.
"You're not the only one who works hard," said his mother. "Others have problems, too—even if they're not billion-dollar, trans-super-continental problems like yours."
"Why, that's good. I always thought that Phil should find some interest of his own."
"Good? You mean you like to see your brother sweating his health away? It amuses you, doesn't it? I always thought it did." "Why, no, Mother. I'd like to help."
"You don't have to help. You don't have to feel anything for any of us."
Rearden had never known what his brother was doing or wished to do. He had sent Philip through college, but Philip had not been able to decide on any specific ambition. There was something wrong, by Rearden's standards, with a man who did not seek any gainful employment, but he would not impose his standards on Philip; he could afford to support his brother and never notice the expense. Let him take it easy, Rearden had thought for years, let him have a chance to choose his career without the strain of struggling for a livelihood.
"What were you doing today, Phil?" he asked patiently. "It wouldn't interest you."
"It does interest me. That's why I'm asking."
"I had to see twenty different people all over the place, from here to Redding to Wilmington." "What did you have to see them about?"
"I amtrying to raise money for Friends of Global Progress."
Rearden had never been able to keep track of the many organizations to which Philip belonged, nor to get a clear idea of their activities. He had heard Philip talking vaguely about this one for the
last six months.
It seemed to be devoted to some sort of free lectures on psychology, folk music and co-operative farming. Rearden felt contempt for groups of that kind and saw no reason for a closer inquiry into their nature.
He remained silent. Philip added without being prompted, "We need ten thousand dollars for a vital program, but it's a martyr's task, trying to raise money. There's not a speck of social conscience left in people.
When I think of the kind of bloated money-bags I saw today—why, they spend more than that on any whim, but I couldn't squeeze just a hundred bucks a piece out of them, which was all I asked. They have no sense of moral duty, no . . . What are you laughing at?" he asked sharply. Rearden stood before him, grinning.
It was so childishly blatant, thought Rearden, so helplessly crude: the hint and the insult, offered together. It would be so easy to squash Philip by returning the insult, he thought—by returning an insult which would be deadly because it would be true—that he could not bring himself to utter it. Surely, he thought, the poor fool knows he's at my mercy, knows he's opened himself to be hurt, so I don't have to do it, and my not doing it is my best answer, which he won't be able to miss.
What sort of misery does he really live in, to get himself twisted quite so badly?
And then Rearden thought suddenly that he could break through Philip's chronic wretchedness for once, give him a shock of pleasure, the unexpected gratification of a hopeless desire. He thought: What do I care about the nature of his desire?—it's his, just as Rearden Metal was mine—it must mean to him what that meant to me—let's see him happy just once, it might teach him something— didn't I say that happiness is the agent of purification?—I'm celebrating tonight, so let him share in it —it will be so much for him, and so little for me.
"Philip," he said, smiling, "call Miss Ives at my office tomorrow.
She'll have a check for you for ten thousand dollars."
Philip stared at him blankly; it was neither shock nor pleasure; it was just the empty stare of eyes that looked glassy.
"Oh," said Philip, then added, "We'll appreciate it very much."
There was no emotion in his voice, not even the simple one of greed.
Rearden could not understand his own feeling: it was as if something leaden and empty were collapsing within him, he felt both the weight and the emptiness, together. He knew it was disappointment, but he wondered why it was so gray and ugly.
"It's very nice of you, Henry," Philip said dryly. "I'm surprised. I didn't expect it of you."
"Don't you understand it, Phil?" said Lillian, her voice peculiarly clear and lilting. "Henry's poured his metal today." She turned to Rearden. "Shall we declare it a national holiday, darling?" "You're a good man, Henry," said his mother, and added, "but not often enough."
Rearden stood looking at Philip, as if waiting.
Philip looked away, then raised his eyes and held Rearden's glance, as if engaged in a scrutiny of his own.
"You don't really care about helping the underprivileged, do you?"
Philip asked—and Rearden heard, unable to believe it, that the tone of his voice was reproachful. "No, Phil, I don't care about it at all. I only wanted you to be happy."
"But that money is not for me. I am not collecting it for any personal motive. I have no selfish interest in the matter whatever." His voice was cold, with a note of self-conscious virtue.
Rearden turned away. He felt a sudden loathing: not because the words were hypocrisy, but
because they were true; Philip meant them.
"By the way, Henry," Philip added, "do you mind if I ask you to have Miss Ives give me the money in cash?" Rearden turned back to him, puzzled. "You see, Friends of Global Progress are a very progressive group and they have
always maintained that you represent the blackest element of social retrogression ha the country, so it would embarrass us, you know, to have your name on our list of contributors, because somebody might accuse us of being in the pay of Hank Rearden."
He wanted to slap Philip's face. But an almost unendurable contempt made him close his eyes, instead.
"All right," he said quietly, "you can have it in cash."
He walked away, to the farthest window of the room, and stood looking at the glow of the mills in the distance.
He heard Larkin's voice crying after him, "Damn it, Hank, you shouldn't have given it to him!" Then Lillian's voice came, cold and gay: "But you're wrong, Paul, you're so wrong! What would happen to Henry's vanity if he didn't have us to throw alms to? What would become of his strength if he didn't have weaker people to dominate? What would he do with himself if he didn't keep us around as dependents? It's quite all right, really, I'm not criticizing him, it's just a law of human nature."
She took the metal bracelet and held it up, letting it glitter in the lamplight.
"A chain," she said. "Appropriate, isn't it? It's the chain by which he holds us all in bondage." CHAPTER III THE TOP AND THE BOTTOM
The ceiling was that of a cellar, so heavy and low that people stooped when crossing the room, as if the weight of the vaulting rested on their shoulders. The circular booths of dark red leather were built into walls of stone that looked eaten