Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary
Eddie Willers meets his worker friend in the cafeteria. He talks about the state of the country and how laborers are walking off their jobs and roaming the countryside. Because quitting a job is illegal according to Directive 10-289, these laborers are labeled “deserters” and are imprisoned if caught. Since Dagny resigned her position as Vice-President of Operations, James Taggart has filled the post with his friend, Clifton Locey. Locey is bringing Taggart Transcontinental down because he refuses to make decisions to keep the railroad running safely. Eddie’s friend tells him that he will be going away for a while.
Rearden leaves his home. He tells his brother and mother that his secretary, Miss Ives, will make sure their bills are paid. He asks them to inform Lillian that he does not want to see her again. Despite the distance, Rearden walks to Philadelphia to see an attorney who will get him a divorce from Lillian without alimony or property settlements. As he is walking back, Rearden meets a stranger on a dark road. The stranger gives him a bar of gold and says it belongs to Reardon—it is part of the money the government has been stealing from him through income taxes. The stranger finally reveals himself to be Ragnar Danneskjold, the pirate. Ragnar explains that he does not take money from private or military ships but only those owned and operated by the government. He tells Rearden that there is a large bank account waiting for him whenever he needs it. Rearden is uncomfortable with this, but when a police car stops beside them and asks if they have a seen a strange man fitting Ragnar’s description, Rearden lies and says the man next to him is his new bodyguard.
A train carrying Kip Chalmers, a high-level politician, to a rally is stranded when the engine derails. Chalmers demands that a new engine be sent, but none of the railroad engineers want to take the chance of entering the eight-mile tunnel ahead with a coal-burning engine. Chalmers pressures the only engineer who has not quit to drive the train into the tunnel. The train is filled with passengers, each of whom holds a personal philosophy that supports the collective over the individual. As the train enters the tunnel, the coal fumes suffocate all the passengers; their last sight is the light of Wyatt’s still-burning oil fields.