Ellis Wyatt was looking at the place around them with a kind of youthful pride eager for acknowledgement: it was the pride of a host at a formal reception in a drawing room, and the eagerness of an artist at the opening of his show in a gallery. She [Dagny] smiled and asked, pointing up at the machinery, "Shale oil?"
"That's the process which you were working to develop while you were on earth?" She said it involuntarily and she gasped a little at her own words.
He laughed. "While I was in hell -- yes. I'm on earth now."
"How much do you produce?"
"Two hundred barrels a day."
A note of sadness came back into her voice: "It's the process by which you once intended to fill five tank-trains a day."
"Dagny," he said earnestly, pointing at his tank, "one gallon of it is worth more than a trainful back there in hell -- because this is mine, all of it, every single drop of it, to be spent on nothing but myself." He raised his smudged hand, displaying the greasy stains as a treasure, and a black drop on the tip of his finger flashed like a gem in the sun. "Mine," he said. "Have you let them beat you into forgetting what that word means, what it feels like? You should give yourself a chance to relearn it."
"You're hidden in a hole in the wilderness," she said bleakly, "and you're producing two hundred barrels of oil, when you could have flooded the world with it."
"What for? To feed the looters?"
"No! To earn the fortune you deserve."
"But I'm richer now than I was in the world. What's wealth but the means of expanding one's life? There's two ways one can do it: either by producing more or by producing it faster. And that's what I'm doing: I'm manufacturing time."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm producing everything I need, I'm working to improve my methods, and every hour I save is an hour added to my life. It used to take me five hours to fill that tank. It now takes three. The two I saved are mine -- as pricelessly mine as if I moved my grave two further hours away for every five I've got. It's two hours released from one task, to be invested in another -- two more hours in which to work, to grow, to move forward. That's the savings account I'm hoarding. Is there any sort of safety vault that could protect this account in the outside world?"
"But what space do you have for moving forward? Where's your market?"
He chuckled. "Market? I now work for use, not for profit -- my use, not the looters' profit. Only those who add to my life, not those who devour it, are my market. Only those who produce, not those who consume, can ever be anybody's market. I deal with the life-givers, not with the cannibals. If my oil takes less effort to produce, I ask less of the men to whom I trade it for the things I need. I add an extra span of time to their lives with every gallon of my oil that they burn. And since they're men like me, they keep inventing faster ways to make the things they make -- so every one of them grants me an added minute, hour or day with the bread I buy from them, with the clothes, the lumber, the metal" -- he glanced at Galt -- "an added year with every month of electricity that I purchase. That's our market and that's how it works for us -- but that was not the way it worked in the outer world. Down what drain were they poured out there, our days, our lives and our energy? Into what bottomless, futureless sewer of the unpaid-for? Here, we trade achievements, not failures -- values, not needs. We're free of one another, yet we all grow together. Wealth, Dagny? What greater wealth is there than to own your life and to spend it on growing? Every living thing must grow. It can't stand still. It must grow or perish. Look --" He pointed at a plant fighting upward from under the weight of a rock -- a long, gnarled stem, contorted by an unnatural struggle, with drooping, yellow remnants of unformed leaves and a single green shoot thrust upward to the sun with the desperation of a last, spent, inadequate effort. "That's what they're doing to us back there in hell. Do you see me submitting to it?"
"No," she whispered.
"Do you see him submitting?" He pointed at Galt.
"Then don't be astonished by anything you see in this valley."