"The women I chased -- you didn't believe that, did you? I've never touched one of them -- but I think you knew it, I think you've known it all along. The playboy -- it was a part that I had to play in order not to let the looter's suspect me while I was destroying d'Anconia Copper in plain sight of the whole world. That's the joker in their system, they're out to fight any man of honor and ambition, but let them see a worthless rotter and they think he's a friend, they think he's safe -- safe! -- that's their view of life, but they are learning! -- are they learning whether evil is safe and incompetence practical?
"Dagny, it was the night when I knew, for the first time, that I loved you -- it was then that I knew I had to go. It was when you enterd my hotel room, that night, when I saw what you looked like, what you were, what you meant to me -- and what awaited you in the future. Had you been less, you might have stopped me for a while. But it was you, you who were the final argument that made me leave you. I asked for your help, that night -- against John Galt. But I knew that you were his best weapon against me, though neither you nor he could know it.
"You were everything that he was seeking, everything he told us to live for or die, if necessary... I was ready for him, when he called me suddenly to come to New York, that spring. I had not heard from him for some time. He was fighting the same problem I was. He solved it.
"Do you remember? It was the time when you did not hear from me for three years. Dagny, when I took over my father's business, when I began to deal with the whole industrial system of the world, it was then that I began to see the nature of the evil I had suspected, but thought too monstrous to believe. I saw the tax-collecting vermin that had grown for centuries like mildew on d'Anconia Copper, draining us by no right that anyone could name -- I saw the government regulations passed to cripple me, because I was successful, and to help my competitors, because they were loafing failures -- I saw the labor unions who won every claim against me, by reason of my ability to make their livelihood possible -- I saw that any man's desire for money he could not earn was regarded as a righteous wish, but if he earned it, it was damned as greed -- I saw the politicians who winked at me, telling me not to worry because I could just work a little harder and outsmart them all. I looked past the profits of the moment, and I saw that the harder I worked, the more I tightened the noose around my throat, I saw that my energy was being poured down a sewer, that the parasites who fed on me were being fed upon in their turn, that they were caught in their own trap -- and that there was no reason for it, no answer known to anyone, that the sewer pipes of the world, draining its productive blood, led into some dank fog nobody had dared to pierce, while people merely shrugged and said that life on earth could be nothing but evil. And then I saw that the whole industrial establishment of the word, with all of its magnificent machinery, its thousand-ton furnaces, its transatlantic cables, its mahogany offices, its stock exchanges, its blazing electric signs, its power, its wealth -- all of it was run, not by bankers and boards of directors, but by any unshaved humanitarian in any basement beer joint, by any face pudgy with malice, who preached that virtue must me penalized for being virtue, that the purpose of ability is to serve incompetence, that man has no right to exist except for the sake of others...I knew it.
"I saw no way to fight it. John found the way. There were just the two of us with him, the night when we came to New York in answer to his call, Ragnar and I. He told us what we had to do and what sort of men we had to reach. He had quit the Twentieth Century. He was living in a garret in a slum neighborhood. He stepped to the window and pointed at the skyscrapers of the city. He said that we had to extinguish the lights of the world, and when we would see the lights of New York go out, we would know that our job was done. He did not ask us to join him at once. He told us to think it over and to weigh everything it would do to our lives. I gave him my answer on the morning of the second day, and Ragnar a few hours later, in the afternoon...
"Dagny, that was the morning after our last night together. I had seen, in a manner of vision that I couldn't escape, what it was that I had to fight for. It was for the way you looked that night, for the way you talked about your railroad -- for the way you had looked when we tried to see the skyline of New York from the top of a rock over the Hudson -- I had to save you, to clear the way for you, to let you find your city -- not to let you stumble the years of your life away, struggling on through a poisoned fog, with your eyes still held straight ahead, still looking as they had looked in the sunlight, struggling on to find, at the end of your road, not the towers of a city, but a fat, soggy, mindless cripple performing his enjoyment of life by means of swallowing the gin your life had gone to pay for! You -- to know no joy in order that he may know it? You -- as the means for the subhuman as the end? Dagny, that was what I saw and that was what I couldn't let them do to you! Not to you, not to any child who had your kind of look when he faced the future, not to any man who had your spirit and was able to experience a moment of being proudly, guiltlessly, confidently, joyously alive. That was my love, that state of the human spirit, and I left you to fight for it, and I knew that if I were to lose you, it was still you that I would be winning with every year of the battle. But you see it now, don't you? You've seen this valley. It's the place we set out to reach when we were children, you and I. We've reached it. What else can I ask for now? Just to see you here -- did John say that you're still a scab? -- oh well, it's only a matter of time, but you'll be one of us, because you've always been, if you don't see it fully, we'll wait, I don't care -- so long as you're alive, so long as I don't have to go on flying over the Rockies, looking for the wreckage of your plane!"