Atlas Shrugged Volume 2, Chapter 7 Summary
The Moratorium on Brains
- Francisco strikes again – the title of this chapter is an upcoming line of his.
- Eddie and his Mystery Worker friend are chatting again. We learn that things have gotten much worse since the awful Directive passed.
- People are leaving their jobs en masse and wandering the country trying to survive. They are called deserters and are leaving on principle. The people staying at their jobs are often scumbags. Eddie can't believe what's happening.
- A man named Clifton Locey has taken over Dagny's job. No one in the media is admitting that she actually quit, but Eddie of course knows the truth.
- Locey is a "trained seal" (good one, Eddie!) – a total idiot. He's mismanaging everything.
- We learn that no one believes Hank signed over Rearden Metal willingly.
- Rumor has it that Ragnar is at it again: he's destroying any factory that tries to produce Rearden Metal.
- Eddie lets slip where Dagny is hiding out (no one was supposed to know but him) and says he's worried about her being on her own.
- We learn that Mystery Worker is about to take a one-month vacation, like he does every year. Eddie says he's lucky.
- Scene cut. Hank is walking home from his mills to his new apartment.
- Hank has left Lillian and is in the process of bribing a bunch of judges to get him a divorce.
- He hasn't called Dagny. He thinks she'll hate him if she ever finds out why he signed over his Metal (because he's trying to protect her).
- Hank is taking the time to think things through and pull himself together before he goes to Dagny. He wants to be worthy of her when he goes to tell her he loves her.
- Hank is then accosted by a man who gives him a bar of gold and says he wants to talk.
- Hank is confused.
- The man says he is paying Hank back what he's been robbed. He says he couldn't stay away after the Rearden Metal debacle and he had to talk to Hank.
- Hank is more confused.
- The man says they have a common friend who couldn't make it, so this guy came instead.
- He introduces himself: it's Ragnar Danneskjöld. Holy smokes, Batman!
- Hank drops his bar of gold. Is Ragnar also a leprechaun?
- Ragnar explains that in the world in which they are living, piracy can be a moral option. Ragnar has clearly watched Pirates of the Caribbean one too many times.
- Ragnar says he lives openly by force and refuses to comply with the looters' system.
- Hank thinks piracy is bad and nearly admits that quitting and disappearing like Ellis and Ken would be preferable.
- Ragnar then explains his quest: He is trying to combat the evil of the Robin Hood myth. (Huh?)
- OK, so Ragnar says that the Robin Hood myth has become a way for people to justify need as a ruling system. People now think they deserve what they haven't earned. It's charity run amuck. So Ragnar is taking away from the looters on behalf of his "clients," people like Hank who have been robbed and extorted over the years. Ragnar divides his booty up among his clients and even has bank accounts for them. Turns out there is an underground bank operating on the gold standard, and Hank has lots of gold stashed there. (Ragnar works for Gringotts?)
- The underground bank is called the Mulligan Bank. A clue!
- Hank is lost.
- Ragnar just can't stop confessing things. He tells Hank he's responsible for destroying Orren Boyle's factories and that he'll take out anyone else trying to manufacture Rearden Metal.
- Hank nearly laughs in glee.
- Just then a police car pulls up. They are looking for Ragnar!
- Hank lies and says he hasn't seen any Viking pirates lurking around with bars of gold, nope.
- This Nordic-looking guy? It's Hank's new bodyguard.
- Ragnar is amused and relieved that Hank covered for him.
- He tells Hank to keep his gold and then heads off to the high seas again.
- Scene cut! We're on the Taggart Comet, heading off to California.
- Kip Chalmers, a looter, is running for public office. He's set to give a speech in California, but the train is running late.
- He's in a car with his pals: Lester Tuck, his campaign manager; Laura Bradford, his mistress; and Gilbert Keith-Worthing, a snobby British intellectual.
- The train stops. There was a problem with the track that blew out the engine, leaving them stuck.
- Kip throws a massive hissy fit and threatens to bring the wrath of Washington down on them if they don't get the train moving pronto.
- So the conductor calls Colorado Division Superintendent Dave Mitchum. Dave panics, since he has no desire to make an enemy out of Washington.
- He calls around but learns that there are no spare engines available anywhere. He panics again.
- Bill Brent, the station dispatcher, says to chill out, there's nothing they can do now. They'll have to wait till morning for someone to come fix the problem.
- Bill tells this to Kip, who freaks some more.
- Kip sends a threatening telegram to James Taggart, telling him to get the Comet working now or else.
- James spazzes out. He calls trained seal Clifton Locey and tells him to fix it.
- Locey calls Mitchum and yells at him. Without coming right out and saying it, he encourages Mitchum to use whatever engine is available to get the train moving.
- See, there's an old coal-burning engine they can use, but it would be very dangerous to use it going through the Taggart Tunnel. No one wants to make Kip Chalmers wait, but no one wants to be liable for any ensuing disaster either. It's a no-win situation.
- Mitchum calls everyone he can think of in a panic, trying to avoid being responsible for carrying out Locey's vague order. Locey has arranged it so that Mitchum will be the fall guy.
- Mitchum sends out an order to get him the "best engine available."
- A nameless trainmaster, whose brother just killed himself, is totally jaded and sends the order through, even though he knows it's bad news.
- Mitchum then gets ready to run off to another station to "try to find a diesel engine." He wants to be far away in case disaster happens.
- Bill Brent says he won't carry out these orders and quits on the spot.
- Mitchum finds a young, impressionable guy to carry out his orders.
- An engineer on the train sees the order and refuses to drive the train. He quits and walks off.
- They find a drunk engineer named Joe Scott to drive the train.
- The coal-burning engine is hooked up and the train takes off.
- We get a rundown of passengers: they are all horrible looter people.
- The train reaches the tunnel and heads inside. We hear that the last thing any of the passengers saw was the flame of Wyatt's Torch burning in the distance.
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