Dagny wakes in her office around 9:30am, having worked into the early hours. She learns of Directive 10-289 via a call from Francisco and resigns. She tells Eddie that she'll be at the Taggert cabin in Woodstock, although he is not to tell anyone else.
Workers are quitting at Reardon Steel at a slow but steady pace, just disappearing. Dr. Ferris visits Hank without an appointment but Hank sees him. He wants Hank to sign a Gift Certificate giving away his rights to Reardon Steel. He blackmails Hank by threatening to expose Dagny as his mistress, to ruin her reputation. Hank signs.
Eddie Willers is in the cafeteria at Taggert Terminal talking to "the anonymous worker", telling him just about everything. He talks about Dagny quitting and even includes where she is (the Taggert cabin outside Woodstock). He also tells him about the orders to take the extra diesel engine from the mouth of the Taggert Tunnel for Chick Morrison's publicity tour.
He tells how Hank Reardon signed over his metal to the government, how Orren Boyle was going to start making it until his mill was blown up by Ragnar.
The anonymous worker mentions that he will be gone on vacation for a month.
Hank Reardon is walking home in the dark from his mills to his apartment in Philidelphia. Ragnar steps out from some bushes to give Hank a bar of gold. He explains that the gold is repayment for money taken from him by force.
Ragnar says he wants to kill off the idea of Robin Hood, that he himself is the opposite of Robin Hood. Ragnar takes from the (thieving) poor and gives to the (productive) rich.
He explains that he never attacks private ships. Nor does he attack military vessels because the military is a proper function of government. He attacks looter's ships filled with goods that were taken by force from productive men, or relief ships.
He explains that he sells the goods for gold, either to some American friends or to black marketeers in the People's States of Europe (who he considers forced into crime by their laws).
A cop car comes by, looking for Ragnar, the policemen recognize Hank. Instead of turning Ragnar in Hank protects him, telling the police that Ragnar is his bodyguard.
A Taggart train loses its diesel engine just short of the Taggart Tunnel in Colorado. Kip Chalmers is on board and demands that a replacement engine be found.
The spare diesel engine kept by the tunnel for exactly this situation has been ordered elsewhere by the government. The story leads us through the various Taggart personnel who don't want to make a decision. The only engine available is a coal burner. This is very risky because of the fumes and the length of the tunnel. But Kip Chalmers orders it so that he can make it to a big rally. Finally an engineer with a record of safety lapses who is also drunk agrees to drive it.
The men swapping the engines and switching the tracks know that they are creating a dangerous situation but do nothing to stop the train.
We are told about some of the people on the train, and why they are worthless. Lastly, the train goes into the tunnel and we know they are going to die.
Having quit her job, Dagny is staying at a cabin on a self imposed vacation, but she is having a hard time enjoying herself, she feels the urge to work. Francisco visits, telling her that he is destroying d'Anconia Copper to avoid giving it to the looters.
On the radio, Dagny hears of the Taggert Tunnel disaster, she immediately leaves for New York to deal with it.
At Taggert Transcontinental, Jim is contemplating his resignation over the tunnel disaster. He yells at Eddie to tell him where Dagny is, which Eddie refuses to do. Dagny shows up, and starts planning how to deal with the disaster. Wesley Mouch calls from Washington full of promises. Dagny calls Hank to let him know she is back. He tells her about the "Gift Certificate", signing over Reardon Metal to the government.
Dagny wakes in her apartment, feels for the first time that her work is pointless. Francisco visits, essentially admits that he is with "the destroyer". Hank shows up and is angry that Francisco is there and slaps him. Francisco leaves without fighting back. Dagny gets letter from Quentin Daniels that he will no longer work for her on the motor. He will keep working, but plans to keep any discoveries he might make to himself. Dagny arranges to take the Taggert Comet to see Daniels to convince him to continue.
Eddie Willers is at Dagny's apartment getting instructions while she packs. He sees a man's robe with the initials H.R. and realizes that she is having an affair with Hank. He feels jealous and realizes that he loves her.
Later he goes to the company cafeteria and meets the anonymous worker. Eddie tells him about Quentin, and about Hank. The worker excuses himself.
Dagny is on the Comet train heading out West. She meets a "bum" hiding in the vestibule of her car who used to be a skilled lathe operator. He once worked at the 20th Century Motor Company. He described the "new plan" put into place 12 years ago by the children of the company founder after his death. It was based on the idea of "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability". He was there at the company meeting when John Galt said, "I will stop the motor of the world". As their company started to fail, the bum and his coworkers started the phrase "Who is John Galt" to express hopelessness.
Dagny wakes to find that the train has stopped. She find that Owen Kellog is on the train. They walk up the tracks to find an emergency phone and she arranges for a new crew. She walks to a small nearby airport and buys a plane. She flies to Afton to see Quentin Daniels, to convince him to continue working on the motor for her. When she lands, the airport staff member tells her that Quentin Daniels just left in the plane that took off as she landed. She follows that plane, back to Colorado. She encounters a strange phenomenom that stalls her engine, and she goes down in a crash landing.