Nobody ever wondered whether Francisco d’Anconia was good-looking or not; it seemed irrelevant; when he entered a room, it was impossible to look at anyone else. People explained him by saying that he had the vitality of a healthy animal, but they knew dimly that was not correct. He had the vitality of a healthy human being, a thing so rare that no one could identify it. He had the power of certainty.

“If you came here dressed like this in order not to let me notice how lovely you are,” he said, “you miscalculated. You’re lovely: I wish I could tell you what a relief it is to see a face that’s intelligent though a woman’s. But you don’t want to hear that. That’s not what you came here for.

. . .

“No? But haven’t I the right to be what is now accepted as human? Should I pay for everybody’s mistake and never be permitted one of my own?”

“That’s not like you.”

“No?” He stretched himself full-length on the carpet, lazily, relaxing. “Did you intend for me to notice that if you think I did it on purpose, then you still give me credit for having a purpose? You’re still unable to accept me as a bum?”

She closed her eyes. She heard him laughing; it was the gayest sound in the world. She opened her eyes hastily; but there was no hint of cruelty in his face, only pure laughter.

“My motive, Dagny? You don’t think that it’s the simplest one of all–the spur of the moment?”

No, she thought, no, that’s not true; not if he laughed like that, not if he looked as he did. The capacity for unclouded enjoyment, she thought, does not belong to irresponsible fools; an inviolate peace of spirit is not the achievement of a drifter; to be able to laugh like that is the end result of the most profound, most solemn thinking.

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