The government of Mexico is outraged to find that Francisco d'Anconia's San Sebastian Mines are worthless, containing no copper. Francisco is in New York, ostensibly to witness the spectacle of a divorce scandal in which he's supposedly involved. Dagny suspects that Francisco is visiting New York to observe the consequences of the San Sebastian fiasco. On her way to visit him in his hotel room, she thinks about the extraordinary individual he was in his youth. Francisco's genius and exalted view of life's possibilities made him Dagny's dearest companion and her only lover. She can't reconcile her memories with the dissolute playboy he now seems to be.
Francisco tells Dagny that the mine disaster resulted from his lack of effort; he put no thought into the project. Francisco is amused by the fact that his $15 million investment wiped out $40 million belonging to Taggart Transcontinental, $35 million belonging to stockholders like James Taggart and Orren Boyle, and hundreds of millions in such secondary consequences as James Taggart's destruction of the Phoenix-Durango. Dagny can't conceive a reason why any man, much less Francisco d'Anconia, would engage in such deliberate destruction.
This chapter adds to the mystery that Rand is building. How can a genius of Francisco's stature sink $15 million of his own money into a worthless project? How can a man who formerly worshipped production now enjoy the destruction of industrial enterprises? Dagny can't fathom the reasons. Many people in this book utter the phrase, "Who is John Galt?," but the question raised in this chapter is, "Who is Francisco d'Anconia?" What could induce such a giant to degenerate into a dissolute playboy and, far worse, an engine of destruction? At this point in the story, an answer to the question doesn't yet exist.