Prince Myshkin steps forward to sponsor Ayn’s entry to Paradise.
Angels, in a general murmur: “Yes, why? Why indeed?”
Prince Myshkin, a voice from behind, simply, clearly: “An act of charity.”
Ayn, offended, sarcastically: “When people are unanimous, how does one man dare to dissent!”
Elder Angel, authoritative, demanding: “Who speaks!?”
Another Angel, in happy surprise: “It is Myshkin!”
Another Angel, in astonishment, deference: “…Prince Myshkin?”
Prince Myshkin, pushing forward, states simply, clearly, decisively: “An onion.”
Lebedev: “Most Honorable Prince, it seems doubtful…” trails off.
Ayn, indignant: “Guilt is a rope that wears thin!”
Prince Myshkin, humbly yet unequivocally: “Yes, you are credited with an act of altruism. The gift of an onion to a beggar woman.”
Ayn, indignant: “Idiot! I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and sanction!”
Prince Myshkin, not at all offended: “Nonetheless, once, an onion.”
Ayn, loosing control: “What I am fighting is the idea that charity is no moral duty, no primary virtue!”
Lebedev: with certainty that the Prince must be mistaken: “Most Esteemed Prince, how can it be…” trails off.
Prince Myshkin: simply, humbly: “I’m afraid it’s indisputable. An onion, once, given to a beggar, as a child.”
Ayn, regaining control: “I don’t engage in charity…” glancing hard at the Prince “… and I don’t gamble on incompetents.”
An Angel: “…Gamble?”
Another Angel: “…Incompetents?”
Prince Myshkin, calmly: “Inscribed in the book of life. An onion, a gift freely given.”
Ayn, defiant: “I never asked for faith, hope and charity, but always preferred facts, proof and profits!”
An Angel, eyebrows raised: “…Proof?”
Another Angel, surprised: “…Profits?”
The Angels murmur.
An Elder Angel, steps forward: “This is all highly irregular, although the Prince is correct in asserting that a singular act of charity is sometimes sufficient grounds for entry, under sponsorship, provided it was given freely, in the spirit of charity.”
Ayn: “It was not out of pity or charity or any ugly reason like that!”
An Angel, eyebrows raised: “…Pity?”
Another Angel, surprised: “…Charity?”
Lebedev, astounded: “Most Revered Prince… she is humiliated at a piece of charity!”
The Host of Angels, turning to Prince Myshkin: “Well, how is it? Pity, Charity… or Spite?”
Prince Myshkin: “Let us consult the book of life, and each shall decide from himself…”
A You Tube video appears above. It is old Russia, mud, smoking burned-out hovels of homes, a destitute begging woman with a babe in arms reaches a pleading hand to a passing wagon. Young Ayn, a child, riding in the back of the wagon, sneaks an onion from the family stores and places it in the fugitive hand. The child Rand smiles in blessed contentment. Clearly an act of charity.
Ayn, in a fury: “This is outrageous! You have just put me to a test in order to learn whether I’d once fallen to the lowest possible stage of altruism!”
Lebedev, indignant: “What foolishness, most well-bred Prince! … that the theory that individual charity is useless!”
The Angels murmur.
An Angel, looking on the scene disapprovingly: “An outrage!”
An Elder Angel, decidedly: “For this, she must be punished!” The Host of on-looking Angels, in agreement: “Here, Here!”
Elder Angel: “Precedent is on the side of our brother, Prince Myshkin, an act of altruism cannot be erased from the book of life, for if the gift of a turnip or onion is discounted as insignificant, where shall the account begin?”
Rand is exasperated. Angels murmur in contention.
Elder Angel: “However, our young sister will do well to walk off her arrogance.”
Ayn, defiant: “It is not a question of who is going to let me, but who is going to stop me!”
Elder Angel: “No one will stop you. You’ll find a service entrance just down the way; you may enter there…”
Ayn: “Service entrance?”
Elder Angel: “…a quadrillion kilometers down that road.”
The Angels gasp.
Ayn: “This evil is made possible by nothing but the sanction we give it!” falls to the ground in protest.
A hundred years pass. Rand still lies across the road, refusing to start. It is cold, she is sitting on a pile of wooden crates, muttering cursing. A passing angel sees she is shivering.
Passing Angel: “Well, if you aren’t going to walk, at least you should try to get warm…”
Ayn, defiant: “How the hell am I going to do that?”
Passing Angel: “I don’t know, maybe you could build a fire…”
Ayn: “With what?”
The passing angel reaches out and catches an axe flying by.
Passing Angel: “Here, maybe you could use this…”
Ayn, surprised: “What is an axe doing here?” spreads her arms to indicate the celestial expanse.
The passing angel just shrugs as if to say, ‘who’s to know?’ Ayn takes the axe.
A thousand years pass, Rand is still obstinate. A passing angel stops to offer her a drink of water from a canteen.
Passing Angel: “Aren’t you going to get started? It’s going to take awhile… I don’t have a pencil and paper to work it out… more than a billion years, I should think…”
Ayn, defiant: “And where am I going to get a billion years?”
Passing Angel, with pride and reverence: “You’ll be surprised how time flies by here. And there’s so much to do! Why, the inventor of the great motor of the universe, don’t you want to meet him?”
Ayn, with sudden excitement: “John!”
Passing Angel, perplexed: “John?”
Ayn, lit up by a realization, mutters: “I must find the inventor of that motor!”
Passing Angel, perplexed: “Who?”
Ayn, triumphantly: “Nothing is of any importance except that I must find him!”
Passing Angel, doubtfully: “John?”
Ayn: “John Galt!”
Passing Angel, doubtfully: “Who is John Galt?”
Ayn decides to get up, starts walking.
Transition to Eddie Willers’ apartment…