That winter, she stripped her life down to the bright simplicity of a geometrical drawing: a few straight lines - to and from the engineering college in the city each day, to and from her job at Rockdale Station each night - and the closed circle of her room, a room littered with diagrams of motors, blueprints of steel structures, and railroad timetables.
Mrs. Taggart watched her daughter in unhappy bewilderment. She could have forgiven all the omissions, but one: Dagny showed no sign of interest in men, no romantic inclination whatever. Mrs. Taggart did not approve of extremes; she had been prepared to contend with an extreme of the opposite kind, if necessary; she found herself thinking that this was worse. She felt embarrassed when she had to admit that her daughter, at seventeen, did not have a single admirer.
"Dagny and Francisco D'Anconia?" she said, smiling ruefully, in answer to the curiosity of her friends. "Oh no, it's not a romance. It's an international industrial cartel of some kind. That's all they seem to care about."
Mrs. Taggart heard James say one evening, in the presence of guests, a peculiar tone of satisfaction in his voice, "Dagny, even though you were named after her, you really look more like Nat Taggart than like that first Dagny Taggart, the famous beauty who was his wife." Mrs. Taggart did not know which offended her most: that James said it or that Dagny accepted it happily as a compliment.
She would never have a chance, thought Mrs. Taggart, to form some conception of her own daughter. Dagny was only a figure hurrying in and out of the apartment, a slim figure in a leather jacket, with a raised collar, a short skirt and long show-girl legs. She walked, cutting across a room, with a masculine, straight-line abruptness, but she had a peculiar grace of motion that was swift, tense, and oddly, challengingly feminine.
At times, catching a glimpse of Dagny's face, Mrs. Taggart caught an expression which she could not quite define: it was much more than gaiety, it was the look of such an untouched purity of enjoyment that she found it abnormal, too: no young girl could be so insensitive as to have discovered no sadness in life. Her daughter, she concluded, was incapable of emotion.
"Dagny," she asked once, "don't you ever want to have a good time?" Dagny looked at her incredulously and answered, "What do you think I'm having?"