In the eighteen months that followed, Roark had no time to wonder about Mr. Bradley. Roark was building his greatest assignment.
For the last year he lived at the construction site, in a shanty hastily thrown together on a bare hillside, a wooden enclosure with a bed, a stove and a large table. His old draftsmen came to work for him again, and some abandoning better jobs in the city, to live in shacks and tents, to work in naked plank barracks that served as architect’s office. There was so much to build that none of them thought of wasting structural effort on their own shelters. They did not realize, until much later, that they had lacked comforts; and then they did not believe it – because the year at Monadnock Valley remained in the minds as the same time where the earth stopped turning and they lived through twelve months of spring. They did not think of the snow, the frozen clots of earth, wind whistling through the cracks of planking, thin blankets over army cots, stiff fingers stretched over coal stoves in the morning, before a pencil could be held steadily. They remembered on the feeling which if the meaning of strong – one’s answer to the first blades of grass, the first buds on tree branches, and the first blue of the sky, but to the great send of beginning, of triumphant progression, of certainty in an achievement that nothing will stop. Not from leaves and flowers, but from wooden scaffoldings, from steam shovels, from blocks of stone and sheets of glass rising out of the earth they revive the sense of youth, motion, purpose, fulfillment.
They were an army and it was a crusade. But none of them thought it in these words, except Steven Mallory. Steven Malory did the fountains and all the sculpture work of Monadnock Valley. But he came to live at the site long before he was needed. Battle, thought Steven Mallory is a vicious concept. There is no glory in war, and no beauty in crusades of men. But this was a battle, this was an army and a war – and the highest experience in the life of every man who took part in it. Why? Where was the root of the difference and the law to explain it?
He did not speak of it to anyone. But he saw the same feeling in Mike’s face, when Mike arrived with the gang of of electricians. Mike said nothing, but he winked at Mallory in cheerful understanding. “I told you not to worry,” Mike said to him once, without preamble, “at the trial that was. He can’t lose, quarries or no quarries, trials or no trials. They can’t beat him, Steve, they just can’t, not the whole goddamn world.”
But they had already forgotten the world, thought Mallory. This was a near earth, their own. The hills rose to the sky around them, as a wall of protection. And they had another protection- the architect who waiting among them, down the snow or the grass of the hillsides, over the boilers and the piled planks, to the drafting tables, to the derricks, to the tops of rising walls – the man who made this possible – the thought in the m ind of that man – and not the content of that thought, nor the result, not the vision that had created Monadnock Valley, not the will that made it real – but the method of his thought, the rule of its function – the method and rule which were not like those of the world beyond the hills. That stood on guard over the valley and over the crusaders with it.