بخش 39

کتاب: پدرخوانده / فصل 39

بخش 39

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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It was then that Don Corleone gave the speech that would be long remembered, and that reaffirmed his position as the most far-seeing statesman among them, so full of common sense, so direct from the heart; and to the heart of the matter. In it he coined a phrase that was to become as famous in its way as Churchill’s Iron Curtain, though not public knowledge until more than ten years later.

For the first time he stood up to address the council. He was short and a little thin from his “illness,” perhaps his sixty years showed a bit more but there was no question that he had regained all his former strength, and had all his wits.

“What manner of men are we then, if we do not have our reason,” he said. “We are all no better than beasts in a jungle if that were the case. But we have reason, we can reason with each other and we can reason with ourselves. To what purpose would I start all these troubles again, the violence and the turmoil? My son is dead and that is a misfortune and I must bear it, not make the innocent world around me suffer with me. And so I say, I give my honor, that I will never seek vengeance, I will never seek knowledge of the deeds that have been done in the past. I will leave here with a pure heart.

“Let me say that we must always look to our interests. We are all men who have refused to be fools, who have refused to be puppets dancing on a string pulled by the men on high. We have been fortunate here in this country. Already most of our children have found a better life. Some of you have sons who are professors, scientists, musicians, and you are fortunate. Perhaps your grandchildren will become the new pezzonovanti. None of us here want to see our children follow in our footsteps, it’s too hard a life. They can be as others, their position and security won by our courage. I have grandchildren now and I hope their children may someday, who knows, be a governor, a President, nothing’s impossible here in America. But we have to progress with the times. The time is past for guns and killings and massacres. We have to be cunning like the business people, there’s more money in it and it’s better for our children and our grandchildren.

“As for our own deeds, we are not responsible to the .90 calibers the pezzonovantis who take it upon themselves to decide what we shall do with our lives, who declare wars they wish us to fight in to protect what they own. Who is to say we should obey the laws they make for their own interest and to our hurt? And who are they then to meddle when we look after our own interests? Sonna cosa nostra, “ Don Corleone said, “these are our own affairs. We will manage our world for ourselves because it is our world, cosa nostra. And so we have to stick together to guard against outside meddlers. Otherwise they will put the ring in our nose as they have put the ring in the nose of all the millions of Neapolitans and other Italians in this country.

“For this reason I forgo my vengeance for my dead son, for the common good. I swear now that as long as I am responsible for the actions of my Family there will not be one finger lifted against any man here without just cause and utmost provocation. I am willing to sacrifice my commercial interests for the common good. This is my word, this is my honor, there are those of you here who know I have never betrayed either.

“But I have a selfish interest. My youngest son had to flee, accused of Sollozzo’s murder and that of a police captain. I must now make arrangements so that he can come home with safety, cleared of all those false charges. That is my affair and I will make those arrangements. I must find the real culprits perhaps, or perhaps I must convince the authorities of his innocence, perhaps the witnesses and informants will recant their lies. But again I say that this is my affair and I believe I will be able to bring my son home.

“But let me say this. I am a superstitious man, a ridiculous failing but I must confess it here. And so if some unlucky accident should befall my youngest son, if some police officer should accidentally shoot him, if he should hang himself in his cell, if new witnesses appear to testify to his guilt, my superstition will make me feel that it was the result of the ill will still borne me by some people here. Let me go further. If my son is struck by a bolt of lightning I will blame some of the people here. If his plane should fall into the sea or his ship sink beneath the waves of the ocean, if he should catch a mortal fever, if his automobile should be struck by a train, such is my superstition that I would blame the ill will felt by people here. Gentlemen, that ill will, that bad luck, I could never forgive. But aside from that let me swear by the souls of my grandchildren that I will never break the peace we have made. After all, are we or are we not better men than those pezzonovanti who have killed countless millions of men in our lifetimes?” With this Don Corleone stepped from his place and went down the table to where Don Phillip Tattaglia was sitting. Tattaglia rose to greet him and the two men embraced, kissing each other’s cheeks. The other Dons in the room applauded and rose to shake hands with everybody in sight and to congratulate Don Corleone and Don Tattaglia on their new friendship. It was not perhaps the warmest friendship in the world, they would not send each other Christmas gift greetings, but they would not murder each other. That was friendship enough in this world, all that was needed.

Since his son Freddie was under the protection of the Molinari Family in the West, Don Corleone lingered with the San Francisco Don after the meeting to thank him. Molinari said enough for Don Corleone to gather that Freddie had found his niche out there, was happy and had become something of a ladies’ man. He had a genius for running a hotel, it seemed. Don Corleone shook his head in wonder, as many fathers do when told of undreamed-of talents in their children. Wasn’t it true that sometimes the greatest misfortunes brought unforeseen rewards? They both agreed that this was so. Meanwhile Corleone made it clear to the San Francisco Don that he was in his debt for the great service done in protecting Freddie. He let it be known that his influence would be exerted so that the important racing wires would always be available to his people no matter what changes occurred in the power structure in the years to come, an important guarantee since the struggle over this facility was a constant open wound complicated by the fact that the Chicago people had their heavy hand in it. But Don Corleone was not without influence even in that land of barbarians and so his promise was a gift of gold.

It was evening before Don Corleone, Tom Hagen and the bodyguard-chauffeur, who happened to be Rocco Lampone, arrived at the mall in Long Beach. When they went into the house the Don said to Hagen, “Our driver, that man Lampone, keep an eye on him. He’s a fellow worth something better I think.” Hagen wondered at this remark. Lampone had not said a word all day, had not even glanced at the two men in the back seat. He had opened the door for the Don, the car had been in front of the bank when they emerged, he had done everything correctly but no more than any well-trained chauffeur might do. Evidently the Don’s eye had seen something he had not seen.

The Don dismissed Hagen and told him to come back to the house after supper. But to take his time and rest a little since they would put in a long night of discussion. He also told Hagen to have Clemenza and Tessio present. They should come at ten P.M., not before. Hagen was to brief Clemenza and Tessio on what had happened at the meeting that afternoon.

At ten the Don was waiting for the three men in his office, the corner room of the house with its law library and special phone. There was a tray with whiskey bottles, ice and soda water. The Don gave his instructions.

“We made the peace this afternoon,” he said. “I gave my word and my honor and that should be enough for all of you. But our friends are not so trustworthy so let’s all be on our guard still. We don’t want any more nasty little surprises.” Then Don turned to Hagen. “You’ve let the Bocchicchio hostages go?”

Hagen nodded. “I called Clemenza as soon as I got home.”

Corleone turned to the massive Clemenza. The caporegime nodded. “I released them. Tell me, Godfather, is it possible for a Sicilian to be as dumb as the Bocchicchios pretend to be?”

Don Corleone smiled a little. “They are clever enough to make a good living. Why is it so necessary to be more clever than that? It’s not the Bocchicchios who cause the troubles of this world. But it’s true, they haven’t got the Sicilian head.”

They were all in a relaxed mood, now that the war was over. Don Corleone himself mixed drinks and brought one to each man. The Don sipped his carefully and lit up a cigar.

“I want nothing set forth to discover what happened to Sonny, that’s done with and to be forgotten. I want all cooperation with the other Families even if they become a little greedy and we don’t get our proper share in things. I want nothing to break this peace no matter what the provocation until we’ve found a way to bring Michael home. And I want that to be first thing on your minds. Remember this, when he comes back he must come back in absolute safety. I don’t mean from the Tattaglias or the Barzinis. What I’m concerned about are the police. Sure, we can get rid of the real evidence against him; that waiter won’t testify, nor that spectator or gunman or whatever he was. The real evidence is the least of our worries since we know about it. What we have to worry about is the police framing false evidence because their informers have assured them that Michael Corleone is the man who killed their captain. Very well. We have to demand that the Five Families do everything in their power to correct this belief of the police. All their informers who work with the police must come up with new stories. I think after my speech this afternoon they will understand it is to their interest to do so. But that’s not enough. We have to come up with something special so Michael won’t ever have to worry about that again. Otherwise there’s no point in him coming back to this country. So let’s all think about that. That’s the most important matter.

“Now, any man should be allowed one foolishness in his life. I have had mine. I want all the land around the mall bought, the houses bought. I don’t want any man able to look out his window into my garden even if it’s a mile away. I want a fence around the mall and I want the mall to be on full protection all the time. I want a gate in that fence. In short, I wish now to live in a fortress. Let me say to you now that I will never go into the city to work again. I will be semiretired. I feel an urge to work in the garden, to make a little wine when the grapes are in season. I want to live in my house. The only time I’ll leave is to go on a little vacation or to see someone on important business and then I want all precautions taken. Now don’t take this amiss. I’m not preparing anything. I’m being prudent, I’ve always been a prudent man, there is nothing I find so little to my taste as carelessness in life. Women and children can afford to be careless, men cannot. Be leisurely in all these things, no frantic preparations to alarm our friends. It can be done in such a way as to seem natural.

“Now I’m going to leave things more and more up to each of you three. I want the Santino regime disbanded and the men placed in your regimes. That should reassure our friends and show that I mean peace. Tom, I want you to put together a group of men who will go to Las Vegas and give me a full report on what is going on out there. Tell me about Fredo, what is really happening out there, I hear I wouldn’t recognize my own son. It seems he’s a cook now, that he amuses himself with young girls more than a grown man should. Well, he was always too serious when he was young and he was never the man for Family business. But let’s find out what really can be done out there.” Hagen said quietly, “Should we send your son-in-law? After all, Carlo is a native of Nevada, he knows his way around.”

Don Corleone shook his head. “No, my wife is lonely here without any of her children. I want Constanzia and her husband moved into one of the houses on the mall. I want Carlo given a responsible job, maybe I’ve been too harsh on him, and”–Don Corleone made a grimace–”I’m short of sons. Take him out of the gambling and put him in with the unions where he can do some paper work and a lot of talking. He’s a good talker.” There was the tiniest note of contempt in the Don’s voice.

Hagen nodded. “OK, Clemenza and I will go over all the people and put together a group to do the Vegas job. Do you want me to call Freddie home for a few days?”

The Don shook his head. He said cruelly, “What for? My wife can still cook our meals. Let him stay out there.” The three men shifted uneasily in their seats. They had not realized Freddie was in such severe disfavor with his father and they suspected it must be because of something they did not know.

Don Corleone sighed. “I hope to grow some good green peppers and tomatoes in the garden this year, more than we can eat. I’ll make you presents of them. I want a little peace, a little quiet and tranquility for my old age. Well, that’s all. Have another drink if you like.”

It was a dismissal. The men rose. Hagen accompanied Clemenza and Tessio to their cars and arranged meetings with them to thrash out the operational details that would accomplish the stated desires of their Don. Then he went back into the house where he knew Don Corleone would be waiting for him.

The Don had taken off his jacket and tie and was lying down on the couch. His stern face was relaxed into lines of fatigue. He waved Hagen into a chair and said, “Well, Consigliere, do you disapprove of any of my deeds today?”

Hagen took his time answering. “No,” he said. “But I don’t find it consistent, nor true to your nature. You say you don’t want to find out how Santino was killed or want vengeance for it. I don’t believe that. You gave your word for peace and so you’ll keep the peace but I can’t believe you will give your enemies the victory they seem to have won today. You’ve constructed a magnificent riddle that I can’t solve, so how can I approve or disapprove?” A look of content came over the Don’s face. “Well, you know me better than anyone else. Even though you’re not a Sicilian, I made you one. Everything you say is true, but there’s a solution and you’ll comprehend it before it spins out to the end. You agree everyone has to take my word and I’ll keep my word. And I want my orders obeyed exactly. But, Tom, the most important thing is we have to get Michael home as soon as possible. Make that first in your mind and in your work. Explore all the legal alleys, I don’t care how much money you have to spend. It has to be foolproof when he comes home. Consult the best lawyers on criminal law. I’ll give you the names of some judges who will give you a private audience. Until that time we have to guard against all treacheries.” Hagen said, “Like you, I’m not worried so much about the real evidence as the evidence they will manufacture. Also some police friend may kill Michael after he’s arrested. They may kill him in his cell or have one of the prisoners do it. As I see it, we can’t even afford to have him arrested or accused.”

Don Corleone sighed. “I know, I know. That’s the difficulty. But we can’t take too long. There are troubles in Sicily. The young fellows over there don’t listen to their elders anymore and a lot of the men deported from America are just too much for the old-fashioned Dons to handle. Michael could get caught in between. I’ve taken some precautions against that and he’s still got a good cover but that cover won’t last forever. That’s one of the reasons I had to make the peace. Barzini has friends in Sicily and they were beginning to sniff Michael’s trail. That gives you one of the answers to your riddle. I had to make the peace to insure my son’s safety. There was nothing else to do.” Hagen didn’t bother asking the Don how he had gotten this information. He was not even surprised, and it was true that this solved part of the riddle. “When I meet with Tattaglia’s people to firm up the details, should I insist that all his drug middlemen be clean? The judges will be a little skittish about giving light sentences to a man with a record.”

Don Corleone shrugged. “They should be smart enough to figure that out themselves. Mention it, don’t insist. We’ll do our best but if they use a real snowbird and he gets caught, we won’t lift a finger. We’ll just tell them nothing can be done. But Barzini is a man who will know that without being told. You notice how he never committed himself in this affair. One might never have known he was in any way concerned. That is a man who doesn’t get caught on the losing side.” Hagen was startled. “You mean he was behind Sollozzo and Tattaglia all the time?”

Don Corleone sighed. “Tattaglia is a pimp. He could never have outfought Santino. That’s why I don’t have to know about what happened. It’s enough to know that Barzini had a hand in it.”

Hagen let this sink in. The Don was giving him clues but there was something very important left out. Hagen knew what it was but he knew it was not his place to ask. He said good night and turned to go. The Don had a last word for him.

“Remember, use all your wits for a plan to bring Michael home.” the Don said. “And one other thing. Arrange with the telephone man so that every month I get a list of all the telephone calls, made and received, by Clemenza and Tessio. I suspect them of nothing. I would swear they would never betray me. But there’s no harm in knowing any little thing that may help us before the event.”

Hagen nodded and went out. He wondered if the Don was keeping a check on him also in some way and then was ashamed of his suspicion. But now he was sure that in the subtle and complex mind of the Godfather a far-ranging plan of action was being initiated that made the day’s happenings no more than a tactical retreat. And there was that one dark fact that no one mentioned, that he himself had not dared to ask, that Don Corleone ignored. All pointed to a day of reckoning in the future.

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