بخش 06

کتاب: پدرخوانده / فصل 6

بخش 06

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متن انگلیسی فصل

Tom Hagen was thirty-five years old, a tall crew-cut man, very slender, very ordinary-looking. He was a lawyer but did not do the actual detailed legal work for the Corleone family business though he had practiced law for three years after passing the bar exam.

At the age of eleven he had been a playmate of eleven-year-old Sonny Corleone. Hagen’s mother had gone blind and then died during his eleventh year. Hagen’s father, a heavy drinker, had become a hopeless drunkard. A hardworking carpenter, he had never done a dishonest thing in his life. But his drinking destroyed his family and finally killed him. Tom Hagen was left an orphan who wandered the streets and slept in hallways. His younger sister had been put in a foster home, but in the 1920’s the social agencies did not follow up cases of eleven-year-old boys who were so ungrateful as to run from their charity. Hagen, too, had an eye infection. Neighbors whispered that he had caught or inherited it from his mother and so therefore it could be caught from him. He was shunned. Sonny Corleone, a warmhearted and imperious eleven-year-old, had brought his friend home and demanded that he be taken in. Tom Hagen was given a hot dish of spaghetti with oily rich tomato sauce, the taste of which he had never forgotten, and then given a metal folding bed to sleep on.

In the most natural way, without a word being spoken or the matter discussed in any fashion, Don Corleone had permitted the boy to stay in his household. Don Corleone himself took the boy to a special doctor and had his eye infection cured. He sent him to college and law school. In all this the Don acted not as a father but rather as a guardian. There was no show of affection but oddly enough the Don treated Hagen more courteously than his own sons, did not impose a parental will upon him. It was the boy’s decision to go to law school after college. He had heard/Don Corleone say once, “ A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.” Meanwhile, much to the annoyance of their father, Sonny and Freddie insisted on going into the family business after graduation from high school. Only Michael had gone on to college, and he had enlisted in the Marines the day after Pearl Harbor.

After he passed the bar exam, Hagen married to start his own family. The bride was a young Italian girl from New Jersey, rare at that time for being a college graduate. After the wedding, which was of course held in the home of Don Corleone, the Don offered to support Hagen in any undertaking he desired, to send him law clients; furnish his office, start him in real estate..

Tom Hagen had bowed his head and said to the Don, “I would like to work for you.”

The Don was surprised, yet pleased. “You know who I am?” he asked.

Hagen nodded. He hadn’t really known the extent of the Don’s power, not then. He did not really know in the ten years that followed until he was made the acting Consigliere after Genco Abbandando became ill. But he nodded and met the Don’s eyes with his own. “I would work for you like your sons,” Hagen said, meaning with complete loyalty, with complete acceptance of the Don’s parental divinity. The Don, with that understanding which was even then building the legend of his greatness, showed the young man the first mark of fatherly affection since he had come into his household. He took Hagen into his arms for a quick embrace and afterward treated him more like a true son, though he would sometimes say, “Tom, never forget your parents,” as if he were reminding himself as well as Hagen.

There was no chance that Hagen would forget. His mother had been near moronic and slovenly, so ridden by anemia she could not feel affection for her children or make a pretense of it. His father Hagen had hated. His mother’s blindness before she died had terrified him and his own eye infection had been a stroke of doom. He had been sure he would go blind. When his father died, Tom Hagen’s eleven-year-old mind had snapped in a curious way. He had roamed the streets like an animal waiting for death until the fateful day Sonny found him sleeping in the back of a hallway and brought him to his home. What had happened afterward was a miracle. But for years Hagen had had nightmares, dreaming he had grown to manhood blind, tapping a white cane, his blind children behind him tap-tapping with their little white canes as they begged in the streets. Some mornings when he woke the face of Don Corleone was imprinted on his brain in that first conscious moment and he would feel safe.

But the Don had insisted that he put in three years of general law practice in addition to his duties for the family business. This experience had proved invaluable later on, and also removed any doubts in Hagen’s mind about working for Don Corleone. He had then spent two years of training in the offices of a top firm of criminal lawyers in which the Don had some influence. It was apparent to everyone that he had a flair for this branch of the law. He did well and when he went into the full-time service of the family business, Don Corleone had not been able to reproach him once in the six years that followed.

When he had been made the acting Consigliere, the other powerful Sicilian families referred contemptuously to the Corleone family as the “Irish gang.” This had amused Hagen. It had also taught him that he could never hope to succeed the Don as the head of the family business. But he was content. That had never been his goal, such an ambition would have been a “disrespect” to his benefactor and his benefactor’s blood family.

It was still dark when the plane landed in Los Angeles. Hagen checked into his hotel, showered and shaved, and watched dawn come over the city. He ordered breakfast and newspapers to be sent up to his room and relaxed until it was time for his ten A.M. appointment with Jack Woltz. The appointment had been surprisingly easy to make.

The day before, Hagen had called the most powerful man in the movie labor unions, a man named Billy Goff. Acting on instructions from Don Corleone, Hagen had told Goff to arrange an appointment on the next day for Hagen to call on d ex Woltz, that he should hint to Woltz that if Hagen was not made happy by the results of the interview, there could be a labor strike at the movie studio. An hour later Hagen received a call from Goff. The appointment would be at ten A.M. Woltz had gotten the message about the possible labor strike but hadn’t seemed too impressed, Goff said. He added, “If it really comes down to that, I gotta talk to the Don myself.” “If it comes to that he’ll talk to you,” Hagen said. By saying this he avoided making any promises. He was not surprised that Goff was so agreeable to the Don’s wishes. The family empire, technically, did not extend beyond the New York area but Don Corleone had first become strong by helping labor leaders. Many of them still owed him debts of friendship.

But the ten A.M. appointment was a bad sign. It meant that he would be first on the appointment list, that he would not be invited to lunch. It meant that Woltz held him in small worth. Goff had not been threatening enough, probably because Woltz had him on his graft payroll. And sometimes the Don’s success in keeping himself out of the limelight worked to the disadvantage of the family business, in that his name did not mean anything to outside circles.

His analysis proved correct. Woltz kept him waiting for a half hour past the appointed time. Hagen didn’t mind. The reception room was very plush, very comfortable, and on a plum-colored couch opposite him sat the most beautiful child Hagen had ever seen. She was no more than eleven or twelve, dressed in a very expensive but simple way as a grown woman. She bad incredibly golden hair, huge deep sea-blue eyes and a fresh raspberry-red mouth. She was guarded by a woman obviously her mother, who tried to stare Hagen down with a cold arrogance that made him want to punch her in the face. The angel child and the dragon mother, Hagen thought, returning the mother’s cold stare.

Finas q an exquisitely dressed but stout middle-aged woman came to lead him through a string of offices to the office-apartment of the movie producer. Hagen was impressed by the beauty of the offices and the people working in them. He smiled. They were all shrewdies, trying to get their foot in the movie door by taking office jobs, and most of them would work in these offices for the rest of their lives or until they accepted defeat and returned to their home towns.

Jack Woltz was a tall, powerfully built man with a heavy paunch almost concealed by his perfectly tailored suit. Hagen knew his history. At ten years of age Woltz had hustled empty beer kegs and pushcarts on the East Side. At twenty he helped his father sweat garment workers. At thirty he had left New York and moved West, invested in the nickelodeon and pioneered motion pictures. At forty-eight he had been the most powerful movie magnate in Hollywood, still rough-spoken, rapaciously amorous, a raging wolf ravaging helpless flocks of young starlets. At fifty he transformed himself. He took speech lessons, learned how to dress from an English valet and how to behave socially from an English butler. When his first wife died he married a world-famous and beautiful actress who didn’t like acting. Now at the age of sixty he collected old master paintings, was a member of the President’s Advisory Committee, and had set up a multimillion-dollar foundation in his name to promote art in motion pictures. His daughter had married an English lord, his son an Italian princess.

His latest passion, as reported dutifully by every movie columnist in America, was his own racing stables on which he had spent ten million dollars in the past year. He had made headlines by purchasing the famed English racing horse Khartoum for the incredible price of six hundred thousand dollars and then announcing that the undefeated racer would be retired and put to stud exclusively for the Woltz stables.

He received Hagen courteously, his beautifully, evenly tanned, meticulously barbered face contorted with a grimace meant to be a smile. Despite all the money spent, despite the ministrations of the most knowledgeable technicians, his age showed; the flesh of his face looked as if it had been seamed together. But there was an enormous vitality in his movements and he had what Don Corleone had, the air of a man who commanded absolutely the world in which he lived.

Hagen came directly to the point. That he was an emissary from a friend of Johnny Fontane. That this friend was a very powerful man who would pledge his gratitude and undying friendship to Mr. Woltz if Mr. Woltz would grant a small favor. The small favor would be the casting of Johnny Fontane in the new war movie the studio planned to start next week.

The seamed face was impassive, polite. “What favors can your friend do me?” Woltz asked. There was just a trace of condescension in his voice.

Hagen ignored the condescension. He explained. “You’ve got some labor trouble coming up. My friend can absolutely guarantee to make that trouble disappear. You have a top male star who makes a lot of money for your studio but he just graduated from marijuana to heroin. My friend will guarantee that your male star won’t be able to get any more heroin. And if some other little things come up over the years a phone call to me can solve your problems.”

Jack Woltz listened to this as if he were hearing the boasting of a child. Then he said harshly, his voice deliberately all East Side, “You trying to put muscle on me?”

Hagen said coolly, “ Absolutely not. I’ve come to ask a service for a friend. I’ve tried to explain that you won’t lose anything by it.”

Almost as if he willed it, Woltz made his face a mask of anger. The mouth curled, his heavy brows, dyed black, contracted to form a thick line over his glinting eyes. He leaned over the desk toward Hagen.” All right, you smooth son of a bit@h, let me lay it on the line for you and your boss, whoever he is. Johnny Fontane never gets that movie. I don’t care how many guinea Mafia goombahs come out of the woodwork.” He leaned back. “A word of advice to you, my friend. J. Edgar Hoover, I assume you’ve heard of him”–Woltz smiled sardonically–”is a personal friend of mine. If I let him know I’m being pressured, you guys will never know what hit you.” Hagen listened patiently. He had expected better from a man of Woltz’s stature. Was it possible that a man who acted this stupidly could rise to the head of a company worth hundreds of millions? That was something to think about since the Don was looking for new things to put money into, and if the top brains of this industry were so dumb, movies might be the thing. The abuse itself bothered him not at all. Hagen had learned the art of negotiation from the Don himself. “Never get angry,” the Don had instructed. “Never make a threat. Reason with people.” The word “reason” sounded so much better in Italian, ragione, to rejoin. The art of this was to ignore all insults, all threats; to turn the other cheek. Hagen had seen the Don sit at a negotiating table for eight hours, swallowing insults, trying to persuade a notorious and megalomaniac strong-arm man to mend his ways. At the end of the eight hours Don Corleone had thrown up his hands in a helpless gesture and said to the other men at the table, “But no one can reason with this fellow,” and had stalked out of the meeting room. The strong-arm man had turned white with fear. Emissaries were sent to bring the Don back into the room. An agreement was reached but two months later the strong-arm was shot to death in his favorite barbershop.

So Hagen started again, speaking in the most ordinary voice. “Look at my card,” he said. “I’m a lawyer. Would I stick my neck out? Have I uttered one threatening word? Let me just say that I am prepared to meet any condition you name to get Johnny Fontane that movie. I think I’ve already offered a great deal for such a small favor. A favor that I understand it would be in your interest to grant. Johnny tells me that you admit he would be perfect for that part. And let me say that this favor would never be asked if that were not so. In fact, if you’re worried about your investment, my client would finance the picture. But please let me make myself absolutely clear. We understand your no is no. Nobody can force you or is trying to. We know about your friendship with Mr. Hoover, I may add, and my boss respects you for it. He respects that relationship very much.” Woltz had been doodling with a huge, red-feathered pen. At the mention of money his interest was aroused and he stopped doodling. He said patronizingly, “This picture is budgeted at five million.”

Hagen whistled softly to show that he was impressed. Then he said very casually, “My boss has a lot of friends who back his judgment.”

For the first time Woltz seemed to take the whole thing seriously. He studied Hagen’s card. “I never heard of you,” he said. “I know most of the big lawyers in New York, but just who the hell are you?”

“I have one of those dignified corporate practices,” Hagen said dryly. “I just handle this one account.” He rose. “I won’t take up any more of your time.” He held out his hand, Woltz shook it. Hagen took a few steps toward the door and turned to face Woltz again. “I understand you have to deal with a lot of people who try to seem more important than they are. In my case the reverse is true. Why don’t you check me out with our mutual friend? If you reconsider, call me at my hotel.” He paused. “This may be sacrilege to you, but my client can do things for you that even Mr. Hoover might find out of his range.” He saw the movie producer’s eyes narrowing. Woltz was finally getting the message. “By the way, I admire your pictures very much,” Hagen said in the most fawning voice he could manage. “I hope you can keep up the good work. Our country needs it; “ Late that afternoon Hagen received a call from the producer’s secretary that a car would pick him up within the hour to take him out to Mr. Woltz’s country home for dinner. She told him it would be about a three-hour drive but that the car was equipped with a bar and some hors d’oeuvres. Hagen knew that Woltz made the trip in his private plane and wondered why he hadn’t been invited to make the trip by air. The secretary’s voice was adding politely, “Mr. Woltz suggested you bring an overnight bag and he’ll get you to the airport in the morning.” “I’ll do that,” Hagen said. That was another thing to wonder about. How did Woltz know he was taking the morning plane back to New York? He thought about it for a moment. The most likely explanation was that Woltz had set private detectives on his trail to get all possible information. Then Woltz certainly knew he represented the Don, which meant that he knew something about the Don, which in turn meant that he was now ready to take the whole matter seriously. Something might be done after all, Hagen thought. And maybe Woltz was smarter than he had appeared this morning.

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